this Jan. 10, 2015, file photo, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
Richard Sherman gestures during warmups before an NFL divisional
playoff football game against the Carolina Panthers in Seattle.
Whether by design or coincidence, Aaron Rodgers didn't throw in
cornerback Richard Sherman's direction in the teams' first
meeting this season.
GREEN BAY —
Seattle's Richard Sherman may have more to do this time against the
Green Bay Packers.
The Packers didn't
throw in the Pro Bowl cornerback's direction when the teams met in the
season opener in September, a 36-16 win for the Seahawks.
The game plan for the
rematch on Sunday in the NFC title game is still in flux. Still, the
offense seems better equipped this time around to face Sherman and
Seattle's swarming defense.
"I don't think
anybody's intimidated. I mean he's a great player," tight end
Andrew Quarless said this week. "Their secondary is definitely a
great secondary. You've got to give them their respect. But you know
the whole 'Legion of Boom' — we'll see."
More than four months
have passed since that meeting. It is plenty of time for teams to
shape their identities and fix flaws.
Seattle has only
improved defensively since September. But the Packers have had plenty
of time, too, to get their act together.
Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (89) celebrates a
touchdown with tight end Andrew Quarless (81) during the second
half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the
Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis.
Running back Eddie
Lacy's production has increased dramatically. Jordy Nelson and Randall
Cobb are one of the top receiving tandems in the league. The offensive
line is providing solid blocking.
And Aaron Rodgers has
proven that he's better than most healthy quarterbacks in the league,
even when slowed by a left calf injury.
"I don't think
it's that much different except their guys are coming through,"
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "They've grown with their season
and they're at the top of their game."
It wasn't quite that
case on Sept. 4 in Seattle.
Packers coach Mike
McCarthy watched video of the game on Monday morning. He liked some of
what he saw. He pointed to a few pivotal plays during which the
Packers could have played better.
"As far as not
throwing at Richard Sherman, we have great respect for their defense,
and they've earned that, and no different in Richard's individual
case," McCarthy said. "But we're a no-huddle offense and my
thought was, and I told Jordy in the game plan, 'Just line up on the
The thinking was that
Sherman would follow Nelson.
Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless (81) celebrates a
touchdown during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff
football game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015,
in Green Bay, Wis.
"OK. It didn't
happen ... How the game sorted out and things like that, and the ball
went where it went was just really how the game was played. There was
never a 'Don't throw right' in the game plan," McCarthy added.
"With that, I think we've played a lot differently since then, I
think we've improved in a number of different areas."
The Packers have
succeeded in the second half of the season in part by going after an
In a 26-21 win over
New England in November, Rodgers threw for 368 yards, including a
45-yard catch-and-run to Nelson. He had been covered by top cornerback
Darrelle Revis at the time.
In the regular-season
finale, Green Bay ran for 152 yards in a victory against Detroit, a
season-high by a Lions opponent.
In the NFC divisional
round win over Dallas, the Packers got three touchdown passes from
Rodgers — though none went to Nelson or Cobb. Instead, rookie
receiver Davante Adams, and tight ends Andrew Quarless and Richard
Rodgers, another rookie, had the scores in the big spots.
All three games were
played at Lambeau Field. Still, the success will help boost
"I mean the more
targets A-Rod has, the more I think it opens up the offense,"
Quarless said. It's about keeping them honest, really respecting
everything that we do, and respecting all the playmakers on the
Adams had the biggest
impact of the lesser-known Packers with seven catches for 117 yards.
The production was somewhat of a surprise given Adams had a combined
four catches in his previous four games combined.
As it turns out,
Adams doesn't mind talking trash either, a quality that might come in
handy if Sherman throws some verbal jabs.
"I like to egg
it on. If you want to talk, I feel like you can use that to your
advantage because guys get to talking and you make a play on them and
it kind of shuts them down," Adams said.