By Chris Cluff
What is it about the Seahawks and controversial games? Not since the Seahawks were on the short end of the officiating in Super Bowl XL has a game ended with so much debate about the quality of officiating.
Golden Tate’s last-play touchdown on Russell Wilson’s 24-yard pass, which Tate was ruled to co-possess with Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings, gave the Seahawks a 14-12 victory Monday night, and the Packers and pundits went crazy over the controversial ruling.
The call for the NFL to get the regular officials back in had already been growing louder and louder, but after that unfortunate end to the Seahawks-Packers game, it has turned into an ear-splitting scream.
While the Seahawks might agree, they are not about to give back the win that bumped them to 2-1.
The stats say Russell Wilson and Tate teamed up for two touchdowns. But there was not much else to be happy about.
The Seahawks gained just 238 yards and were just 2-of-11 on third downs. Wilson completed just 10-of-21 passes for 130 yards and also threw a fourth-quarter interception that was nullified by a dubious call for roughing the passer.
He didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers, who had trouble getting open all night. Tate seemingly ran the wrong route in the end zone and tipped a pass that seemed intended for Sidney Rice, who was in position to make the catch on fourth-and-3 on the next-to-last drive.
The Hawks did run it fairly well, with Marshawn Lynch gaining 98 yards on 25 carries. But it wasn’t enough to spark the passing game.
Left tackle Russell Okung returned from a bruised knee and had two more penalties, a false start and a holding penalty (another hold was declined as the Packers accepted a different holding penalty on the play). He has four false starts in two games this season. Grade: C-
The defense was spectacular in the first half, sacking Aaron Rodgers eight times and holding the Packers to just 82 yards and no points.
Chris Clemons tied the NFL record with four sacks in the half, and rookie Bruce Irvin and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who is playing at a Pro Bowl level through three games, each had two sacks.
But the Packers shored up their protection in the second half and were able to run the ball a little better. They dominated the time of possession as the Hawks once again had trouble getting off the field on third down, giving up three straight scoring drives until they finally forced the Packers to punt from their 7-yard line with 57 seconds left. That set up Seattle’s wild final drive to win it.
The Seahawks allowed Green Bay to convert 7-of-15 third downs, a week after Dallas converted 7-of-13. It is the one major failing of this defense so far this season. The Seahawks also failed to get a turnover for the first time this season. Grade: B
Jon Ryan was a monster all night. He booted a 73-yard punt, dropped three inside the 20 and averaged 51.5 yards on six kicks. Is this finally the year he makes the Pro Bowl?
The Hawks did not give Leon Washington much room to roam on returns. He averaged 21 yards on two kick returns and 2.5 yards on two punts.
On the flip side, the Hawks did a good job of containing Green Bay’s explosive Randall Cobb. He averaged just 4.0 yards on three punt returns and had one kick return for 23 yards. Grade: B
Wilson was on the run a lot, hassled for much of the night by Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews. Wilson was sacked only once, by rookie linebacker Nick Perry, but the Packers’ pressure on third downs affected him. He was 0-for-6 passing on third downs and 1-for-2 on fourth downs, with the one conversion coming on the hotly debated final play. Wilson did make a nice pass to Tate for a 41-yard score in the second quarter, but he otherwise had trouble moving the ball through the air. Grade: C
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.