The 2015 Seahawks Re-Watch. Week 2: The Pack Attack
On January 18th, 2015, a gray, lukewarm Seattle day, sixty-eight thousand 12s reached Century Link Field by bus, by boat, by car, by trolley, and began to celebrate a second consecutive conference championship appearance. Hosting the game yet again, and having had a dramatic last second victory against the San Francisco 49s in the 2013-2014 season, due to the now famous Richard Sherman pass deflection, a feeling of elation and inevitability prospered. It would not last. By the time the third quarter began, the Seahawks were down 16-0, due mostly to an avalanche of mistakes and miscues. On the Green Bay sideline, the feeling of elation and inevitability had become their own, as they dreamed of the Super Bowl, as they looked forward to either the New England Patriots or the Indianapolis Colts.
Four minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
“The Comeback,” a combination of touchdowns, field goals, an onside kick, a two point conversion, and a hail mary, sent the dejected Packers back to Wisconsin in an all too familiar fashion. The Packers had been handed a series of stinging defeats at Century Link, including another hail mary loss in 2012. Like the rest of the NFC, the Green Bay Packers were simply unable to beat the Seahawks. No matter what they did, no matter what they tried, no matter their plan or their execution, they were sent home packing.
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The Seahawks were slated to face the NFC North Conference for the 2015-2016 season, including a much-hyped Sunday Night Football rematch against the Green Bay Packers. At one of the most historic football shrines in America, Lambeau Field, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and the big D entered into an electric atmosphere where Packers fans awaited their chance to knock the Seahawks down. Like their foes, the Packers had an amazing home record, where All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers had amassed a 36-3 record, while also throwing four hundred and eleven pass attempts without an interception.
The task was no small one, but the Seahawks, still hurting over a last second loss to the St Louis Rams, came in fired up and focused. To win this game it would have to be a Seahawk game, a low-scoring slugfest where the tougher, more devoted team won enough of the small battles to take the big one. However, the team winning the small battles was not the Seahawks.
Two Michael Bennett offside penalty led to free play bombs from Aaron Rodgers, who used the strategic advantage to test Richard Sherman, one of the most dangerous and dynamic cornerbacks in the league, and who had last intercepted Rodgers in the end zone during the NFC Championship Game. The result was a deep field completion and a fifty-two yard pass interference penalty. Sherman would add to the woes by giving up a holding penalty and a touchdown. On the offense, the game was no cleaner. Drive after drive had come to abrupt stops, led by penalties and mistakes, leaving Russell Wilson with only 62 passing yards and Marhawn Lynch with only 29 yards at the half.
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The problems were deeper than just the numbers.
The aforementioned offside penalties were desperation penalties, an attempt by Bennett to get his team back in the game. The Seahawks were giving up yards, and not running yards, but passing yards, a once thought impossibility for a unit dubbed “The Legion of Boom.” As the defense kept trotting out onto the field time and again, a product of the offense’s inability to keep the chains moving, a desperation fell over the Seahawks. The team’s identity, its heart, its source of pride and courage, the bombastic Marshawn Lynch was unable to exit the backfield, oftentimes wrapped up by multiple defenders only moments after receiving the handoff. It message was clear: “We will not let Marshawn Lynch beat us.”
It was a repeat of the Rams game. Nothing was working.
Coming out the second half and receiving the kick, Bevell put Marshawn Lynch wide-out, hoping to keep the pocket from crashing in on Russell Wilson. The result was a one-handed grab by Luke Willson. The offense had a pulse. They were marching down the field. The end result from a Russell Wilson heavy drive was a touchdown to Fred Jackson, a recent acquisition from the Buffalo Bills. The Seahawks would duplicate their success on the next drive, this time with Russell throwing a dart to a leaping Doug Baldwin in the end zone. The score was 17-6 and the results were telling. On the second touchdown drive, Marshawn Lynch was never on the field, only this young, unknown, undrafted rookie by the name of Thomas Rawls.
The high-flying, volume-passing Seahawks had been born.
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In what would develop as a pattern to the 2015-2016 season, the Seahawks returned to their Lynch heavy run offense during fourth quarters, hoping to kill clock and pound opposing defenses to submission. The team entered the final fifteen minutes up a single point. With two minutes left, they would be down by ten, driving down the field, hoping they could attempt a repeat of the NFC Championship, an onside kick to drive the field for the victory.
It was not meant to be.
The Seahawks lost a third straight game, all three games having been blown fourth quarter leads. Again, the offense failed to score over twenty points, putting even its historically great defense in a difficult position. The team would leave Green Bay 0-2. It was two brutal losses, and the Seahawks had played tough in both games, but the confusion lingered. Everyone remembered the magical third quarter. The offense was so beautiful and so deadly. The Hawks had put up two passing TDs in the space of minutes. Why did they stop?