Monday, January 13, 2020

First Rate on Third Down Helps Packers Past Seahawks

By Eric Goska
Members of the media interview Ted Eisenreich,
the Packers Director of Facility Operations, early Sunday morning.
Green Bay’s all-time yardage generator on third-down passing in the postseason was at it again Sunday against the Seahawks. It was his mastery of that down that helped the Packers edge Seattle 28-23 in a divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.

The Green and Gold converted 9-of-14 third-downs (64.3 percent). Included in that total was a kneel-down on the game’s final play, a situation in which the team wanted to run out the clock, not earn a first down.

For Green Bay, it was the seventh time in 57 playoff games that the team converted at a rate of 60 percent or better. The club is 7-0 in those games.

In addition, the Packers scored three of their four touchdowns on third down. Aaron Jones plowed in for two on the ground and Davante Adams scored once through the air.

Only once before in the playoffs – a 28-7 win over the Rams in 1967 – had the team accounted for that many six-pointers on third down.
Workers pour salt onto the walkways at Lambeau Field.
Aaron Rodgers was particularly effective at procuring fresh sets of downs. He overcame six third downs with passes and erased another with a 2-yard quarterback sneak late in the second quarter.

Two of his biggest completions, of course, occurred on the game’s final drive. He hit Adams for 32 then tossed to Jimmy Graham for nine, the latter allowing Rodgers to kneel three times to run out the clock.

Rodgers played well overall. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He compiled a passer rating of 113.7.

As the down increased, so, too, did his passer rating.

On first down, he clocked in at 64.96 (11-5-66-0-0). On second down, he settled in at 122.62 (7-4-56-1-0).

On third down, Rodgers flirted with ‘perfection.’ There, the 15-year veteran completed 7 of 9 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown for a rating of 155.79.

Graham was Rodgers’ weapon of choice on third down. The big tight end caught three passes for 49 yards and three first downs.

Adams hauled in two for 52. His first was a 20-yarder that put Green Bay up 7-0.

Geronimo Allison and Jamaal Williams caught the other third-down throws. Williams was the only one to fail to earn a first down as he came up three yards short on third-and-12 late in the first quarter.
This isn’t the first time Rodgers has excelled in this manner in the postseason. He has put up some third-down numbers that are unmatched in team annals.

Rodgers has thrown for 1,279 third-down yards. That’s the team record ahead of Brett Favre’s 1,126.

The quarterback from California has passed for more than 100 third-down yards in six different games. That’s twice as many times as all other Packers passers combined (Favre 2; Bart Starr 1).

Furthermore, Rodgers has produced 73 first downs on 154 third-down pass attempts. That ties the club mark set by Favre in 189 attempts.

Nine years ago in Atlanta, Rodgers unleashed perhaps his finest third-down postseason performance. He connected on 10 of 10 throws for 151 yards. His play was one reason Green Bay (seeded 6th) knocked off the top-seeded Falcons 48-21.

Third down is an area in which the Packers must improve if they are to beat San Francisco in the NFC championship game. Green Bay converted just one of 15 attempts in the November meeting between the teams. Rodgers was 3 of 9 for 17 yards without a first down.

Excelling on third down to the extent they did against Seattle will be darn near impossible for the Packers at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers allowed the second fewest third-down conversions (64) during the regular season behind the Patriots (47), and their opponents converted at a rate of 33.3 percent, tied with Dallas for second place behind, once again, the Patriots, at 24.1 percent.

Extra point
Jimmy Graham became the second tight end in team history to catch three third-down passes in one playoff game. Jermichael Finley was the first when he snagged three for 71 yards against the Cardinals in 2010.

Chains Smoking
Postseason games in which the Packers’ third-down conversion rate was 60 percent or better.

3rd Down       Pct.              Date               Opponent             Result
    11-15         73.33      Jan. 15, 1967            Chiefs          GB won, 35-10
     7-10          70.00      Jan. 12, 2008         Seahawks       GB won, 42-20
     8-12          66.67      Jan. 15, 2011           Falcons         GB won, 48-21
     9-14          64.29      Jan. 11, 2015         Cowboys        GB won, 26-21
     9-14          64.29      Jan. 12, 2020         Seahawks       GB won, 28-23
     8-13          61.54       Jan. 9, 2011             Eagles          GB won, 21-16
     6-10          60.00       Jan. 8, 1983           Cardinals        GB won, 41-16

Green Bay passers who threw for 100 or more yards on third down in a playoff game.

  A-C-Yds-TD-HI           Player                  Date            Opponent
   10-10-151-0-0       Aaron Rodgers     Jan. 15, 2011        Falcons
    11-6-138-1-0        Aaron Rodgers     Feb. 2, 2011        Steelers
    10-8-137-2-0        Aaron Rodgers     Jan. 11, 2015      Cowboys
     9-7-121-1-0         Aaron Rodgers     Jan. 12, 2020      Seahawks
    12-8-113-1-0           Brett Favre        Jan. 16, 1994      Cowboys
    13-7-110-1-1           Brett Favre         Jan. 4, 2003         Falcons
     9-6-109-0-1         Aaron Rodgers     Jan. 15, 2017      Cowboys
    10-8-108-1-0            Bart Starr          Jan. 1, 1967       Cowboys
     8-5-104-1-0         Aaron Rodgers     Jan. 10, 2010       Cardinals

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