Entering the game, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson were ranked N0. 1 and No. 2 in quarterback passer rating. Career. In NFL history.
So this is what happened Thursday night on national TV.
Wilson threw a backward pass that went forward, and a forward pass that went backward. Rodgers, on third-and-two on the Packers 33-yard line with 4:20 left that represented the final chance for Green Bay to win, chunked a pass maybe six yards into the Clink’s rubberized dirt that might have been the worst pressure pass of his illustrious career.
As noted philosopher Mick Jagger once wrote, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you find you get what you need.
Especially if you were the Seahawks.
The duel between big-time quarterbacks was less than dazzling. But it was Wilson who turned early disaster into late euphoria. Trailing 14-3, the Seahawks belatedly went Seattle old school — withering ground game, smothering defense — and pulled out a 27-24 triumph (box) significant on several levels.
They evened their record at 5-5, beat an NFC rival for a wild-card berth for the first time in the series’ past four meetings, ended a two-game losing streak and in the second half held the Packers to three points and three first downs.
And they finished.
With the game on the line and trailing 24-20 inside nine minutes, the Seahawks blasted down the field 75 yards in seven plays, finishing with a 15-yard touchdown hookup between Wilson and TE Ed Dickson that was a paradigm of perfect play call and execution.
The almost effortless drive contrasted with the recent losses to the Chargers and Rams, when Wilson’s trademark fourth-quarter superpowers fizzed, burbled, crackled and flopped.
“Russ came back,” said coach Pete Carroll. “He didn’t hit some stuff early on, and then came back and played a fantastic game.
“At 14-3, it didn’t look very good.”
A fumble lost by RB Chris Carson on Seattle’s first scrimmage play turned into a 29-yard Packers touchdown drive. Wilson helped get the Seahawks down to the Packers 21 before throwing two of the most misguided passes of his career, missing open WRs Doug Baldwin and David Moore by acres.
After settling for a field goal, Carroll approached Wilson on the sideline.
“Basically, he was trying to say calm down,” Wilson said. “I said, ‘Hey, I’m good. I’m great.’ I feel confident in what we’re going to do.”
Wilson then described one of Carroll’s homilies about Rick Barry, the NBA scoring champion at Golden State when Carroll was an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.
“He said, ‘If he’s missing some, then watch out,” Wilson said. “I just believe that I know what I’m capable of. Great things can happen.”
After the desultory start, Wilson in the second half went 8 for 12 for 113 yards and no turnovers. To coin a phrase, he Barryed the Packers.
Wilson, who finished 21 of 31 for 205 yards, even rediscovered his old touchdown companion, Baldwin, who scored for the first time this season after an injury-hampered start.
“I wanted to get him involved — he’s a superstar,” Wilson said. “Me and him have thrown a lot of balls together and scored a lot of touchdowns together.”
Baldwin had a team-high seven receptions. The 52 yards were modest, but the production was the best he’s had this season, creating the prospect of a second-half asset to supplement the running game that had another big output (173 yards on 35 carries).
“Getting that touchdown, yes, made me ecstatic to be able to celebrate with my teammates,” Baldwin said. “It’s been a struggle.”
On defense, the Seahawks sacked Rodgers five times and held the Packers to 48 yards rushing. They surrendered to Rodgers two over-the-top bombs that seemingly only he can throw, of 57 and 54 yards, picking on young CBs Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers. Those kinds of missteps in the secondary are simply something the Seahawks have to live with until the kids earn their stripes.
But at the end of the game, Rodgers was the one who faltered. As the crowd 69,007, populated by a surprisingly robust contingent of cheeseheads, stood waiting for another tear in the space-time continuum, Rodgers’ easy third-down throw went nowhere.
The explanation was unique, maybe in football history: He said the ball stuck to his hand.
“I’ve done that (pass) a hundred times and probably never do that again,” he said. “It was a gimme out there. Stuck to my hand.”
The failure was even more inexplicable than Wilson’s misfires. But given the fact that it was a game on Thursday night, where quality football each week goes to die in the name of ownership greed, the absurd is normal. In fact, this game was relatively well-played, especially given that the Packers flew Tuesday after their Sunday win, and practiced at decrepit Memorial Stadium.
“The short week is tough, because you don’t really get to talk through every single look you expect to see,” said Rodgers, whose team fell to 4-5-1.
Carroll, however, glimpsed a look he liked.
We see,” he said, “the whole thing coming together.”
Much remains to be proven, but it starts with a finish.