SEATTLE -- It wasn't a must win game for the Seahawks, but if Seattle hopes to find its way back to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus the game Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers was a probably should win affair.
After falling into an early 14-3 hole after an early fumble and defensive error, the Seahawks rallied and came up with the key go-ahead drive they need to get a 27-24 win over the Packers.
The victory moves Seattle back to .500 for the season at 5-5 and keeps them right in the thick of the playoff race ahead of a 10-day break before their next game against the Carolina Panthers. They also picked up a victory in a one-score game for just the second time in seven games this season.
The Seahawks rushed for 173 yards as the ground game continues to serve as the driving force of the offense. Russell Wilson made mistakes at times but was near perfect when it mattered most down the stretch.
Seattle's defense also manged five sacks of Aaron Rodgers that proved critical in getting the Packers offense off the field often enough to get the win.
Here are the takeaways from the Seahawks' 27-24 win over the Packers:
1. Russell Wilson came up big when it mattered most.
It was far from a perfect game for Wilson on Thursday night.
Wilson completely airmailed a throw to a wide open Doug Baldwin in the end zone. He woefully underthrew Tyler Lockett as he got behind the entire Packers secondary for a possible touchdown only to be bailed out by a pass interference penalty on Green Bay.
He caught a pass he had thrown that was deflected into the air for what amounted to an 11-yard loss instead of just knocking the ball into the ground.
But Wilson made a critical third down throw to Tyler Lockett, hit Lockett again for a big gain into the Green Bay red zone and zipped a pass to tight end Ed Dickson before the Packers could get out of their -pre-snap disguise for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Packers were in a blitz look and linebacker Blake Martinez attempted to retreat to cover Dickson at the snap of the ball. He couldn't get there in time as Wilson's throw was right on the money for a 15-yard touchdown.
Dickson said his route could either go across the field or vertical depending on the look he got at the line of scrimmage.
"The void was vertical so I took off vertical and Russ put a good ball right there and I got a chance to score," Dickson said.
Wilson completed just 3 of 8 passes in the first quarter for 12 yards. It was another slow start after passing for just 39 yards in the first half and 61 yards through three quarters a week ago against the Los Angeles Rams. However, the passing game picked up in the second quarter as Wilson began to make throws more consistently.
He finished the game with 225 yards passing and two touchdowns, completing 21 of 31 passes on the night with three sacks and no interceptions. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter on Thursday night.
"Russ didn't hit some stuff early on and then came back and played a fantastic game by the time it was over," head coach Pete Carroll said. "Hit some great balls, great play-actions, great play calls by Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer) to give us some space and get those guys open. So that all worked together."
2. Mike Davis' block was the hidden play of the game.
Speaking of that third-and-3 completion to Lockett, it wouldn't have happened if not for Mike Davis.
Davis was in the game as the team's third down back due to his aptitude in pass protection. With a safety, Josh Jones, bringing pressure off left tackle, Davis had to pick up the rusher to give Wilson the time he needed to complete the pass to Lockett.
Davis is able to keep Jones in front of him for over three seconds as Wilson waits for Lockett's route to come free across the middle of the field.
If that conversion isn't made, the Seahawks are still down 24-20 with seven minutes remaining and a punt upcoming to an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. There was a very real possibility the Packers could have added more points to increase their lead and force Seattle to scramble in a late rally like the last two weeks against the Rams and Chargers.
Instead, Davis' block allowed the big conversion to happened that allowed the drive to end in a go-ahead touchdown.
3. Doug Baldwin gets first TD of his season, starting to look like he's back to old self.
That's how Doug Baldwin has characterized his 2018 season so far due to a pair of knee injuries and an elbow injury that have left him battered, bruised and feeling far from his normal self.
While it's true that no one is 100 percent in the NFL once the season gets under way, Baldwin has been playing at far less than he's used to.
"Tearing my MCL (right knee), tearing my patella tendon (left knee?), tearing my UCL (right elbow), I've never had this many injuries before," Baldwin said. "It's been a journey that's for sure."
Baldwin caught his first touchdown pass of the season on a 6-yard pass from Wilson in the second quarter. It was fitting that the first touchdown connection of the season between the two came against a Cover Zero call from the Packers, which left Baldwin in pure man-to-man coverage against Josh Jackson without any help. Baldwin has feasted against Cover Zero for much of his career and again maximized the chance on Thursday night, beating Jackson on a corner route from the left slot to pull Seattle back to within 14-10.
Baldwin also ran a triple move, out-up-out, against Packers rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander for 16 yards late in the third quarter.
While he still finished with just seven catches for 52 yards, Baldwin looked right once again. It's been slowly moving in that direction as the season has progressed, but he admitted he's feeling the best he has all season.
"I'm still managing it, but it's the best I've felt in the four months I've been dealing with it," he said.
"It's very encouraging because we have a lot of games ahead of us and a potential opportunity to get back in the hunt for the playoff run and that's all you can ask for is an opportunity to go to the big dance. I'm glad that I'm get healthy to the point where I can contribute to our team in a major way."
4. Weakside linebacker spot is a problem with K.J. Wright banged up.
With K.J. Wright out Thursday night due to a knee injury, the Seahawks started Barkevious Mingo at weakside linebacker.
After a missed coverage on a pass to tight end Jimmy Graham and a quick touchdown run from Aaron Jones, the Seahawks made a chance and put Austin Calitro in at the weakside spot. Calitro would then give up a 24-yard touchdown to Jones through the air as the Packers running back beat him in man coverage for the score.
Seattle made yet another chance, going to a dime defensive look on several third downs with Shalom Luani replacing the second linebacker on the field as the team desperately attempted to find an amenable fix for the position.
With Wright ailing, it was unclear if any of their options held up well on Thursday night.
Mychal Kendricks is still unable to return from suspension for another three games as he serves an eight-game ban for a guilty plea to insider trading chargers. Wright has played just three games all season due to continued issues with his knee, which was operated on during the latter stages of the preseason.
It's a spot that continues to be in flux in the meantime and the Seahawks will have 10 days until they play Carolina to see if Wright can return to full strength. If not, they may need to devise yet another option for the position moving forward.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 15: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs out front to block Ibraheim Campbell #39 of the Green Bay Packers for Mike Davis #27 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 15, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)