GREEN BAY, Wis. – The 2014 NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks will live in infamy because of the Packers’ collapse, but the game should have been over before halftime. While Green Bay led 16-0 barely 20 minutes into the game, the margin should have been much more lopsided.
On Green Bay’s first possession, Aaron Rodgers believed he had drawn the Seahawks offside so he threw it deep to Davante Adams but was intercepted in the end zone by Richard Sherman. Moments later, the Packers took over at Seattle’s 19 on an interception by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix but the drive stalled just inside the 2 and they settled for a field goal. The Packers took over at Seattle’s 23 when Brad Jones forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff but the drive stalled at the 2 and they settled for a field goal. Leading 16-0, Green Bay took over at its 44 following another interception by Clinton-Dix but Rodgers returned the favor. In all, the Packers turned four first-half takeaways into just six points and settled for a 16-0 halftime lead.
Seattle got on the board on a fake field goal, with punter Jon Ryan throwing a 19-yard touchdown to lineman Garry Gilliam. Still, with a 19-7 lead, Green Bay appeared to clinch the victory on Morgan Burnett’s interception with 5:04 to play. Outside linebacker Julius Peppers told Burnett to get to the turf – and Burnett did, giving up a likely touchdown that would have driven a final stake into Seattle. Instead, three runs by Eddie Lacy went absolutely nowhere and the Packers punted with 4 minutes to go.
The wheels, of course, fell off from there. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson scored from the 1, Brandon Bostick fumbled the onside kick rather than letting Jordy Nelson field it, Lynch rumbled in from 24 yards for the go-ahead score and Clinton-Dix played as if his cleats were stuck in concrete in giving up the two-point play that gave Seattle a 22-19 lead. A gimpy Rodgers drove the Packers to the tying field goal and overtime. Green Bay, however, never saw the ball in the extra period. Seattle drove 87 yards for the winning touchdown, with Wilson beating a blitz with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse against Tramon Williams.
“You feel like it’s a waste of seven, eight months,” left guard Josh Sitton said a day after the game. “What’s the point of getting this far? I’d have rather not even made the playoffs.
“We kicked their ass up and down the field all day,” Sitton continued. “And there’s no reason we shouldn’t have won the game. Literally one of 10 plays you can pick that if we get it, we win the game. It’s frustrating when you should have won the game and you’re the better team. I thought we were the better team all day except for 3 minutes.”
Added receiver Randall Cobb: “We just fell apart. You look up with 5 minutes left, you say, ‘There’s no way you can lose this game.’ And it just seems like we did everything to lose that game in that last little bit.”
A Rodgers vs. Tom Brady matchup in the Super Bowl would have been a game for the ages. Instead, the Packers wasted a chance to win a second Super Bowl in the Rodgers era. This season, with seemingly everything going Green Bay’s way, will Rodgers ever be in a better position to win a second title than he is this season?
Green Bay leads the series 20-9, including 2-1 in the playoffs. The 2003 playoff game at Lambeau Field went to overtime. Seattle won the toss and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck famously proclaimed, “We want the ball and we’re going to score.” Instead, he threw a pick-six to Al Harris.
“I was just happy I caught the ball. There’s guys who played with me who would tell you my ball skills weren’t that good,” Harris said recently.
In the 2007 playoffs, Seattle took a 14-0 lead just 4 minutes into the game before being buried alive 42-20 at snowy Lambeau Field. Ryan Grant ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
In Week 3 of the 2012 season, Seattle beat the Packers 14-12 on Wilson’s “Fail Mary” touchdown pass to Golden Tate that looked like a game-ending interception by M.D. Jennings. Shortly thereafter, the league struck a deal to bring its regular officials back following a contract dispute.
Green Bay has won eight consecutive home games in the series. Seattle’s last win at Lambeau Field came in 1999, a 27-7 romp in which Brett Favre threw four interceptions and Seattle won with Jon Kitna throwing for just 109 yards.