SEATTLE (AP) — Aaron Rodgers did what he liked for the first 30 minutes. He threw a pair of touchdowns, including a 54-yarder on the run to an unknown tight end for his first NFL catch. His passer rating was nearly perfect. Green Bay looked like it could score on every drive.
And then it almost completely stopped. Rodgers was unable to solve Seattle in the second half, and was left to watch Russell Wilson lead another late touchdown drive and send the Packers back home with a loss.
“It’s tough losing on the road. It’s tough losing by one possession,” Rodgers said. “Obviously I’m frustrated, and not just by the last throw, but some other stuff that we could have done better out there. I still believe we have a lot to play for.”
Green Bay’s road woes continued in a 27-24 loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night. The Packers (4-5-1) had leads of 14-3 and 21-17, only to see Wilson throw a 15-yard TD pass to Ed Dickson with 5:08 remaining to give Seattle the lead for good.
The Packers still had a chance to get out of Seattle with its first win here since 2008, yet their final possession lasted all of three plays. And it was the last pass by Rodgers that seemed to baffle everyone.
Facing third-and-2 at its own 33, Rodgers called a quick pass to the flat for Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Except the pass never got there. It hopped in front of the intended receiver, and instead of going for it on fourth down, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy opted to punt with more than 4 minutes remaining and the Packers still having one timeout.
The decision backfired. Green Bay never saw the ball again, instead forced to watch Wilson kneel three times to run out the clock.
Rodgers said the pass for Valdes-Scantling “stuck” in his hand and guessed he could make that throw 100 times and that wouldn’t happen again.
“We beat ourselves in the second half,” Rodgers said. “We kind of moved the ball at will in the first half.”
Green Bay’s problems went well beyond that one bad throw by Rodgers and the decision to punt. Rodgers was sacked five times, four of those in the second half. Twice in the third quarter Green Bay was forced to punt after drives stalled at midfield. The Packers were 3 of 11 on third downs, 2 of 7 in the second half. A week after Aaron Jones rushed for a career-high 145 yards, the Packers had just 48 yards rushing and Jones finished with 40.
Green Bay is 0-5 on the road this season and has lost seven straight road games dating to last year.
“I think it kind of went the way we thought it would go. When you’re playing in this environment, particularly when you’re on the road up here. There’s a high tendency for big-momentum plays, big swings, and I think that definitely held true,” McCarthy said. “They made more big plays than we did. … We’ve got to finish games better, especially in the fourth quarter, and especially on the road.”
Rodgers finished with 332 yards passing and his TD throw to Robert Tonyan in the first quarter, and his 57-yard strike to Davante Adams in the fourth quarter showed again the greatness of his arm. But Rodgers had 214 yards at halftime and Seattle was able to pressure Rodgers enough in the second half to disrupt Green Bay’s passing attack.
Injuries certainly didn’t help either. Green Bay was already down four starters before the first snaps with cornerback Kevin King, safety Kentrell Brice, linebacker Nick Perry and wide receiver Randall Cobb all out due to injuries. They lost two more in the first half when Bashaud Breeland — starting for King — aggravated a groin injury and Jimmy Graham injured his thumb. Graham had a 13-yard reception on Green Bay’s first offensive play in his return to Seattle, but that was his only catch.
Mike Daniels suffered a foot injury early in the second half and backup safety Raven Greene suffered an ankle injury. Neither returned. If there’s an upside to the loss, it’s Green Bay getting extra rest before facing Minnesota in a must-win game next week.
“We have a number of opportunities where our record would be very different right now, unfortunately, that’s the way it’s played out,” Clay Matthews said. “We’ve set ourselves up for a pretty good second half, we just have to get back to work. We have no other option. On to Minnesota after a couple days rest.”
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