The Seattle Seahawks had their backs against the wall and playoff hopes on the line Thursday night. Then in the fourth quarter, they put together a 75-yard touchdown drive to steal a 27-24 win against the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers finished the night with 332 passing yards and two touchdowns. But when he had a chance to drive the field for a game-tying field or go-ahead touchdown, the Seahawks defense held to preserve the win.
Now, the Seahawks are 5-5 and in the thick of the NFC Wild Card race. Green Bay fell to 4-5-1 on the year with all five losses coming in road games. It’ll be an uphill climb for the Packers to get back in the competitive NFC North race with the Vikings and Bears battling for the top spot.
Here are four winners and three losers from Thursday:
Winner: The Seahawks running backs
The Seahawks’ rookie first-round pick, Rashaad Penny, had a breakout game last week against the Rams, and he looked the part again in Week 11. Early in the game, he dazzled with a 30-yard run that left many Packers defenders looking silly:
Rashaad Penny with the backyard football moves #GBvsSEA pic.twitter.com/UJy5GeOUMx— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 16, 2018
Penny was banged up on the run, though. He finished with only eight carries for 46 yards, but that cleared the way for Chris Carson to shine with 83 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
Mike Davis added another 26 rushing yards on only four carries, making it a collective effort of 155 yards on 29 carries from the trio. That’ll do the trick.
Winner: Packers outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell
What’s most wild about Kyler Fackrell’s game is that he only finished with three sacks. It felt like he took down Russell Wilson about once a drive.
Fackrell was an unstoppable force all night, although it helped that — even after two sacks earlier in the game — the Seahawks still decided not to block him:
The THIRD sack of the night for Kyler Fackrell! #GBvsSEA #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/LoXVycMI3l— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 16, 2018
Fackrell had three sacks against the Bills earlier in the season, making him and T.J. Watt the only two pass rushers in the NFL with multiple three-sack performances so far in 2018. If he can put together the hat trick before the end of the year, Fackrell will set a franchise record.
Loser: Packers coach Mike McCarthy
Early in the game, running back Aaron Jones finally looked like he was a part of the offense the way Aaron Rodgers has been begging for him to be.
Aaron Rodgers thought RB Aaron Jones not only helped offense pick up 1st downs, but that he was especially useful in the red zone. #Packers scored 4 red-zone TDs vs. Dolphins. Jones had half of them. "He’s a great player. We just need to continue to give him more opportunities."— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) November 13, 2018
It was working too. Jones scored an 8-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter and caught a 24-yard touchdown in the second. Then he disappeared and finished the game with 11 carries.
But misuse of an offensive weapon aside, McCarthy really bumbled the fourth quarter.
Despite replay showing a deep pass to Tyler Lockett hit the ground, McCarthy opted not to risk losing a timeout by challenging.
Russ pour Tyler Lockett, magnifique ! #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/Rl7DSNAL97— NFL France (@FirstDownFR) November 16, 2018
The Seahawks scored a go-ahead touchdown shortly thereafter.
When the Packers were stuck with a short fourth down in the final minutes, McCarthy trusted his defense to get a stop and get the ball back. They didn’t.
McCarthy has been accused of holding back Rodgers, and that wasn’t quite the case Thursday. Rodgers had a chance to win the game and blew it on his final drive. But it was far from a great night for McCarthy either.
Winner: Packers tight end Robert Tonyan
Really the hero of this play is Rodgers, who threw a ball nearly 60 yards on the money while rolling right and off balance. But let’s give a nod to Tonyan, the Packers’ FOURTH-STRING tight end, who made his first career catch in style:
GOING DEEP! @AaronRodgers12. @RobTonJr. TOUCHDOWN!!!#GBvsSEA #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/bJDdpnib0V— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 16, 2018
Tonyan is a second-year undrafted player who hadn’t caught a pass since his days with the Indiana State Sycamores. After spending his rookie year on the practice squads of the Lions and Packers, he worked his way on to the active roster. Now he’s making plays. Or at least one really great play.
Loser: Snap counts
There were false starts aplenty Thursday. That’s not atypical in a loud place like CenturyLink Field, but it’s odd when it’s the home game that keeps jumping.
The problem may have had less to do with noise and more to do with some nefarious tactics by the Packers:
The Packers DL keeps barking out the snap count and moving. They aren’t allowed to mimic the snap count.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 16, 2018
No penalty was ever assessed to the Packers for simulating the snap, but the Seahawks didn’t have as much trouble in the second half after four false start penalties before halftime.
Winner: Packers wide receiver Davante Adams
Green Bay raised eyebrows when it gave Adams a four-year, $58 million extension just before the end of the 2017 season, but all he’s done since is prove he’s worth it.
Adams didn’t get into the end zone against the Seahawks, but he did set a career high with 166 yards on 10 receptions. It was the fourth time in six games that Adams finished with more than 130 receiving yards, putting him behind only Julio Jones this season.
His biggest play of the game was a 57-yard catch down the right sideline, despite having one of his hands pulled down.
crossover to stack pic.twitter.com/BQ4gAKobPM— betz (@alltwentytwo) November 16, 2018
He doesn’t often come to mind when people name the best receivers in the league, but Adams continues to show he may deserve a spot in that conversation.
Loser: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
Wilson’s statistics weren’t so bad by the end of the night, and, yes, he ultimately did enough to win. He had 225 yards and two touchdowns, but it could’ve been an easy win for the Seahawks if Wilson had a better night. His worst mistakes didn’t show up in the box score.
He missed a wide open Doug Baldwin early in the game for what should’ve been an easy touchdown.
Russell Wilson missed his receiver on this play in the end zone pic.twitter.com/VdQnNAoYkU— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 16, 2018
He killed the Seahawks’ chance at scoring before halftime when he did an inexplicable illegal forward lateral.
Ball lands here on Russell Wilson's lateral/pass.... I thought we went over this last year?— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 16, 2018
Since he's running forward his momentum threw it forward.... Or did we say that since the actual ball landed more forward, then it's a penalty? #Seahawks #GBvsSEA pic.twitter.com/ze2xVp9j6d
Wilson also caught a deflected pass for an 11-yard loss instead of letting it fall to the ground. When there was a mistake to be made, it seemed Wilson found a way to make it.
He didn’t wind up the goat of the night, though. That distinction belonged to McCarthy. Wilson’s game-winning touchdown drive saved the day for the Seahawks, even if it wasn’t enough to land him in the winner’s column. But who really cares about that?