With Aaron Rodgers healthy, the Green Bay Packers entered the 2014 season with expectations of contending for a Super Bowl title.
However, they’ll have to improve significantly if they want to dethrone the defending champion Seattle Seahawks should they meet again in the postseason.
Behind Marshawn Lynch’s 100-yard, two-touchdown performance, the Seahawks thoroughly dominated the Packers on their way to a 36-16 victory in Thursday’s season opener. Picking up right where they left off in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks shut down another prolific offense, holding Green Bay to just 255 total yards, its third fewest since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Despite holding a 7-3 lead at the end of one quarter, and only trailing 17-10 at the half, the Packers couldn’t keep it together in the second half, as Seattle pulled away. Rodgers was under duress for much of the night, as he was sacked three times, with Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril putting pressure on him several times throughout the night. Losing Bryan Bulaga to a knee injury in the second quarter didn’t help, but Green Bay’s offensive line looked more like subway turnstiles than pass protectors for most of the night.
Eddie Lacy, who left the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter, didn’t fare much better, running for just 34 yards on 12 carries.
While the Packers offense struggled against the vaunted Seattle defense, their defense also was unimpressive.
The Seahawks had 398 yards of total offense (207 rushing and 191 passing), with quarterback Russell Wilson passing for a pair of touchdowns to go along with Lynch’s two on the ground. Dom Capers’ unit looked mostly defenseless against the Seattle offense, especially in the fourth quarter, where the Seahawks put together a few scoring drives to seal Green Bay’s fate.
Seeing the defense struggle mightily yet again was a painful site for fans, players and coaches alike. The Packers’ defense has been a point of weakness for them over the past several years, and it will continue to prevent them from being serious championship contenders until they improve.
CenturyLink Field is probably the NFL’s toughest stadium to play in, and Seattle is unquestionably the league’s best team right now, but it was disheartening for Packers fans to see their team be so clearly outplayed down the stretch, especially after hanging tough and keeping the score close in the first half.
The Seahawks looked like a team that’s ready to make a serious push to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions in a decade. The Packers looked like a team that has quite a few kinks to work out before they can even think about making a run to bring the Lombardi Trophy back home.
But at least this game didn’t end like their last meeting in Seattle, right?