Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 Packers v. Seahawks Analyzed

The Green Bay Packers accomplished three things on Sunday:
#1) trounced the Seattle Seahawks,
#2) didn't suffer any major injuries and
#3) punched their ticket to the playoffs.

In one of the more impressive regular season performances of the Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy era, the Green Bay Packers demolished the Seattle Seahawks 48-10. The game was out of hand early in the 3rd quarter, which allowed Mike McCarthy to insert backup quarterback Matt Flynn (along with a number of back ups on both sides of the ball) at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Here were the top five plays from the game:

#5) Green Bay leads 7-0, Green Bay ball on their own 33 yard line, 3rd and 4 with 1:37 left in the 1st quarter:
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) threw deep left to Greg Jennings (Green Bay) for a 40 yard gain.

This play never happens last season, Mike McCarthy would not have called a play that gave Aaron Rodgers a chance to take a shot in that situation. With how well Rodgers is playing this season, McCarthy trusts Rodgers in almost any situation. McCarthy dialed up a play that got Jennings one-on-one with a cornerback. Rodgers saw the mismatch and threw a perfectly weighed ball to keep the drive alive. That completion helped propel Rodgers over 4,000 passing yards for the season. That gives Rodgers back to back 4,000 yard passing seasons to start his career, the first (yes you read that correctly) quarterback to do that in NFL history.

#4) Green Bay leads 14-0, Seattle ball on the Green Bay 8 yard line, 3rd and 6 with 12:10 left in the 2nd quarter:
Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle) threw short middle intended for T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Seattle), tipped by Johnny Jolly (Green Bay) and INTERCEPTED by Atari Bigby (Green Bay) for a touchback.

The game was not out of hand at this point. If Hasselbeck throws a touchdown, Seattle only trails by only 7 points. Instead, Hasselbeck threw an ill advised pass that was tipped at the line by Jolly (who set a Packer record for 11 tipped balls in a season) and intercepted easily by Bigby because the intended receiver (T.J. Houshmandzadeh) slipped on the play. After securing the interception, Bigby smartly went to the ground to force a touchback. Often times defenders want to make the big play and try to take interceptions out of the end zone instead of taking the ball at the 20 yard line. Very rarely is it a good decision to take it out of the end zone which actually puts their offense in worse field position.

#3) Green Bay leads 38-3, Green Bay ball on the Seattle 34 yard line, 4th and 1 with 10:52 left in the 4th quarter:
Mason Crosby's 52 yard field goal attempt is GOOD.

Mason Crosby's kicking woes have been well documented (missed field goals in 7 of the last 8 games he attempted a field goal going into the game against Seattle). This kick obviously was of little consequence for the game itself but might prove to be the confidence builder Crosby needed. Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson have stood behind Crosby all season despite his kicking problems. Today Crosby rewarded McCarthy and Thompson by nailing the 52 yard field goal, which was the first field goal he made over 50 yards since connecting on a 52 yarder in Week #1. The reaction from the sideline said it all. Rodgers, Jennings and other 1st teams lined up to congratulate Crosby. Green Bay is hoping this is the boost Crosby needs for the playoffs.

#2) Game tied 0-0, Seattle ball on the Green Bay 36 yard line, 3rd and 1 with 9:02 left in the 1st quarter:
Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle) threw short right, INTERCEPTED by A.J. Hawk (Green Bay) at the Green Bay 36 yard line and returned 29 yards to the Seattle 35 yard line.

Green Bay won the toss and elected to receive. I am still not too sure why McCarthy elects to receive. With how well the defense is playing this season I would always defer to the second half. On their opening possession, Green Bay went three and out. After a below average punt from Kapinos, Seattle marched down the field running the ball on 7 of 8 plays on the drive. Facing a 3rd and 1 on their 9th play of the drive Seattle ran a play action boot leg play for Matt Hasselbeck. Great call by the way. Any time you can get a slow quarterback moving outside the pocket with very few receiving options on 3rd and 1 you have to take it. With no receiver within 10 yards Hasselbeck threw a perfect strike to A.J. Hawk. If Hawk had any speed it would have been returned for a touchdown. Instead Hawk was run down by every offensive lineman on Seattle.

#1) Green Bay leads 14-3, Green Bay ball on their own 44 yard line, 1st and 10 with 5:46 left in the 2nd quarter:
Ryan Grant (Green Bay) runs off left tackle for 56 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

This was Grant's second big run in three weeks. Grant had a 62 yards TD run against the Chicago Bears in Week #14 (click here and scroll down to play #2). Grant is not an overpowering runner like Ahman Green in his prime (or Sunday when Green ran over the entire Seattle defense to pick up 16 yards on a 3rd and 1). Grant is at his best when he makes one cut and hits the hole. On the 56 yard touchdown run against Seattle Grant hit the hole, made a quick side step to evade the safety at the second level and was off to the races. The Green Bay running backs got into the end zone 6 times against Seattle (2 rushing by Grant, 2 rushing/1 receiving by Jackson and 1 rushing by Green) so there were a number of plays to choose from for the top spot but Grant's 56 yard touchdown run had to be #1 since it put the game out of reach before halftime.

Trojan Boner of the Week Award - Matt Hasselbeck
Just as a refresher, the award goes to a player/coach/referee that makes a stupid play(s)/decision(s)/call(s) during the game.

Hasselbeck's line for the day: 19 for 37, 198 yards, 1 touchdown (that came with only 4 minutes remaining to pull Seattle within 38 points) and 4 interceptions. This marks the second week in a row Hasselbeck threw 4 interceptions. Last week Hasselbeck did it at home against the now 3-12 Bucs after the Bucs knocked off the Saints in New Orleans. Hasselbeck now holds the distinction of being the only Seattle quarterback in team history to throw 4 interceptions in 2 games in a single season.

Hasselbeck threw two picks to Bigby, one to Hawk and one to Jarrett Bush. You read that correctly, Bush got a pick. I have to give Bush credit, it was actually a text book play by him but pretty sad for Hasselbeck considering Bush is the guy that evvery team has identified as the Packers' biggest weakness.

Green Bay has not been a kind place to the Seahawks, they have lost 5 straight in Green Bay (a few coming in the playoffs in recent years). Let's take a quick look back to see if Matt Hasselbeck deserves the "lifetime boner award" when he plays in Green bay as a member of the Seahwaks.

No one can forget the overtime playoff game when Seattle won the coin toss only to have Hasselbeck say "we'll take the ball we're gonna score." Hasselbeck threw a touchdown pass, unfortunately for him it came on an interception returned for a touchdown by Al Harris for Green Bay to end Seattle's season.

A few years later Seattle was also the only thing that separated Green Bay from the 2007 NFC Championship game. Seattle jumped out to a 14-0 lead set-up by two costly fumbles by Ryan Grant. Quick tangent, I missed the start of the game because I was attending a wedding. As I ran to the car I heard the second touchdown on the radio. I was going to drive my beautiful wife to be and friends to the hotel to catch the rest of the game bu once we heard the score I handed over the car keys and immediately started foaming at the mouth. Luckily the Packers got back on track and ended up routing Seattle 42-20.

The only reason I can think of for why Hasselbeck is so horrible in Green Bay is that he might just be a die hard Packer fan. Hasselbeck started his NFL career in Green Bay before being traded to Seattle. Based on how horribly he plays in Green Bay may be he is conflicted on who he really wants to win the games. I am going to make the leap and give Hasselbeck the modified "lifetime boner award". Whenever Hasselbeck plays in Green Bay, bet heavy on the Packers.

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