by Mark Metzler
There were many key moments that led to the Packers defeating the Seattle Seahawks, 28-23, but in the end it was Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers executing on two key third-down throws that sealed the victory. Now, it’s on to San Francisco and the NFC Championship game. Really, who thought that was possible at the beginning of the season?
It’s good to have Rodgers on the Packers’ side. His passes to Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham were both on the money when it really counted. Adams set a record for Packers’ postseason receiving yards, and it was good to see Graham come through, finally.
The Packers’ season really came down to who wanted the win more – the Packers or the Seahawks. Preston Smith’s answer for the Packers was a key sack of the elusive Russell Wilson with just over two-and-a-half minutes left in the game. The Seahawks, led by Pete Carroll, who is a great coach, decided to punt, came up with key stops and managed the clock well, but the throws from Rodgers were too much.
Wilson is a force to be reckoned with. He throws the ball well, and he can take off with the very best of them – all time. He really stepped it up in the second half after getting bottled up in the first half. His key scramble coming up out of the half led to a score, and then after the Packers answered, he drove the Seahawks down the field again for another score, and then another score. It was nerve-wracking.
Wilson did wear the Packers’ defense down, and the question came down to whether he was going to have enough time because the Packers’ defense was running out of energy. The answer came from Smith and then Rodgers.
Another big Packers’ series was the one right after the Seattle touchdown that made it 21-10 coming out of the half. On third and six, Rodgers hit Graham with a perfect pass for a 27-yard gain. Two plays later Rodgers hit Adams with a 40-yard touchdown. It should have been the game, but Wilson wouldn’t be counted out.
In so many ways on Sunday the Packers showed that they are different this year. A perfect example was after Rodgers’ first touchdown pass to Adams. The Packers should have gotten the ball off a fumble recovery deep in Seattle territory, but the referees got the call wrong and Seattle kept control. In the past few years, it would have changed the game right there, but not this year. The team held, got the ball back and ran down for a touchdown run from Aaron Jones. And, yes, I do realize that the Packers did have a number of key calls go the right way. That last first down to Graham was generous.
The Packers had a lot of great performances. Other than the players mentioned, Za’Darius Smith came up big again, as he has all year. Another great performance came from Jared Veldheer, who stepped in at right tackle for Bryan Bulaga, who was ill. Jaire Alexander’s sack of Wilson on the two-point conversion was important, taking a field goal out of play to potentially tie the game. Overall, the defense played well, but will have to play better next week for the Packers to win.
I really should listen to the games with the sound off. It seems that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman really aren’t that impartial. It appears that they would have preferred Seattle to win. Plus, Joe Buck just grates on me. I don’t think Joe Buck would have ever had a job if it wasn’t for his dad. Jack Buck was an immortal announcer. His son is not. But that’s my rant. I am glad that the Packers are in the game Aikman and Buck are calling next week.
Now, on to San Francisco and the 49ers, where the Packers failed miserably earlier in the year. But, that’s just it – it was earlier in the year, and anything can happen. The 49ers are an exceptional team, with a defense that hit its stride in its victory against the Vikings, who were just overmatched. The offense is good too, with an excellent balance of running and passing. The Packers are a touchdown underdog, but anything can happen. And it might. It’s been a great season.