The Packers downplayed the emotion and importance of their "rematch" with the Seahawks all week leading into the game. There were on-field situations that happened Sunday, however, that suggested there was only partial truth to those notions.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from Green Bay’s 27-17 win over Seattle.
1. The big picture in the NFC
The Seahawks have reigned supreme atop the NFC for the past two seasons, claiming one Super Bowl in that time – and being a bad goal-line decision away from a second. The Packers, meanwhile, had lost to Seattle in the past three matchups (granted, all three games being away from Lambeau Field). And it’s not like the Seahawks are an old team that’s about to fall apart. They are the seventh-youngest team in the league, with Green Bay being just slightly younger at number six on the list, according to data from Philly.com.
Realistically, Seattle could stand in the Packers’ way of another trip to the Super Bowl for the foreseeable future. But for the first time since Russell Wilson took over the quarterback spot and teamed up with Marshawn Lynch and Pete Carroll, Green Bay was able to knock off its top NFC competition.
One win in September doesn’t ensure that the Packers can beat the Seahawks again in January, but it could go a long way in having that possible rematch back at Lambeau Field.
Even though it’s still very early in the season, Green Bay being 2-0 and Seattle at 0-2 is a first step in the Packers claiming dominance in the conference.
2. Aaron Rodgers is just that good
Rodgers didn’t have Jordy Nelson to throw to. He didn’t have Bryan Bulaga protecting him from the Seahawks’ pass rush on the right side. With the exception of eight snaps, Rodgers didn’t have Eddie Lacy to work with (more on that later). He had Davante Adams running routes most of the game on an injured ankle. He had Randall Cobb playing through a shoulder injury.
None of that mattered.
Rodgers was masterful. He played like a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who’s on his way to collecting a third MVP trophy. He was under control and in control.
Whether under pressure or not, Rodgers picked apart an elite group of defensive players. His hard count created multiple free plays, and he took shots downfield each time.
Don’t overlook Rodgers’ performances just because he’s expected to be a great player. He’s set an impossibly high standard for himself due to past success, but he somehow surpassed it Sunday night with less help than usual around him.
3. No Bulaga, big problem
Part of what made Rodgers’ performance so spectacular was because his offensive line didn’t give him much time to work in the pocket. Seattle only blitzed on two of the Packers’ 39 dropbacks, according to data from ProFootballFocus. But the Seahawks didn’t have to blitz. With a four-man rush, Seattle pressured Rodgers 18 times.
Starting in Bulaga’s spot, Don Barclay allowed 10 quarterback hurries. That earned him a minus-10.3 grade from ProFootballFocus. It’s the second-worst single-game grade handed out by ProFootballFocus to an offensive tackle so far this season.
Cliff Avril is a great pass-rusher, but a starting tackle in the NFL (even if he is only starting because of an injury to a teammate) has to hold up better than Barclay did.
David Bakhtiari didn’t fare much better on the left side of the line. He allowed seven quarterback hurries and two sacks (one to Bruce Irvin, one to Michael Bennett).
Few teams in the league can come close to boasting as strong of a pass rush as Seattle does. But Green Bay needs better performances from its tackles over the next month or so while Bulaga recovers from surgery on his torn meniscus.
4. Jayrone Elliott, unlikely hero
Elliott played just 10 snaps in the game. One of them resulted in a one-handed fourth-quarter interception. Another resulted in the game-sealing forced fumble. That’s as productive as any NFL player could hope to be on a per-snap basis.
Elliott went undrafted in 2014, but he showed flashes as a rookie after making the active roster. In front of a national television audience Sunday night, Elliott’s potential came to the forefront as he earned himself a game ball.
Combined with a productive 19 snaps Week 1 in Chicago, Elliott is going to continue forcing defensive coordinator Dom Capers to find ways to get him on the field.
5. Lacy’s injury
Lacy’s first-quarter ankle injury didn’t prevent the Packers from beating Seattle. Still, an ankle injury to a power running back like Lacy could be problematic even when he does return to the field.
James Starks was very good (with the exception of a fumble) in Sunday’s win, finishing with 20 carries for 95 yards. Long-term, though, Starks can’t do the things on a football field that Lacy can.
With Nelson already out for the season and Bulaga recovering from surgery, Green Bay needs to get Lacy back to full health. In addition to his dominance as a runner and his pass-catching ability, Lacy is also one of just three running backs on the roster. Starks and Alonzo Harris are the only two who remain until Lacy is medically cleared.