Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers built up a lead and fended off a second-half comeback attempt from Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Rodgers chemistry with Devante Adams was deadly, as Seattle’s defense couldn’t come up with an answer for defending the receiver.
The Packers advance to the NFC Championship, where they will play visitor to the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers earned the top seed in the NFC by virtue of a head-to-head win over the Packers, and are coming off a dominant victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Setting the Stage
Background, How the Teams Got Here, The Stakes at Hand – Feel Free to Skip Ahead to Game Recap
Heading into Sunday Night Football during Week 17, the Seattle Seahawks had a shot at the NFC West if they could defeat the San Francisco 49ers. They kept the game close until the very end, falling just inches short in the game’s final second.
This forced Seattle to play on the road in Wildcard Weekend, despite holding a better record than the NFC East-winning Philadelphia Eagles. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks grinded out a 17-9 win in Philadelphia to set up a date with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The Green Bay Packers spent the offseason hiring a new coach and tweaking their defense. The revamped Packers squad, coached by Matt Lafleur and led on offense by Rodgers, went 13-3 and earned a first round bye after missing the playoffs last season.
The Packers were competitive in almost all 16 games: save for a 37-8 embarrassment at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. Should the Packers win this game, they would set up a rematch in the same venue, Levi’s Stadium, this time with a Super Bowl trip on the line.
Rodgers and Wilson have met seven times in the regular and post-season, with Wilson holding a 4-3 edge but the home team winning each and every matchup. Most notably, Wilson bounced back from an abysmal first half in January 2014 to come back and defeat the Packers, reaching the Super Bowl.
The 6:40 PM ET / 5:40 PM local time kickoff was a cold one, with a temperature of 21 degrees and a wind chill of 16 degrees. Seattle won the coin toss but deferred possession the the second half.
Aaron Rodgers and company would get the ball to start the game, but it was the company making the early impact. Running back Aaron Jones opened the game with a 23-yard rush, and Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for a 14-yard gain and back-to-back first downs.
Rodgers extended the drive first on a 3rd-and-8 catch by tight end Jimmy Graham, who once played for Seattle.
The Seahawks would force a tougher third down situation after Jadeveon Clowney brought Rodgers down for 4-yard loss. But Rodgers went deep to the opposite side of the field, finding Adams for a 20-yard touchdown to open the game’s scoring.
The Seahawks first offensive play brought drama, as Wilson connected with tight end Jacob Hollister. Hollister appeared to fumble the ball, and he did. Green Bay challenged the play, and while the referees ruled a fumble did occur, there was no clear recovery by the Packers. Seattle would avoid a turnover on their first offensive play of the night.
Seattle wouldn’t capitalize on the good break though, as a stuffed Marshawn Lynch run, Wilson sack evasion attempt, and failed pass downfield to D.K. Metcalf ended the Seahawks drive after just one first down.
The teams would trade three and outs, as Rodgers went 0-2 passing on his drive, and Marshawn Lynch couldn’t pick up two yards on two carries for Seattle.
Green Bay’s next drive stalled just as quickly, with an offensive pass interference pushing the Packers back.
Wilson would find Lockett for 28 yards resulting in their longest offensive play of the quarter. Lynch would plow ahead four more yards before a Jason Myers field goal made the score 7-3.
The Packers would get the ball with a fresh 15:00 on the clock to start the second quarter. Rodgers quickly found Adams for both 18 and 15 yard gains on the first two plays of the drive. The drive was further extended by an 18-yard pass interference penalty against the Seahawks.
As Green Bay drew close to the endzone, the Seahawks were found offsides, another defensive penalty. It would set up a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, a pretty hard situation not to score in. Aaron Jones plowed into a tough Seattle defensive line for a 1-yard score, extending the Packers lead to 14-3.
Needing an answer, the Seahawks put together a drive sparked by another long catch from Lockett.
A Za’Darius Smith sack would help stall the drive for the Packers defense, as Wilson couldn’t connect on the ensuing 3rd-and-8 try. Myers attempted a 50-yard field goal for the Seahawks, but couldn’t hit it in the frigid conditions.
Rodgers and the Packers got right back to work with a shorter, 60-yard field to work with. They would swiftly punch the ball in with another rushing touchdown by Aaron Jones to extend their lead to 21-3 before halftime.
The Seahawks got the ball to Green Bay’s 43-yard line in the final seconds of the half, but were unable to convert the drive into any points before time expired. They would receive the ball again to start the second half.
Seattle took the second half kickoff desperate for a score to cut into the Packers three score lead. On the defensive side of the ball, they needed to contain the deadly combination between Rodgers and Adams.
On 3rd-and-6, Wilson extended the drive with a 22-yard scamper. On his next pass attempt, he hit Metcalf for a 24-yard gain.
The Seahawks eventually faced 4th-and-1 on the Packers 5-yard line, down 21-3. Feeling they needed a touchdown, Pete Carroll went for it, and Wilson found Lockett for a 4-yard connection. Lynch would pound in the touchdown on the next play to make it a two-score game. The Packers led 21-10 with 9:44 to play in the third quarter.
But for the third straight drive, the Packer would score a touchdown, needing only five plays to do so. A 27-yard connection between Rodgers and Graham preluded a 40-yard bomb from Rodgers to Adams.
For Adams, it was his 7th catch, 2nd touchdown reception, and his yardage total was up to 128. And there was still 7:09 to go in the third quarter. Green Bay’s lightning quick retaliation put them up 28-10.
The Seahawks next drive was single-handedly carried by Wilson, and specifically his ability to turn would-be sacks into positive gains.
He wasn’t bad with his arm either, going 5/6 after a miss to start the drive. From the Packers 7-yard line, he was able to find Lockett in the endzone for the Seahawks 2nd straight score.
Seattle’s defense finally got a stop on the the Packers next drive, forcing a three and out. The defense denied a Rodgers-Adams connection on 3rd down to end the Packers consecutive touchdown run.
Wilson kicked off the Seahawks next drive with a 19-yard pass to Lockett, and Packers cornerback Kevin King was shaken up on the play. Wilson would keep his hot hand, finding Metcalf, who turned an 8-yard-or-so gain into a 14-yard first down reception.
After a dangerous lateral to Luke Willson, Russell Wilson found tight end Jacob Hollister on a crossing route for 19 yards. The Seahawks offense was alive and churning. It’s flow was stopped again, however, by another injured Packer, defensive end Tyler Lancaster.
Wilson didn’t miss a beat, somehow finding a wide-open Travis Homer on the edge of the sideline, despite heavy pressure from the Packers pass rush. Yet another Packers defender halted the game, as linebacker Preston Smith was slow to get up.
Lynch muscled his way from a no-gainer to a 4-yard rush on 1st down, then on 2nd down, pounded it in for his 2nd touchdown of the game. It would be the Seahawks 3rd straight touchdown, matching the Packers earlier streak.
Wilson’s evasiveness finally ran out on a two-point conversion attempt, as Wilson was quickly sacked in the backfield. The Packers still led, but just by a single score. 28-23 with 9:33 left to play in the 4th quarter.
Green Bay would pick up a couple first downs, on an 11-yard pass to Allison and a 14-yard scramble by Rodgers. But this time, Seattle’s defense would hold strong, pressuring Rodgers on nearly every play. Rodgers was brought down by Shaquem Griffin for an 8-yard loss to end the drive.
Wilson would kickstart the Seahawks next drive with a 14-yard pass to Lockett, but a Preston Smith sack on third down halted the drive in its tracks. Seattle was forced to punt away with 2:41 remaining.
The Seahawks defense appeared to catch a big break when Jadeveon Clowney forced Rodgers to throw a pass, stopping the clock. But on third down, Rodgers did what he did best all day: find Adams, especially on third down.
On another 3rd down, 3rd-and-9, the Seahawks absolute last chance, Rodgers found Graham for exactly nine yards. On the live broadcast, it appeared Graham may have been just short of the projected yellow line. But upon further inspection, the yellow line was off a foot or two, and with the actual first-down marker, Graham had easily gained enough position.
Wilson and the red-hot Seahawks offense wouldn’t get another chance, as they needed to capitalize on their last drive. For the 8th time in as many meetings between the Seahawks and Packers, the home team took home the victory.
GB Aaron Rodgers: 16/27, 243 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT (113.7 Rating) (5 rushes, 14 yards)
SEA Russell Wilson: 21/31, 277 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT (106.5 Rating) (7 rushes, 64 yards)
GB Davante Adams: 8 catches, 160 yards, 2 TD
SEA Tyler Lockett: 9 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD
GB Jimmy Graham: 3 catches, 49 yards
SEA D.K. Metcalf: 4 catches, 59 yards
GB Aaron Jones: 21 rushes, 62 yards, 2 TD
SEA Marshawn Lynch: 12 rushes, 26 yards, 2 TD
- First Downs: GB 22, SEA 23
- Total Yards: GB 344, SEA 375
- Rushing Yards: GB 109, SEA 110
- Passing Yards: GB 235, SEA 265
- Turnovers: GB 0, SEA 0
- Time of Possession: GB 29:29, SEA 30:31
Player of the Game
In a losing effort, Wilson may have been the best player on the field, giving his team a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
But the Packers won this game because of the separation Davante Adams was able to create, torching Seattle’s defense for 8 catches, 160 yards, and 2 TD. A completion to Adams on the Packers final drive helped seal the game’s result, and obviously his two touchdowns didn’t hurt either.
Adams was by far Rodgers favorite target, as after Graham’s 3 catches, no other pass-catcher caught more than one pass.
The Seahawks are hardly a success-starved franchise, with a Super Bowl victory, 2 Super Bowl appearances, and 7 playoff appearances in 8 seasons.
But for their fourth consecutive postseason appearance, the Seahawks have failed to advance past the Divisional Round. It was a tough loss to the Packers, as the roster Seattle employed this season easily could have gotten them to the Super Bowl, or at least Conference Championship round.
Wilson and the Seahawks will have to be patient, not needing to make major changes, but just to wait and continue playing quality football next season.
This is Green Bay’s first postseason appearance since the 2016-17 season, where they fell to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship. This time, they’ll have to get through Jimmy Garropolo and the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers will look to avenge a 37-8 embarrassment that occurred the last time Green Bay visited Levi’s Stadium.
Rodgers will be searching for his 2nd Super Bowl appearance.
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Header photo credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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