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Week 10 Report Card: Packers Beat Seahawks

The star of Sunday's show for the Green Bay Packers was the pass defense that shut down the high-flying Seattle trio of Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Thanks to the Green Bay Packers’ swarming defense, Russell Wilson’s 150th career regular-season start and return to the lineup was nothing to celebrate. For the first time in his NFL career, he was on the wrong side of a shutout. His 39.7 passer rating was the fourth-worst of his career. All that legendary rehab equated to 4.03 yards per passing attempt, the third-lowest mark of his career.

Green Bay’s defensive dominance was enough to overcome sketchy performances by the other phases.

Here is our weekly report card.

Passing Offense

Just looking at the numbers, it would appear Aaron Rodgers returned in fine form from his 10-day COVID isolation. Without practicing and on a seasonably cold evening, Rodgers threw for 292 yards with a 62.2 percent completion rate. Under the premise of you touch it, you catch it, four of those incompletions were drops (two by Aaron Jones, one by Allen Lazard, one by Davante Adams). Turn those into catches, and it would have been 73.0 percent and perhaps 350 yards. Plus, Randall Cobb had a shot on an end-zone pass in which cornerback D.J. Reed’s back was turned. Make a few plays and perhaps it’s a different story.

But those plays weren’t made, so it was a fits-and-starts day for the passing attack. The bulk of the yards – 172, or 58.9 percent – came on five completions. That means Rodgers averaged 3.7 yards on his other 32 passes. The 41-yard completion to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the opening series could have been a 61-yard touchdown. On the third drive, Rodgers lamented a wobbly, underthrown deep ball to Allen Lazard. The interception was a bad one, especially for a quarterback who has made a living on superb decision-making.

AJ Dillon’s 50-yard catch included two broken tackles and 52 yards after the catch. Jones had gains of 24 and 23 on screens.

On the opening series, Elgton Jenkins was flagged for holding on a Rodgers scramble and gave up a sack on the next play. The mistakes were noteworthy because they are so incredibly rare. He is one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. In totality, Green Bay’s offensive line was superb in the protection phase. There were a lot of free rushers vs. Kansas City. There was only one on Sunday, when tight end Josiah Deguara ran into Adams and let safety Jamal Adams come free.

Grade: C.

Rushing Offense

Green Bay rushed for 106 yards on 32 attempts, a 3.3 average. Take Rodgers’ scrambles out, and the backs gained 98 yards on 30 tries. That’s not very good. The short-yardage running game was terrible for the first three quarters. Green Bay kept running it out of shotgun; perhaps that was for the good of Rodgers, who entered the game with an injured toe.

But, when the Packers needed it, the run game delivered. Touchdown runs of 3 and 2 yards in the fourth quarter came on third down. On the clinching touchdown drive, Dillon kept thundering away. The gains were incremental but effective in keeping manageable down-and-distance situations.

Dillon carried 21 times for 66 yards and Jones got seven attempts for 25 yards before dropping out with a knee injury. Of their 91 rushing yards, 78 came after contact by our count. Dillon broke three tackles.

It should be noted that rookie right guard Royce Newman had a good bounce-back game after a poor performance last week. Jenkins, as usual, was excellent.

Grade: B-minus

Passing Defense

Wilson completed 20-of-40 passes for 161 yards. There are few better receiver tandems in the NFL than D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Green Bay dominated. Metcalf caught 3-of-8 targets for 26 yards and was ejected in the fourth quarter. Lockett caught 2-of-8 targets for 23 yards, with an inconsequential 16-yarder coming on the final play of the game.

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At cornerback, Eric Stokes and Kevin King started on the perimeter and Chandon Sullivan got the nod in the slot. Out of 61 defensive snaps, Sullivan played all 61, Stokes played 60, Rasul Douglas played 42 and King played 20. They were magnificent. According to Pro Football Focus, Stokes was targeted four times and gave up zero completions. King gave up two completions for 10 yards and had one of the game’s big plays with an end-zone interception. Douglas had a key sequence in which he stopped D’Wayne Eskridge for minus-4 and broke up a pass to Metcalf.

Last season, when safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage rounded into form during the second half of the season, the defense took hold. It’s been the same story this season. Amos was superb with one interception and three breakups.

Preston Smith, Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark spent most of the evening in Wilson’s face. The Seahawks should have charged them rent for how much time they spent in the backfield. Smith, Gary and Whitney Mercilus had the sacks, and PFF credited Smith and Clark with a team-high eight pressures apiece. It was a pass-rushing clinic, with Clark providing consistent push and the edges trapping Wilson in the pocket. Mercilus’ bicep injury is a major blow.

Grade: A-plus.

Rushing Defense

Green Bay dared the Seahawks to run the ball but Seattle didn’t take the offer. Even with it being a one-score game going into the fourth quarter, Seahawks running backs got only 11 attempts. Alex Collins gained 41 yards on 10 yards. You wonder why he didn’t get more chances, especially with Wilson’s struggles.

Wilson forced four missed tackles (Smith, Gary, Clark and Amos) on scrambles but, otherwise, the tackling was tremendous. Gary, as usual, was a bulldog against the run. He’s Exhibit A on why sack numbers don’t necessarily mean excellence at his position.

Grade: B.

Special Teams

Mason Crosby missed a 42-yard field goal on the opening possession. The replay on CBS seemed to show a good snap and hold, and the protection was great. It’s hard to blame Crosby if doubt has crept in because the snapping and holding and protection have been such ever-present issues. He’s missed seven field goals this season after missing a combined two the past two seasons. After starting 9-of-9 on field goals, he’s made just five of his last 12. Given the way the offense has been scuffling all season, can the Packers continue to leave points on the field?

On the bright side, Corey Bojorquez punted three times with a 46.7-yard average and gave up 0 return yards. Isaac Yiadom had excellent coverage on the first punt but Seahawks returner Freddie Swain inexplicably called for fair catches on the other two. After a poor game against the Chiefs, Amari Rodgers fielded all four opportunities and had a 16-yard return. Malik Taylor’s only kickoff return went for 32 yards, the team’s longest since Week 2.

Grade: C.

Coaching

Offensively, Matt LaFleur and Co. faced a huge challenge in getting Rodgers ready to face a high-quality defense. There was a real dedication to handing Dillon the ball in the deep red zone. Rodgers is great, obviously, but giving it to the 245-pound Dillon with the goal line in sight is a good bet. Still, the Packers went 2-of-5 in the red zone. If there’s a red flag, it’s the combination of bad red-zone offense and bad field-goal kicking.

Defensively, Metcalf, Lockett and Wilson vs. any defense should be an advantage for Seattle. Somehow, Green Bay won on the perimeter with a rookie coming off a knee injury (Stokes), a veteran that found no interest in free agency (King) and a corner who was grabbed off a practice squad (Douglas).

LaFleur is 34-8 as coach and still hasn’t lost back-to-back regular-season games.

Grade: B.

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