Preseason football is as much about giving backups a chance to shine as it is getting ready for when the real games start.
The Seahawks and Packers accomplished the first task in their exhibition meeting Friday night won by Seattle 17-10.
As for whether they're ready for the regular season? That's yet to be determined, especially when the NFC heavyweights played a chippy game bogged down by mistakes and 22 penalties — including 14 for the Seahawks.
"What we didn't do so well was the penalties. We had so many third-and-longs, that's tough to be a really good football team," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. "We can't do things to push us backwards."
Thankfully for Wilson, two backups came up big. Christine Michael ran for 97 yards on 11 carries and Stephen Williams snatched the ball away from cornerback Loyce Means in the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown catch and the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
What we learned from the Seahawks and Packers:
1. FINDING WAYS TO WIN: After steamrolling Denver and San Diego in its previous two games, Seattle's offense hit a speed bump at Lambeau Field. Wilson finished 11 of 17 for 126 yards but threw two interceptions, including a pass tipped by two defenders that landed in the opportunistic hands of Casey Hayward. Still, even in a game in which Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn't play after the first quarter, the Seahawks can take comfort in the experience of slogging out a road win when they weren't playing at their best.
2. ANGRY DEFENSE: The Seahawks can rightfully brag about having one of the best defenses in the league after holding opponents to an NFL-best 15.7 points last year. But the Packers' defense has showed life this preseason, too, after giving up too many big plays last year. The first-string defense did give up chunks of yardage to Wilson on the opening series, but the unit held in the red zone, highlighted by a sack by linebacker Clay Matthews after he blew by 5-foot-10 running back Robert Turbin around the edge. The Packers finished with four sacks. "Everybody's angry. You watch that game today, it had nothing to do with the Seahawks," Green Bay defensive end Mike Daniels said.
3. RUN, MICHAEL, RUN: Marshawn Lynch is a lock at running back for Seattle. But backup Michael looked good too in the second half. Granted, it was against a Packers defense that was mixed and matched with backups, but nonetheless it was another statement game for Michael, a rookie out of Texas A&M. He ran for 89 yards on 16 carries two weeks ago against San Diego.
4. YOUNG QB: Speaking of players vying for playing time, quarterback Vince Young made his best pitch yet of the preseason to back up Aaron Rodgers, guiding Green Bay to its only touchdown of the night on a 1-yard pass to backup fullback Jonathan Amosa. Young finished 6 of 7 for 41 yards and ran for 39 yards on three carries. Young was signed about a week into camp, so he got a late start on terminology. "I think he's improving. This is a wordy system and a difficult system to pick up," Rodgers said. "But he's been picking it up and showing improvements."
5. NO HARD FEELINGS: For the most part, anyway, toward Seahawks receiver Golden Tate at Lambeau. It was the first meeting between the two teams since their regular-season game last year ended with Tate's disputed touchdown catch that was held up on review by replacement referees. Tate said a few fans perhaps held a grudge "and want to be drunk and flick you off." Otherwise, the receiver commended Green Bay fans "because I feel like it's a year later and they've moved on for the most part." Tate, who finished with one reception for 4 yards, was booed when his name was announced as the punt returner.
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