Once upon a time, the third preseason game was deemed a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season and the starters would play one series into the third quarter.
On Friday night against Seattle, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played one series.
The Seahawks won 17-10, thanks to Brady Quinn’s 42-yard touchdown pass over Loyce Means with 8:51 remaining in the game.
The Packers’ goal, however, wasn’t winning the game as much as it was finding a backup quarterback and rounding out its roster. After five brutal possessions by Graham Harrell, Vince Young gave the Packers a spark and potentially has moved ahead in the battle to be Rodgers’ top backup.
After Seattle took a 10-3 lead on its first drive of the second half, with Christine Michael running through the No. 2 defense for a 43-yard score, Young replaced Harrell to the cheers of the Lambeau Field crowd. Young took advantage of big voids in the Seahawks’ defense for runs of 21 and 18 yards, with a dropped interception by Allen Bradford and a 16-yard bootleg to Andrew Quarless in between. Young capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Amosa.
"Sometimes it’s just what the defense gives you," Young said. "They had man coverage and a lot of backs were turning. They had some loops going with the defensive line and I saw an opening. Definitely went through my reads but as a quarterback like myself, when you see things like that, you make plays and try to get those defensive corners not to play that man or two-man defense on you, because they definitely have to respect your legs."
B.J. Coleman played three possessions in the fourth quarter. His second drive put the Packers in range of the end zone but Jake Stoneburner was stripped around the 10-yard line for a killer turnover.
Coleman’s third possession started at the 6-yard line with 1:53 remaining but he failed to get a first down.
Rodgers, who played 10 snaps against the Seahawks after 41 in a full two quarters at Cincinnati in the third preseason game last year, led the offense to a field goal with his only drive of the night, and the Packers settled for a 3-3 tie at halftime.
After Seattle marched to an opening field goal after Russell Wilson beat Packers blitzes with completions of 17 and 27 yards, Rodgers answered. The big play was a 22-yard completion up the middle to Jermichael Finley. On third-and-6, Rodgers faced pressure up the middle and missed Finley for what could have been a touchdown. Mason Crosby hit a 38-yard field goal to tie the game.
Harrell played the rest of the first half encompassing four series. The first series was derailed by holding on left tackle David Bakhtiari, the second ended in receiver Jarrett Boykin’s fumble, the third ended on a fourth-down touchdown pass to Finley that was overturned by replay and the fourth was a three-and-out punt. On the play to Finley, fourth-and-goal from the 2, Harrell tried to thread the ball into coverage, and a lunging Finley deflected the ball to himself but couldn’t control it when he hit the ground.
Harrell was 5-for-12 for 47 yards for the half and 6-of-14 for 49 yards after a three-and-out to start the second half. He moved the offense to four first downs. Three of his incompletions were overthrows; four if you include the pass interference on a deep ball to James Jones that gave the Packers 25 yards.
"Graham, frankly, there’s some video we really need to look at," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I’ll have to see. He had some tough breaks with the penalties. But the rhythm of the offense and some of the things mechanically, I would like to see us be more sharp there. We played primarily an eight-man front, and we didn’t do a very good job of handling it."
Young, on the other hand, played two series – a touchdown and three-and-out punt on a possession ruined by a bad shotgun snap from Patrick Lewis. He went 6-for-7 for 41 yards and a touchdown, plus 39 yards on two scrambles. His drives picked up five first downs.
The defense, on the other hand, was strong while facing Wilson for the entire first half, even with Morgan Burnett exiting after one series (hamstring) and Clay Matthews and Brad Jones playing the first quarter. Casey Hayward and Jerron McMillian had interceptions. Nick Perry deflected the pass that Hayward grabbed. The Seahawks had 155 yards but went 2-of-6 in third down.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.