Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Seattle’s Field Goals Come Up Short

By Eric Goska
Lambeau Field less than two hours before the Packers and Seahawks kicked off.
Short of pitching a shutout, holding an opponent to nothing but field goals often provides a path to victory.

The Green Bay Packers did just that Sunday at Lambeau Field. A strong defensive performance kept the Seattle Seahawks out of the end zone and on the short end of a 17-9 score before 78,381 fans in the season opener for both teams.

Green Bay allowed Seattle to mount just three drives that produced more than one first down. All three ended in field goals.

Blair Walsh capped the first, a 74-yard advance, with a 33-yard field goal that gave the Seahawks a 3-0 lead as time expired in the first half. Walsh hit a 21-yard chip shot to close to 7-6 in the third quarter. The former Viking then nailed a 41-yarder with six minutes, 21 seconds remaining for the final points of the game.

Seattle’s offense enjoyed its best moments during the time it spent setting up Walsh’s kicks. The unit amassed 197 of its 225 yards and 10 of its 12 first downs during the excursions.

The three advances were the only times Seattle got inside the Packers’ 40-yard line. In each case, Green Bay stopped the Seahawks cold on consecutive plays to force the kicks.

After reaching the Packers’ 15-yard line on a 29-yard scramble late in the second quarter, Wilson failed to connect on back-to-back passes. Cornerback Quinten Rollins nearly intercepted the second attempt intended for Tyler Lockett just four seconds before halftime.

In the third quarter, Seattle went nowhere after picking up a first down at the Green Bay 3. Safety Kentrell Brice held Chris Carson to no gain on first down, and Wilson again couldn’t connect on consecutive pass attempts, the second with defensive tackle Mike Daniels about to hit him.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, Wilson fired incomplete three times from the Packers’ 23. Paul Richardson, Amara Darboh and Jimmy Graham were his targets.

Allowing a team to score nothing but field goals is noteworthy. Last season, at least one touchdown was scored by both teams in 236 of 256 regular-season games.

Throughout history, the Packers have been successful when holding their opponents to nothing but field goals. The team has gone 63-12-3 (.827) in the regular season when doing so.

That record includes 25 straight wins. The last team to beat Green Bay on field-goal strength alone was Dallas which booted seven in a 21-6 win on Nov. 18, 1996.

The last team to beat the Packers with only three-field goals in the scoring column was the Bears. Bob Thomas was good from 18, 49 and 28 yards out as Chicago eked out a 9-7 decision at Lambeau Field on Sept. 16, 1984.

The 10 regular-season games in which Green Bay’s opponents scored nothing but three field goals.

Date                      Result             Opponent
Sept. 10, 2017       W, 17-9           Seahawks
Dec. 17, 2007       W, 17-9           Lions
Oct. 20, 2002        W, 30-9           Redskins
Oct. 28, 1984        W, 41-9           Lions
Sept. 16, 1984        L, 7-9             Bears
Oct. 5, 1980          W, 14-9           Bengals
Nov. 16, 1969         L, 7-9             Vikings
Sept. 19, 1965       W, 41-9           Steelers
Nov. 23, 1961       W, 17-9           Lions
Oct. 2, 1960          W, 28-9           Lions

Opening Day Opponents
The 2017 opener was the 12th for Mike McCarthy as head coach of the Packers. Over the years, the league has been tough on him (and his team) when it comes to the season’s first offering.

On Sunday, the Seahawks became the latest opening-day challenge. Seattle was 10-5-1 a year ago and beat the Lions 26-6 in a wildcard playoff game before falling to the Falcons 36-20 in the divisional round.

The Seahawks are expected to again contend for an NFL championship this season.

McCarthy’s team got a stiff test in his first game as coach in 2006. The Chicago Bears, 11-5 in 2005, blanked the Packers 26-0 while keeping them out of the red zone.

Green Bay has faced similar tests since. In the last 12 years, no team has faced a more daunting opening-day lineup than have the Packers.

Nine of the 12 teams were winners the year previous. Eight won at least 10 regular-season games the year before opening against Green Bay.

Under McCarthy, the Packers have opened against the Bears (11-5), Eagles (10-6), Vikings (8-8), Bears (9-7), Eagles (11-5), Saints (11-5), 49ers (13-3), 49ers (11-4-1), Seahawks (13-3), Bears (5-11), Jaguars (5-11) and Seahawks (10-5-1). Add up the numbers and Green Bay’s opponents were 117-73-2 (.615) in the years prior to facing the Green and Gold.

No other team has been so tested. The closest is the Ravens at 108-83-1 (.565).

Green Bay has done relatively well with the hand it was dealt. The Packers are 8-4 in season openers under McCarthy. Only the Patriots (10-2), Eagles (9-3) and Broncos (9-3) have done better.

So which team or teams have had the easiest go of it? That would be the Cardinals and Seahawks, both at 77-114-1 (.404).

Arizona has opened against three teams with winning records from the previous year. Seattle has done so just twice: Green Bay in 2014 (8-7-1) and Green Bay in 2017 (10-6).

The Seahawks are 7-5 in openers since 2006.

Open to Adversity
Teams with the most difficult season-opening assignments (based on their opponents’ records from the previous year) since 2006.

Team               Opp. Records
Packers            117-73-2 (.615)
Ravens             108-83-1 (.565)
Chiefs               107-85-0 (.557)
Cowboys         107-85-0 (.557)
Bills                  106-86-0 (.552)
Giants               106-86-0 (.552)

Titans               105-87-0 (.547)

1 comment:

  1. ....as always, very insightful, and loaded with data that discusses winning & losing. Goska scores again...and not a field goal....