Packers aware stumbling Seahawks could bite them


GREEN BAY, Wis.(AP)—As the Green Bay Packers make their push toward the playoffs, they know a seemingly beatable team like the Seattle Seahawks can jump up and bite them.

Literally, at least in quarterback Aaron Rodgers’(notes) case.

Going into Sunday’s home finale for the Packers (9-5) at Lambeau Field, Rodgers recalled an unpleasant moment in last year’s 27-17 victory over the Seahawks: He said defensive end Darryl Tapp(notes) bit him on the arm during a play.

“It felt like a bee sting,” Rodgers said. “I was looking down, and he was biting my arm, so I had to get his teeth off my shoulder. Luckily, I was wearing a long sleeve.”

If Tapp sinks his teeth into Rodgers on Sunday, that will be as close as any of the struggling Seahawks (5-9) will come to tasting the playoffs this year.

The Packers already have shown they can handle adversity, bouncing back from a disappointing 4-4 start to put themselves back in the middle of the playoff race with a five-game winning streak.

Now, after their defense struggled to stop the pass in a last-second loss at Pittsburgh, it remains to be seen how a young and flawed - but still potent - Packers team handles pressure to make the playoffs.

“You always want to bounce back from a loss, especially a tough one,” cornerback Tramon Williams(notes) said. “Those tend to linger a little bit. You always want to just forget about it, come back that next week, get a win, and feel refreshed.”

And stay in control of their playoff fate.

“I just know that if we win two, we’re in,” Rodgers said.

Should they lose Sunday, and Dallas and the New York Giants win, things get more complicated. And Green Bay’s season finale is a challenging one, at Arizona.

With all that in mind, Rodgers insisted the Packers wouldn’t take the Seahawks lightly - especially with cold and potentially snowy conditions forecast for Sunday that could cause a few funny bounces and suddenly level the playing field.

“We’re not sneaking up on anybody,” Rodgers said. “We know what we’re in for.”

The Seahawks don’t sound quite as confident.

Set back by injuries and inconsistency, Seattle hit a low point in last Sunday’s 24-7 home loss to Tampa Bay. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck(notes), who committed five turnovers on Sunday, spoke bluntly about the Seahawks’ struggles this week.

Asked about the multiple ways the Packers use Charles Woodson(notes), who morphs from cornerback to safety to blitzer in Dom Capers’ defensive scheme, Hasselbeck wasn’t expecting anything fancy.

“I don’t know if he’ll do anything special for us,” Hasselbeck said. “I don’t know what, necessarily, would scare them about us that they would have to change up what they do with Charles Woodson.”

But after playing like one of the NFL’s best defenses during their recent winning streak, the Packers allowed Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger(notes) to throw for an eye-popping 503 yards and gave up the lead on a last-second touchdown pass.

Hasselbeck, however, noted that several of the Steelers’ big gains came on broken plays, and doesn’t necessarily expect the Packers to show the same vulnerabilities Sunday.

“I don’t know, it was almost like watching a team shooting 3-pointers that they banked them in or something and they didn’t call glass,” Hasselbeck said. “It’s like, ‘Come on, that doesn’t count. Does that really count?’ I felt like Green Bay was in good position on a lot of plays, and Ben did a really nice job of evading a tackle and throwing it up and somebody else catches it.”

Still, the Packers appeared to miss two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris(notes) for the first time since his season-ending knee injury Nov. 22. Tramon Williams is a capable fill-in as the Packers’ No. 2 cornerback, but Green Bay still must find reliable extra defensive backs.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy remains supportive of nickel cornerback Jarrett Bush(notes), who was burned for big plays Sunday.

“It’s always easy to be critical of a player when you see a big play go over the top of his head,” McCarthy said. “But I also take those opportunities to look at myself, and how are we using him. Are we asking him to do too much? … I have all the confidence in Jarrett that the things we ask him to do, he’ll be successful.”

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Updated Thursday, Dec 24, 2009