In what was meant to be a tight game between two closely matched teams the Seattle Seahawks dominated the visiting Green Bay Packers to begin their Superbowl defense with a 16-36 win.
The story of the game was a tale of two running backs. One was Marshawn Lynch, who delivered a great performance as the entire NFL got to watch him activate 'Beast Mode'. The other was Eddie Lacy, who failed to deliver the rushing punch his team needed.
Before the game the importance of Packers running back Eddie Lacey was highlighted. A powerful between the tackles runner it was thought that Lacy would have the rushing ability to break tackles. After all in the past the Seahawks had struggled against teams that have run the ball up the gut as they are a defense designed primarily to stop the pass.
In the end though, the Seahawks shut down Lacy and ground the Packers rushing attack to a halt. Lacy finished the game averaging a disappointing 2.8 yards per carry as he rushed for 34 yards off 12 attempts before his night was cut short by a concussion.
With the running game only yielding 80 yards all game the Packers were forced to rely on the throw. This of course played right into the strengths of the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom was able to close the game out restricting Rodgers to just the one touchdown throw.
Lynch activates Beast Mode
In contrast to the struggling Lacy the Seahawks number one running back Marshawn Lynch activated 'Beast Mode'.
With B.J. Raji out for season with a torn bicep the Packers were missing their run stuffing nose tackle, perhaps the one player who could have stopped Lynch and co. Instead nose tackle Letroy Guion stepped into the starting spot and his lack of strength against the run was painfully exposed.
Lynch hulk-smashed his way to 110 yards off 20 attempts at an average of 5.5 yards per carry picking up two touchdowns along the way.
A good day's work but the true scale of Lynch's path of destruction doesn't become apparent until you consider these statistics from ESPN that show that Lynch's performance was something truly special.
When rushing inside tackles Lynch had 15 total attempts which he took for one touchdown at an average of 6.3 yards per rush. The headline figure though is that Lynch ran for 2.5 yards after contact per rush.
That is a gobsmacking statistic. Essentially, the Packers couldn't bring Lynch down and he was breaking tackles for fun. The Packers need to remember what my old defensive co-ordinator used to say: “Go low. They can't run if they don't have knees.”
Lynch dominance sets up play-action
Lynch's effect on the game extended to far more than just the running game though. With the Packers defense always priming off the run, Russell Wilson was able to prosper with the play-action pass.
Wilson threw for 100 yards and two touchdowns on the play action going 6 for 9 on
attempts. In total, Wilson only threw for 191 yards so on the play action he made 100% of his touchdowns and just over 50% of his total yards. This would not have happened without Lynch being so dominant in the rushing game.
It is only one game into the season but the Seahawks have already made a statement of
intent for the season ahead and reminded everyone of how good they are.