By Matthew Asher
Thanks to the great defense by Seattle, the ‘Hawks will once again be playing in the NFC Championship game. This time they host the Green Bay Packers, fresh off their 26-21 comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys. It’s been a decade since any team has repeated as Super Bowl Champions, so if Seattle wants to be the first team since the 2004-05 New England Patriots to win back-to-back championships, here are three keys to getting the team to Phoenix in two weeks.
Key 1: Keep Pressuring Aaron Rodgers
The Green Bay offensive line did a great job of keeping their quarterback protected against Dallas. Giving up just one sack, Aaron Rodgers had time in the pocket and his final stat line certainly backs it up: 24-36 for 316 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Wide receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb were each responsible for more than 115 receiving yards apiece. Combined, the two Packer wide outs caught 15 passes (Cobb had eight) for 233 yards and one 46-yard touchdown by Adams.
Rodgers completed passes to seven different Packers in the game. The one thing Rodgers did not do well was run with the football. He is credited with four rushes in the game for a total of negative-four yards. Seattle would be wise to have a spy on the Packers quarterback at all times to make sure Rodgers can’t hurt the ‘Hawks with his legs as well as his arm.
Key 2: Don’t Forget To Respect Lacy
Running back Eddie Lacy may not have scored any touchdowns against Dallas, but he had a very big impact on the game. He picked up 101 rushing yards on just 19 carries with a long of 29 yards. Lacy also caught one pass for 10 yards giving him 111 yards of offense on 20 touches for an impressive 5.6 yards per touch average. It’s also good to remember that the 5’10” 230 lb. running back isn’t afraid to run into a would-be pass rusher and throw a block for his quarterback. He can hurt a team in ways stats don’t always show.
Key 3: Give Beast Mode His Skittles
Dallas may have lost the game, but their approach on how to beat the Packers was certainly correct. Dallas gave Green Bay a healthy dose of DeMarco Murray throughout the game as the Cowboys running back ran 25 times for 123 yards and one touchdown. The one knock on Murray’s game is that on one of his carries he fumbled the ball and was responsible for Dallas’ sole turnover of the game. When a team loses by one score, those types of plays are even more important.
Still, giving Marshawn Lynch 20-25 carries for the game sounds like a good number. Against Carolina his numbers weren’t that impressive. He ran the ball 14 times for 59 yards and no touchdowns. The problem with the number of yards is that 25 of them came from one run, so it’s more like Lynch ran 13 times for 34 yards. That’s a number that definitely could use some improvement.
Kickoff for the NFC Championship game is scheduled for 12:05 pm PT from CenturyLink Field.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.