What we learned: Seahawks 14, Packers 12 (Referee-free edition)
Three things we learned
I. Seahawks remain flag-rant violators.
Seattle was penalized 14 times in the game, their most in any game under coach Pete Carroll. In fact, there have only been three games in which the Seahawks have been penalized more times in franchise history, and for all the scrutiny of the way these games are officiated, keep in mind that a number of those penalties were self-inflicted, pre-snap penalties. Seattle was penalized for delay of game for the fourth time this season, and had two false-start penalties tight end Anthony McCoy, one against left tackle Russell Okung and a penalty against the defense for 12 men on the field.
II. The defense can't do everything.
It came close. Seattle shut out Green Bay for the first half and after the Seahawks failed to score from the Packers 7 in the fourth quarter, the defense very nearly forced the critical turnover when safety Earl Thomas ripped the ball loose from Cedric Benson. Green Bay's 12 points were the fewest for the Packers in any game since the regular-season finale in 2010, and it represents the fourth-lowest total of any game Aaron Rodgers started in his NFL career.
III. Brandon Browner might do all right in the Octagon.
This probably should have been evident last year when he executed a gut-wrench suplex of Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson last season. Browner took liberties with Packers receiver Greg Jennings on Monday, knocking him down away from the ball in the second half. Well, Jennings didn't like that too much, and he charged after Browner, who then performed a textbook takedown, put the Packers receiver on his back and was on his chest in an MMA-style full mount. Cheap? Browner's initial hit was probably unnecessary, but the way he answered Jennings' challenge was reminiscent of UFC-style ground-and-pound.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
I. Whether you can actually call this a passing game?
The Seahawks didn't attempt a pass in the third quarter. Not one. It's a statistic that almost defied belief as Seattle had a net offense of -1 and at one point faced a third-and-37 after a sack and penalty. Quarterback Russell Wilson attempted 21 passes in the game, 11 of them in the fourth quarter. Wilson completed four of those 11 passes in the final period. Seattle is averaging 127.7 passing yards this season, fewest in the league.
II. Why Seattle is paying all that money to WR Sidney Rice and TE Zach Miller?
The two are making a combined $13 million this season, and neither was among the five players who caught a pass for Seattle in the first half. That discrepancy between performance and paycheck points to the fact that they're overpaid, underperforming or criminally underused. Rice didn't catch a pass until Seattle's final play, and Miller caught two passes for 12 yards.
III. What in the world happened to Seattle's rushing defense?
After what a dominant first-half performance in which Green Bay crossed midfield exactly once, the Packers shockingly found a way to move the ball in the second half: on the ground. Benson carried 10 times in the third quarter, gaining a total of 48 yards, which is almost inexplicable when you consider that in the other three quarters combined he carried seven times and had a net loss of 3 yards on those rushes. So what happened? Carroll said his team was still too focused on rushing the passer, but the fact that Seattle's rushing defense turned out to be the reason Green Bay got back in the game remains one of the more puzzling results of Monday night.