A loss in their last game exposed the Green Bay Packers’ injury-depleted secondary. That may not a big concern against their next opponent.
With a win Sunday and a loss by either the Giants or Dallas, Green Bay (9-5) will clinch an NFC wild-card spot. The Packers have missed the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons.
Green Bay could have taken a step closer toward a postseason spot last Sunday, but had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 37-36 loss to Pittsburgh. The Packers allowed Ben Roethlisberger(notes), who finished with franchise-record 503 yards, to throw a 19-yard touchdown on the game’s final play after taking their first lead with 2:06 remaining.
Green Bay had allowed only 14.2 points and an average of 254.6 yards of total offense during its longest winning streak of the season.
“All losses are difficult,” coach Mike McCarthy told the Packers’ official Web site. “Losses in December are probably a little more important.”
McCarthy’s team hadn’t given up more than 200 yards passing in its previous three games, but lack of depth in the defensive backfield could be to blame for ending the run. Al Harris(notes), Will Blackmon(notes) and Pat Lee(notes) have all suffered season-ending knee injuries and Jarrett Bush(notes) struggled.
“Yeah, we still have confidence,” he said. “Evidently, we didn’t play to our standards (Sunday). But we’ll get it together.”
While the defense hopes to regroup, the offense looks to continue surging after Green Bay matched its highest-scoring game of the season.
Aaron Rodgers(notes) threw for 383 yards—one off matching his season high— despite completing only 54.2 percent of his passes. He had completed nearly 70 percent of his throws during the Packers’ winning streak.
Rodgers could be in for another big game this week as Seattle ranks 29th in passing defense, allowing 249.4 yards per game.
After the stunning loss to the defending World Champions, Green Bay may have a much easier time against Seattle (5-9), which has been outscored 58-14 while losing its last two games.
The Seahawks fell 24-7 at home to woeful Tampa Bay on Sunday. That was the fourth time they were held to nine points or less—the most since Hasselbeck’s first season as a starting quarterback in 2001.
He matched a career-high with four interceptions, including two that led to 10 points, and had a fumble. In a 34-7 defeat at Houston on Dec. 13, Hasselbeck had three fumbles an interception.
“I’ve got to be better for my teammates,” said Hasselbeck, who has been playing with broken ribs, a sore throwing shoulder and a banged thumb. “I just really feel like I let a lot of people down today. It’s my fault. It’s on me.”
Hasselbeck’s performance was just the first in a series of recent misfortunes for the Seahawks.
After long snapper Kevin Houser(notes) was hospitalized later on Sunday with a collapsed lung that will almost certainly end his season, former coach Mike Holmgren said Monday he wouldn’t be returning as an executive to help the struggling franchise, which will miss the playoffs for the second straight year after five straight postseason appearances including a Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh in 2006.
Instead, Holmgren will be joining Cleveland as team president, and current Seattle coach Jim Mora said focus will be the key from here on out.
“What we have to do is take these next two weeks and really focus on working hard, sticking together as a team,” he said. “Then after the season’s over, step back and really take a good, hard look at it and see where we are, and exactly what we need to do to get better.”
A win at Lambeau Field would be a nice step. However, Seattle hasn’t won in Green Bay since a 27-7 victory in 1999, losing four in a row including two playoff games.
Rodgers threw two touchdowns as the Packers beat the Seahawks 27-17 in Seattle last season.