Given time in the fourth quarter, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers found the weakness in the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.
Middle of the field. No Kam Chancellor at safety. Short passes turned into big gains.
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No second half collapse against Seattle on Sunday night Lambeau Field.
Rodgers and the defense came up big in the fourth quarter of a 27-17 win in a bruising, physical rematch of last season’s NFC title game.
"We’re 2-0. It was a great night here at Lambeau Field," coach Mike McCarthy said. "You sleep better when you win."
The crowd erupted at the end, releasing nine months’ worth of frustration.
The Packers blew a 16-0 lead against the Seahawks in the NFC title game last year. They held on after giving up 13-3 lead at halftime on Sunday.
The Seahawks, who fell to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last year, dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2011.
"But you have to move forward and realize there’s a lot of season left," said quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw an interception in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers stayed characteristically calm under pressure.
He was a master at moving around to buy time. He took advantage of Seattle penalties with long throws for big gains.
And in the fourth quarter, with the Packers down 17-16, he orchestrated a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a 5-yard scoring pass to Richard Rodgers. A 2-point conversion pass, also to Richard Rodgers, made it 24-17 with 9:28 left.
Working without a huddle, Rodgers set up the score with short passes to Randall Cobb for gains of 18 and 19 yards, respectively. Ty Montgomery turned another short pass into a 17-yard gain.
Rodgers and the coaching staff looked at film of Seattle’s defense before the drive and found a hole.
"In the middle of their defense is where you can find some soft spots, that’s kind of what we targeted there," the quarterback said.
On Seattle’s next drive, Jayrone Elliott made a lunging, one-handed interception of a short pass from Wilson with 6:50 left, one of the rare mistakes in the second half for Seattle’s dual-threat quarterback. The Packers (2-0) cashed in with one of Mason Crosby’s four field goals on the night for a 10-point lead with 2 minutes remaining.
"I’ve got a bum finger, so I had to catch it with one hand," Elliott said.
The defense held on when it mattered in the fourth quarter after giving up chunks of yardage earlier in the second half to dual-threat quarterback Wilson.
The Seahawks’ last two series ended in turnovers. Besides Elliott’s pick, Micah Hyde recovered a fumble by Fred Jackson with 22 seconds left.
Wilson was 19 of 30 for 206 yards, while running for 78 yards on 10 carries.
But he lamented the disappointing fourth quarter.
"Yeah, it was a heartbreaker," Wilson said. "Disappointing game because we felt like we were going to have a chance to go down the field and win there."
Rodgers seized his opportunity. He finished 25 of 33 for 249 yards and connected with favorite target James Jones for a 29-yard touchdown pass on the game’s opening series.
But the offense got bogged down or had to settle for field goals until the fourth quarter. Rodgers was clutch against a defense missing Chancellor, who is holding out for a new contract.
Notes:The Packers held Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on 15 carries. … Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy left the game in the first quarter with a right ankle injury. Backup James Starks kept Packers running game going with 95 yards on 20 carries. With four field goals and an extra point, Crosby set the franchise record with 1,057 career points.