Seahawks Still in Shock About Game-Winning Touchdown Over Packers

The Packers went with a Cover-0 look, no safety help over the top, a play call the Seahawks still can't believe happened.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse scores the game-winning touchdown with Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams in coverage. Kyle Terada—USA TODAY Sports.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse scores the game-winning touchdown with Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams in coverage. Kyle Terada—USA TODAY Sports.

PHOENIX—By this point, it may be salt in the wounds of the Green Bay Packers, but the Seattle Seahawks remain in shock and near disbelief about the game-winning touchdown in the NFC Championship.

Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse used descriptive phrases such as "super crazy" and "mind blowing" as he recalled the moment at the annual Super Bowl Media Day, held on Tuesday. Packers fans might have some other other colorful language to describe the play, but as the saying goes, it's the winners that get to write the history books, not the losers.

What was so unbelieveable about the play was the Packers' Cover-0 look, no safety help over the top. Cornerback Tramon Williams was on an island, left to fend for himself.

"It's funny because that specific Cover-0 look we hadn't seen all game, and we had prepared all week for that look," explained Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. "It was strange that in that moment, we had got the perfect look. It's something that we had been practicing against every day during the week. 

"I was surprised, but at the same time, like I said, we prepared for it. We were kind of expecting it. We just didn't know when. And for them to call that in such a crucial moment, and for us to be as well prepared as we were for that play, it just worked out perfectly. I could believe it, but at the same time, I kind of couldn't believe it."

Everyone knows the outcome, Kearse hauled in a 35-yard heave from quarterback Russell Wilson. Game over.

What makes the play worth re-visiting, if for no other reason, is that the Packers still had a chance to win at that point in the game despite all the team's downfalls.

It's not to point the finger at Williams, who was in coverage, or defensive coordinator Dom Capers for the play call. There wasn't one single play or player or scapegoat that cost the Packers their shot at glory. Nearly everyone wearing green and gold had a moment that game they'd like to have back.

From special teams blunders to conservative play-caling to even quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who looked like a mere mortal, they all share some of the blame.

But coming back to the overtime touchdown, it's the preparation that went into the play that's remarkable.

From rote memory, Kearse could recall how many time the Packers went with a Cover-0 look in the season-opening Week 1 meeting between the two clubs.

"They did it 11 times we played them the first game, and that was what, 18 weeks ago or something like that?" said Kearse. "To think that they would do it then, we were prepared for it. It was a great move by our coaches, and it worked out well for us."

For a full four quarters, however, the Packers didn't show that Cover-0 look for which the Seahawks had been anticipating, according to Baldwin.

"The whole game they had shown different things that we had seen throughout the tape and what what we had prepared for," said Baldwin. "And there were several looks where they were kind of playing me on the outside in the slot and then bringing somebody down, a safety in the hole, to just try to stop us from the outside. We hadn't seen that much on tape, and It was difficult for us to get open against that coverage because it was kind of like double-teaming the slot guys.

"And fortunately enough, on the third-down play right before his touchdown catch, they switched it up for whatever reason, and we were able to make the play. And then the touchdown play, like I said, they showed the coverage that we had been preparing for. So I don't know why, but I think that they thought they were going to try to throw us off. But fortunately enough, those were the two coverages that we had prepared the most for."

But why? Why at that point in the game did the Packers wait to unveil this new wrinkle?

Maybe it's because Seahawks wide receivers coach Kippy Brown is experienced, has been around the block before, unlike his players, but Brown wasn't surprised the Packers went with the Cover-0 look at that point in the game.

It's simple, Brown spells out. All the chips were on the table.

"It was to win the game, that drive was to win the game," said Brown. "When you get into situations that you have to stop them, that's usually when it shows up."

The Seahawks may have driven 52 yards in five plays in overtime up to that point, including the key third-down conversion on the penultimate play of the game, but if the Packers defense makes a stop, even if they allow a field goal, then the offense still has a chance to go for the win or the tie.

On that fateful play, rangy free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix subbed out of the game and tough-guy box safety Sean Richardson was in. The Seahawks were prepared for this particular moment to happen, even if it came on the 70th play of the game.

"That was super crazy because we had just put a check in for that play if we were to see it, and we didn't see it at all the whole game," said Kearse. "When we saw it at the very end, it was just mind blowing. It was like, 'This is happening.'"

Indeed, it happened. The perfect play at the perfect time.

And yet, it was mere inches away from being incomplete. Maybe Williams could have done better, played with a different leverage, but regardless, he was stride for stride with Kearse when the pass hit him in the hands.

"I just know that Russell made the check, Jermaine got it, then it happened. We win the game," said Brown. "Those things like that happen all the time. Tramon was right there. He had his arm on him; he easily could have knocked that ball down. It just didn't happen. So he was in pretty good position to make the play. So was Jermaine, and Jermaine came up with it."

The rest is history.

Green Bay's season is over, and it's back to the drawing board. The Super Bowl might be played on Sunday, but for the Packers, the next thing to look forward to is the NFL Draft.

This loss and that monumental play will sting for a while in Titletown. But for the Seahawks, they hope it's just another chapter in what they hope will be a storybook ending.

 

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 28, 2015 at 12:58 am

Capers decided to rush 5 on the play to get pressure on Wilson. (I am okay with that since rattling Wilson seemed to be working.) He used Richardson to spy Wilson and also to help against Lynch, both of whom were starting to gain decent-sized rush yards. (One can quibble with that, I suppose.) Seattle had 5 receivers on the field: thus 0 man coverage. Instead of releasing all 5 receivers, Seattle called max protection and kept in 7 to block, and thus was able to pick up the 5 rushing packers. The biggest problem was that Tramon allowed Kearse an immediate inside release, so he got no help from the sidelines. I personally thought Tramon had decent coverage, given that if the ball is even a little under thrown he was in position to make a play on the ball. Wilson hit Kearse in stride, so game over.

I can quibble with using the spy rather than a single high safety since it was overtime: allowing a FG means GB's offense has a chance to tie or win the game with a TD. But allowing a TD is game over immediately.

Capers uses this defense. One moral that can be drawn from this is that GB needs two above average CBs. Does House fit that bill? Does Tramon anymore?

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egbertsouse's picture

January 28, 2015 at 07:52 am

I think that Dum Capers needs to take his '90's defense and join his pal Dick LeBeau in retirement. Isn't he like a million years old, anyway?

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