Every member of the Green Bay Packers’ defense should have endured sleepless nights after last season's playoff loss.
Green Bay finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, and entered the NFC playoffs as a wild-card team. The Packers defeated Minnesota in the first-round, which gave them the opportunity to face San Francisco in the NFC Divisional game. The Packers’ simple assignment was to stop a young 49ers quarterback named Colin Kaepernick, who was playing well, but did not have any playoff experience.
Kaepernick proceeded to give Green Bay an experience they have not forgotten.
San Francisco’s quarterback completed 17-of-31 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns during a 45-31 dismantling of Green Bay. Kaepernick also rushed for 181 yards, which was a record for an NFL quarterback in a regular or postseason game.
Green Bay faced the challenge of stopping Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during Week 3 of the preseason on Friday. Russell is a quarterback with scrambling ability, and considering the first two games on Green Bay’s schedule are against San Francisco (Sept. 8) and Robert Griffin III’s Washington Redskins (Sept. 15), Wilson was the barometer to measure Green Bay's progress.
So far, so good.
Wilson completed 10-of-15 passes for 110 yards by halftime, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked twice before the third-quarter. Seattle’s quarterback began the game 7-of-7 for 94 yards before Green Bay’s defense figured out how to apply constant pressure on Wilson. Green Bay’s defense played so well, Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy was called for holding twice, plus picked up a personal foul, during the first half.
In addition, Wilson was sacked twice on Seattle's first series in the second half, but one of those takedowns was negated because of a holding penalty. Wilson finished with 11-of-17 completions for 126 yards, two interceptions, and 13 yards on one carry before he exited the game.
Green Bay’s strong defensive performance on Friday was a step in the right direction for the Packers, but their true test occurs when Kaepernick is under center in two weeks.
For now, the Packers’ defense appears as if they have improved enough to avoid a repeat of last year’s nightmarish performance.
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