The majority of games in the penultimate week of preseason play are on Saturday, but we got a couple of contests out of the way on Friday night: one was a rematch of the famous Fail Mary game from last year pitting the Green Bay Packers against the Seattle Seahawks, the other sent the Chicago Bears into the Black Hole in Oakland.
Now that starters are playing roughly half of an entire football game as they near regular season form, we can actually start deducing relatively large things from preseason games. Here's what we learned from Friday night's two matchups:
Seahawks beat Packers 17-10, both teams step up on defense
We tend to focus on what these two squads can do offensively. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack have been one of the best aerial attacks in the league for a few years now. And Russell Wilson gets deserved hype in Seattle for how he can operate the team as both a thrower and a runner, one of the league's exciting crop of young mobile quarterbacks.
But of course, both defenses can bring it. That's known about the Seahawks, who led the league with just 15.3 points allowed per game last year. They held Green Bay's highly touted offense to just three points in the first half, with Aaron Rodgers going a pedestrian 4-of-7 for 41 yards in his brief appearance, and the Packers' rushing game more or less nonexistent. Fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin had four rushes for one yard, second-round pick Eddie Lacy actually went backwards, with eight carries for a whopping -5 yards. (That's -.6 per carry, if you're wondering.)
Meanwhile, Green Bay forced a pair of picks, with Casey Hayward and Jerron McMillan each snatching Wilson passes. The Seahawks' starter went 11-for-17 with 127 yards and was sacked three times, with Clay Matthews dropping him for a 12-yard loss.
A few backups made good impressions: Vince Young genuinely looks like he'll be able to make the Packers' roster, outperforming Graham Harrell, the man currently listed as the backup. Young went 6-for-7 with a touchdown and ran for 39 yards on two carries, while Harrell had as many completions on 13 attempts. And rookie Christine Michael might push Robert Turbin for whatever carries Marshawn Lynch doesn't get, busting out a 43-yard touchdown run on an 11-carry, 97-yard night while Turbin had a strong ten carries for 50 yards.
As for the game itself, the Seahawks won thanks to a Brady Quinn fourth-quarter touchdown to break a 10-10 tie. Congratulations to Brady Quinn, I suppose.
Bears beat Raiders 34-26, Raiders are really bad
The scoreboard shows this was just a one-touchdown game. But the on-field results in the brief appearances by the starters showed one team that was simply at another level of play from the other. Chicago went up 24-0 before pulling their starters early in the second quarter, and ended the half up 27-3.
On offense, Matt Forte ran roughshod, going for 76 yards on just six carries while making moves after the catch on a 32-yard reception as well. Conclusion: he is good, and the Raiders defense might not be. On defense, the Bears forced a pair of Matt Flynn interceptions and kept Oakland off the board until a Sebastian Janikowski 58-yarder as the clock expired in the first half. That's domination, in every facet of the game.
It would take a 17-point third quarter with Terrelle Pryor taking the reins for the score to be competitive, although the takeaways from the game had already been made.
This should mean the quarterback situation in Oakland could use a few more looks. Flynn threw almost as many completions (3) as interceptions (2). Pryor, on the other hand, only had two incompletions, while throwing for one touchdown and showing his ability to move with a 25-yard rushing touchdown. Yes, Pryor operated against backups while Flynn was going against the hellish Bears defense, but the stark difference between their results has to make this a competition again, at the very least.
Then again, if the Raiders' defense is truly as bad as it was against Chicago in the first 20 minutes of this one, who's under center might just be academic.
It was nice to see Jay Cutler throw passes to somebody besides Brandon Marshall -- Marshall had no catches, Alshon Jeffery had seven for 77 yards.