NFC Championship: Packers Rule, Seahawks Drool

Richard Sherman Interception vs. Green Bay Packers

I know that the title of the post sounds a bit childish, but I think we can agree that the better team lost on Sunday. The Packers were better team for the vast majority of the game, but the Seahawks were better when it mattered most. And ultimately that cost Packer Nation a trip to Arizona and a chance at another Super Bowl. It was an emotional loss for myself, personally, and living in Bears Country doesn’t help the matter any. I may or may not have unfriended a family member on Sunday.

Last week I gave a few items that – if followed by the Packers – would result in a win on Sunday. Let’s see how they did.

1. Establish a run game.”

This is precisely what the Packers did in the first quarter. Here are Eddie Lacy’s stats:

Drive #1: three rushes for 17 yards (drive ended with Sherman INT)
Drive #2 (following Clinton-Dix INT): two rushes for six yards (Crosby 18-yard FG)
Drive #3 (following Doug Baldwin fumble): three rushes for 17 yards (Crosby 19-yard FG)
Drive #4: two rushes for 14 yards (Touchdown to Randall Cobb)

So during the first quarter alone, Lacy ran the ball ten times for 54 yards. A solid start to the game. On the second drive, after a six yard gain by Lacy took the team down to the Seattle 1 yard line, coach Mike McCarthy decided to run the ball with Kuhn (no gain) and then Lacy (no gain) before settling for a Mason Crosby field goal. Head scratcher. It’s the NFC Championship. Go for it.

After the first quarter, Lacy only carried the ball three times in the second quarter (3 yards), four times in the third quarter (15 yards) and four times in the fourth quarter (one yard). James Starks carried the ball five times in the fourth as well for 32 yards.

The drive that could have sealed the game began with 5:04 left in the fourth. Russell Wilson had just thrown his fourth interception and Seattle fans were crushed. The Packers had a chance to put the game away. They only needed a first down or two. Here are the plays:

1. Lacy rush for -4 yards
2. Lacy rush for -2 yards
3. Lacy rush for 2 yards
4. Punt

I understand that you want to run down as much clock as possible, but in order to do so and get out of Seattle with the ‘W,’ you need to pick up a first down. And I’d feel better about Aaron Rodgers’ chances on 3rd-and-16 than Lacy’s. But all of that being said, they established the run game early, it just fell apart late when we needed it most.

RichardRodgers

2. “Utilize the tight end position.”

During the season, opposing teams had great success against the Seahawks by using their tight ends. This was a formula for success for Dallas and San Diego in their two wins. And while Green Bay doesn’t have an elite tight end on the field, they do have rookie Richard Rodgers who has made impressive progress over the course of the season – including a huge touchdown against the Cowboys last week. On Sunday, Rodgers finished the game with four receptions for a total of 35 yards.

The main thing to see about his catches was that they extended drives. His first catch came after the first interception by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (and the Mike Daniels personal foul). This 12-yard catch almost immediately gained back the yardage lost by Daniels for a first down. His second catch also picked up a key first down as the Packers moved into the red zone before scoring their only touchdown. And his fourth catch moved the sticks in the fourth quarter as well before Crosby’s fourth field goal.

So while Rodgers did not find the end zone in the contest, his contributions were important to their respective drives.

Richard Sherman Interception

3. “Get Davante Adams the ball.

After the rookie’s career day against Dallas last week, everyone was looking forward to seeing how his growth would contribute to the game in Seattle. With three, solid receivers in the mix, how would Aaron Rodgers distribute the ball?

Welp, Adams finished the day with only one catch for seven yards.

Rodgers went to Adams four times:

Q1: Pass short left for a first down. He was being covered by CB Byron Maxwell.
Q1: Pass short right – incomplete. He was being covered by CB Richard Sherman.
Q1: Pass deep right to the back of the end zone. Intercepted by Sherman.
Q2: Pass deep right – incomplete. Covered by Sherman. (Free play – defensive offsides.)

Part of me thinks that once Sherman picked him off in the first quarter, Rodgers didn’t want to try his luck again – even after Sherman was clearly injured.

At this point, it’s only a couple days after the game. I’m still not over it enough to force myself to be optimistic about our chances next season. We had a fantastic team this year. We should be in the Super Bowl.

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