The Seattle Seahawks won the NFL's regular-season opener before it started. At least mentally they did.
The Green Bay Packers came in intimidated. How do we know? They made a decision, sometime since the NFL's schedule let them know they'd be traveling to Seattle for the first game, to play offense with just half of the field.
Not once did Aaron Rodgers – former NFL MVP, the NFL's all-time leader in passer rating and someone who generally isn't afraid of anything – test cornerback Richard Sherman. He never threw Sherman's way. The Packers lined up Jarrett Boykin on the right all game and threw to their left, away from Sherman, who stays at left cornerback. Before the game kicked off, the Packers decided that they'd try to win using half of the field against a defense that races to the ball like they have 22 men on the field at all times.
No chance. Seattle looked like last season's Super Bowl never finished, steamrolling the Packers 36-16 at CenturyLink Field, the same way it destroyed the Denver Broncos in the title game in February.
Say what you will about Sherman, and how he can't move around to match up with the opponent's best receiver, but cutting the field in half and forcing one of the best quarterback in football to only look to his left for receivers for 60 minutes makes a huge impact. You can complain about why Sherman didn't move around to defend Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb, but Seattle will be quite happy if future opponents also completely ignore half of the field.
The Seahawks were in the Packers' heads before the game even kicked off.
And that's just on defense. The Seahawks looked very sharp on offense too. Russell Wilson continues to get better. He was 19-of-28 for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch continues to run through anyone who tries to tackle him. He had 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns. And Percy Harvin is healthy and the Seahawks fed him the ball all night. The jet sweeps to Harvin look unstoppable, as they did in the Super Bowl against Denver. Harvin had 100 yards on 11 touches.
The Seahawks got it going in the second half when the Packers lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga to a knee injury. The pass rush cranked it up and made sure Rodgers couldn't get the ball out to those receivers who weren't on Sherman's side of the field. When Seahawks end Michael Bennett beat replacement right tackle Derek Sherrod for a strip sack that resulted in a safety, to give Seattle a 22-10 lead, the game was basically over.
Though one could argue that the game was over long before Green Bay even stepped into Seattle's stadium, the loudest and most intimidating in the league. The team that plays inside that stadium has a lot to do with that intimidation, too.
If the Packers, touted as a team that could be a sleeper in the NFC, goes into Seattle and gets destroyed like they did, what chance do most of the other teams on Seattle's schedule have?
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