Green Bay’s collapse at Seattle Sunday was a shocker—even if the Seahawks were the favorites. For the first 57 minutes they held Seattle’s offense in check—mainly by forcing five turnovers. Russell Wilson was picked four times—including twice by rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, yet the Seahawks still came back to win.
And though the loss was largely blamed on Green Bay tight end Brandon Bostick’s special teams gaffe, it wasn’t just one play that did them in.
Before the final quarter collapse, the Packers laid the groundwork for failure by settling for a pair of first quarter field goals from the one-yard line. The most ridiculous was after the Packers had second and goal at the 1, following Wilson’s first pick, yet failed to punch it in on two running plays right there.
Following the first try, that ended up as a Mason Crosby field goal, the Packers recovered a fumble deep in Seattle territory, and again they ended up at the 1-yard line on fourth and goal. Again they kicked another chip shot.
“We had some chances early, we had some chances late to do some things, and didn’t do it,” Rodgers told The Associated Press. “When I go back and think about it, I think at times we just weren’t playing as aggressive as we usually are.”
Had they been aggressive and rolled the dice on fourth and goal and gone for it both times, odds are they would have scored at least one. One touchdown and extra point was worth more than the two field goals they made and would have been enough to withstand (barely) Seattle’s run at the end.
Now to the critical fourth quarterback. Here’s where it really went wrong:
With 15:00 left: Clinging to a 16–7 lead, running back James Starks streaked down the sideline for 32 yards on the first play of the quarter before being tackled by All-Pro corner Richard Sherman. But Sherman appeared to hyper-extend his elbow tackling Starks. Although he got right up and ran right back onto the field, Sherman (who picked Rodgers early in the contest) clearly was in pain and didn’t look like he could use his arm. Yet Rodgers, who may not have been aware of how disabled he was, never took advantage of the situation.
At 5:13: Now up 19–7 safety Clinton-Dix picks Wilson for the second time in the game, off a deflected pass and the rookie, despite having plenty of room to run in front of him, just downs it right there—like it was game over. This was an underrated turning point. There was way too much time left to declare themselves the winners. Seattle saw it, and it clearly fired them up. A long return could have set up the Packers for at least another field goal. Instead they went three-and-out and the Seahawks got the ball right back and finally got their first offensive touchdown with 2:09 left to cut the lead to 19–14.
Then at 2:09: Here is when Bostick’s gaffe happens, giving the ball back to the Seahawks. Seattle, with only one timeout left, had to onside it and though it was Bostick’s job to block (and let someone else catch it) he went for it, missed, and Seattle recovered.
At 1:33: Marshawn Lynch runs 24 yards to the end zone to put the Seahawks up 20–19. The Packers actually caught a bit of a break that he didn’t decide to down it inside the one. Though it’s a risky play, Seattle could have run another play or two before scoring and forcing Green Bay to use a timeout or two. But he didn’t and they would end up with enough time to convert a field goal.
At 1:24: After Lynch’s score, Seattle needed a two-point conversion to give them a three-point cushion. The Seahawks lined up for a pass that looked dead from the get-go yet somehow Clinton-Dix was unable come up with Russell Wilson’s desperation heave to Luke Willson on the end zone line and it’s a three-point lead.
Then at 12:36 (in overtime): The Seahawks won the toss and six plays later, Wilson found Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown on first and 10. Had the Packers held them to three points, they would have gotten a chance to respond. Instead it was game over.
So, despite forcing five turnovers the Packers found themselves on the losing end due to a number of mistakes themselves—and not all of them show up in the box score.