Aaron Rodgers had so much time to find receivers, you may have been able to complete passes against the Seahawks.
Seattle’s game plan against Green Bay’s short, quick passing game relied on getting pressure from its four defensive linemen — Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel and Ahtyba Rubin on base, early downs, with Cassius Marsh and Frank Clark entering for passing situations. That plan failed. Miserably.
The consistent stream of four Seahawks mostly got stonewalled by the Packers’ five offensive linemen. On the few times Seattle did get near Rodgers, the two-time league MVP sidestepped the defenders and continued to look down the field. His receivers were there, with so much open green space they looked like Wisconsin’s many grazing farm animals.
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As Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane said: “It’s kind of hard to cover a guy for, like, 15 seconds.”
Lane emphasized he was not criticizing the pass rush. And he was to blame for letting Packers wide receiver Davante Adams get behind him for a 66-yard touchdown catch down the right sideline on the game’s third play.
But Rodgers had time to look at three different receivers on that play.
It may not have been decisive — not with Russell Wilson’s career-high five interceptions and the Seahawks committing six turnovers in their 38-10 loss to the Packers.
But the lack of any pressure or even effect on Rodgers contributed greatly to the Seahawks’ most lopsided defeat in six years.
NFL rules being so slanted to the offense — no contract on receivers past five yards beyond the line of scrimmage being the biggest one — defenders cannot possibly keep receivers from breaking open when the quarterback gets more than four, five, even six seconds to throw. Rodgers had such time on most of his drop backs.
He finished 18 for 23 for 246 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 150.8 that was the highest for a quarterback in the regular season against a Pete Carroll-coached Seahawks defense.
The Seahawks rarely brought blitzers. Midway through the second quarter, when linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright blitzed, was apparently the first time Seattle sent more than four at Rodgers. The Seahawks tried a nickel blitz once, but Jeremy Lane showed it early, Rodgers saw it and changed the protection and play, and Lane got swallowed inside by a Packers lineman.
Seattle’s only sack came with nine seconds left in the third quarter, when Rodgers fell down and Rubin fell on top of him. Green Bay led 28-3 by then.
“Yeah, we didn’t rush the passer very well,” Carroll said.
“We were hoping to keep him from floating. We were hoping we could crush down the pocket a little bit on him. And he just found enough space. He wasn’t running. He was just moving. And he did a great job. He’s a remarkable guy after the normal rhythm of the play.
“It wasn’t anything fancy.”
Bennett said it wasn’t all legal.
Seattle’s Pro Bowl defensive end did appear to get held on Green Bay’s first touchdown. Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari grabbed the tops and backs of Bennett’s tiny, middle-schooler-like shoulder pads and didn’t let go. It looked like an awkward, extended bear hug between two guys that don’t like each other — while Rodgers made his three reads before finally finding Adams break past Lane.
“You didn’t see them, like, on top of our shoulder pads? The whole game like that,” Bennett said. “I asked the ref, ‘How when a guy is coming at you like this …’
Bennett grabs the back of a reporter’s shoulders.
“…you can’t do anything. Even when Rube got his sack, I pushed a dude all the way back and I tried to push him off. But how can I push him off when the dude has got the back of my pads.”
The official’s response?
“Oh, you’ve got to spin, bud,” Bennett said he was told.
“Try to spin when a guy’s got your shoulders like this…
“It’s just one of those things. They get away with holding all the time.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle