–Defense makes high-impact plays, but at a cost: Seattle QB Russell Wilson isn’t easy to get to, but the Packers defense made several big plays against him, recording three sacks and two interceptions of Wilson, who played the entire first half and the first series of the second half.
Unfortunately, some of those players making the big plays also left the game with injuries.
Wilson started hot, converting a pair of third downs with long pass plays on the opening drive, but LB Clay Matthews sacked him for a 12-yard loss in the red zone, leading to a field goal.
“He’s going to make his plays, but for the most part, we got after him, got our hands on him and got him down,” Matthews said of Wilson.
The defense opened the second drive with another sack, this one by LB Brad Jones, before getting a pair of interceptions on the Seahawks’ last two drives of the first half. The first was by CB Casey Hayward, who was making his preseason debut, off a double deflection by LBs Nick Perry and Robert Francois.
“Obviously he’s continuing his playmaking ability from last year,” Matthews said of Hayward, who led all NFL rookies in 2012 with six interceptions. “It was good to have him back out there, good to see what he’s capable of, and we’re going to need it this year.”
Hayward may have come back from his hamstring injury too soon, however. He re-aggravated the hamstring in the game. Jones and S Morgan Burnett also were mentioned by Mike McCarthy after the game as having hamstring injuries.
The second interception came from S Jerron McMillian, who made a diving grab of an overthrown ball at midfield.
The defense got one more sack of Wilson on the opening drive of the second half, as backup DL Jordan Miller brought him down. Another sack by DE C.J. Wilson three plays later was negated by an offensive holding penalty, which the Packers accepted for the additional lost yardage.
Rookie LB Nate Palmer added a sack of backup QB Brady Quinn in the second half, and another sack of Quinn by DL Mike Daniels was nullified by an offsides call on linemate Datone Jones.
“From what I understand, our sack numbers jumped dramatically from 2011 to 2012, so I think we were pretty good last year, and I think we’re improving this year,” Daniels said.
–Harris limps off: Another notable injury was to RB DuJuan Harris, who got his first preseason action and had three carries for two yards, plus one reception for 11 yards. But after the 11-yard catch, Harris was slow to get up and said afterward his knee was bothering him, the same knee that kept him out of the first two weeks of training camp.
“I’m all right,” he said. “I walked off. Everything will be good.
“It felt like it’s been forever since I took a carry. I feel like I could have done a little more on some of those, but we’ll see when we look at the film.”
–Crosby makes it count: K Mason Crosby bounced back from his three-miss practice on Wednesday to convert his only FG try on the night, from 38 yards in the first quarter.
“Whatever happens during the week, I need to have a good game,” Crosby said. “I felt good on that field goal.”
–Finding daylight: In what could be shaping up as a battle for the last RB spot on the roster, third-year pro Alex Green found some daylight on a wide toss play, cutting upfield for 31 yards, more than double the longest rush by a Packers back in this preseason.
“It’s very important to go out and show at least a little bit of what you can do,” Green said. “Hopefully it’s enough for the coaches to like.”
Assuming Harris plus draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin make the team, a final RB spot could come down to Green or James Starks, who didn’t get any carries Friday night and was unable to make up for a fumble in last week’s game in St. Louis that led to his removal from the contest.
Tags: alex green, brad jones, c.j. wilson, casey hayward, clay matthews, dujuan harris, interceptions, james starks, jordan miller, mason crosby, mike daniels, nate palmer, russell wilson, sacks
Posted in Packers.com Blog
RT Bryan Bulaga, who has been one of the Packers’ best pass blockers over the last couple of seasons, attributed his rough first half on Monday night in Seattle to a lapse in fundamentals that took him out of his game.
Bulaga surrendered two early sacks to Seahawks rookie rusher Bruce Irvin, a first-round draft pick, and allowed other pressures of QB Aaron Rodgers throughout the first half. Rodgers was sacked eight times in all and the Packers were shut out at intermission.
“I didn’t use any fundamentals for most of the first half,” said Bulaga, who was beaten both by Irvin’s power and speed initially. “I was just out there … I don’t know what I was out there doing. I just wasn’t playing my game, and that’s what happens, and I know that’s not going to happen again.”
Bulaga is listed on the injury report this week with a knee injury and has been a limited participant in practice, but he said that had no bearing on his performance. Mike McCarthy said he expects Bulaga to “play through” the injury this week.
Bulaga added that he didn’t get a fire-and-brimstone speech from position coach James Campen at halftime. The score was only 7-0, and a tirade probably would have caused everyone to lose focus on a winnable game. Plus, the performance was so out-of-character for Bulaga and his linemates that the problems were as much mental as anything.
“It was more settle down and play your game,” Bulaga said. “I think that was the message he was trying to get out there. That’s what I had going on in my mind, just chill out here and do what I do. There was no screaming or yelling. I don’t think anyone in college or high school or even this level had that kind of first half as a group. It was a matter of we had to settle down and get it together here.”
The Packers did that, putting together three straight scoring drives in the second half, helped by a commitment to running the ball, which they did successfully.
“The first half was certainly not the way we want to play,” LG T.J. Lang said. “We got beat up pretty good there in the first half, but watching film of the second half, it’s inspiring to watch the way we responded out of that. It could have been very easy to put our heads down and go in the tank a little bit. But we responded in a positive way and had a pretty solid second half.”
The quick rebound has the linemen eagerly awaiting a return to the field Sunday against the Saints, both to continue that recovery and further erase the abysmal first half.
“There’s no excuse for your quarterback getting hit that many times,” Lang said. “It’s obviously embarrassing as a group, when your quarterback is getting hit like that, sacked eight times in one half. It’s something we take a lot of pride in, and we certainly need to have a better game this week keeping Aaron upright.”
Added Bulaga: “Yeah, it will get a little bit of bad taste out of our mouths I think.”
Tags: bryan bulaga, offensive line, sacks
Posted in Packers.com Blog