It would be easy to say that all the Packers needed was for Brandon Bostick to handle the on-side kick late in the 4th quarter and Green Bay is on its way to the Super Bowl--but the Pack never should have been in the position to need that recovery. There is plenty of blame to go around--and here is how it breaks down:
- Poor linebacker play Green Bay continues to be clueless when it comes to defending the Read Option play--which Russell Wilson used to score the second Seahawks touchdown and to break off a twenty yard run on the first play following the botched on-side kick. In addition, the Seahawks picked up big yardage on wheel routes to Marshawn Lynch and the fullback with the impossible name as Packers LB's trailed in coverage. Bonus points to AJ Hawk, who on the fake field goal that got Seattle back into the game was faced with the choice of either pressuring holder Jon Ryan or covering the tackle-eligible downfield and decided to do neither.
- Poor clock management At 22-7, Seattle punted from midfield with about 6:30 left in the ballgame. Green Bay ran the ball twice (both "just running to force them to use their timeouts" plays instead of let's attack and try to gain a few first downs to seal this thing type of plays) and threw incomplete on 3rd down to save the Seahawks their final timeout. Having that timeout on both the second touchdown drive and on the drive after the on-side kick allowed Seattle to continue to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch knowing they could stop the clock if necessary. Without that TO, Seattle would have been in all-out-desperation mode having to throw on every down.
- Red zone inefficiency It was a questionable aspect of the Packers offense all year--which is confusing given the smashmouth nature of Eddie Lacy's running style. They ended the season 11th in the category--but scored touchdowns just 55% percent of the time on the road. Turn the Aaron Rodgers interception in the endzone and the two FG's following Seattle turnovers in the first quarter into touchdowns and it's 21-0 and this game looks more like the AFC Championship game ended up.
- Aaron Rodgers' calf injury There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers at 75% is better than Matt Flynn at 100% every day of the year--but #12's reduced mobility hurt the Packers offense. They couldn't use their favorite play: roll right and throw back deep left. In addition, concern about protecting Rodgers led to a game plan Sunday that included a lot of quick, short to medium range passes--and few deep balls that usually draw interference flags and instant field position.