Earl Thomas made a mess of punt returns, fumbling one that turned into a touchdown for Green Bay and raising further questions about the decision to put the All-Pro safety back there.
Kam Chancellor hit hard all night and made 11 tackles, but he also whiffed more than usual.
Richard Sherman was annoyed that the Packers refused to throw to his side of the field the entire game, opening up once again questions about whether Sherman should be allowed to shadow a team’s best receiver.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Jordy Nelson instead picked on Byron Maxwell, who gave up a bunch of completions to the duo but also picked off a pass.
Of course, none of those mostly minor issues was as big as the loss of nickel cornerback Jeremy Lane, who aggravated his groin injury and is “going to be down for a while,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters.
Carroll would not offer a specific time frame, adding, “I don’t know what they’re going to actually do yet.”
The Hawks have a more definite time period for No. 4 corner Tharold Simon, who underwent knee surgery to fix cartilage this week and is expected to miss about four weeks, according to Carroll.
That injury news means the Hawks will be looking for another cornerback to help Marcus Burley, the recent trade acquisition who was forced into action in the second half against the Packers.
Carroll said Burley, an undrafted free agent in 2013 acquired for a sixth-round pick from Indianapolis, played well.
“He’s looked really solid in practice, and we really like the kid coming in,” Carroll said. “He did a fantastic job of being ready to play in that game down the stretch.”
Carroll said Burley will step in for Lane because “we have no other alternatives we can think of at this point.”
The Hawks do have alternatives at punt returner, but Carroll said Thomas will remain the main man there even though he showed poor instincts Thursday by not calling for fair catches in traffic on his first two punts — he fumbled the second one.
“It’s his first time out,” Carroll said, “and we have not had a lot of catches and we do not have a lot of background in live situations. So we’ll just grow, and he’ll get way better at it.”
Speaking of live situations, Carroll said Chancellor was overaggressive because he didn’t get much action in the preseason. It explains why Chancellor missed three tackles — a third the number he missed in 19 games last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
“Kam missed a couple of tackles by trying to knock guys out,” Carroll said. “He went after some hits really aggressively, like he was dying to do. He hasn’t had that many shots here in this preseason. He’ll tackle a little better, but he was all over the field. He had some significant plays and really sent the message of how we want to play and the style.”
Maxwell did not miss any tackles, but — with the Packers staying away from the other side of the field — he did give up nine completions in 11 passes, almost all of them to Nelson. Rodgers completed three straight passes against Maxwell in the first quarter, for 30 yards, as the Packers took a 7-3 lead.
Of course, when you pick on a guy that much, he is bound to make you pay for it. Former teammate Brandon Browner, now with the New England Patriots, apparently was watching the game, and he tweeted a prediction (edited): “They’re going to keep trying B Max, and he’s going to pick one off.”
Maxwell did, intercepting a pass that was slightly overthrown by Rodgers and tipped by Nelson in the third quarter. The pick set up a field goal that put Seattle ahead 20-10.
It was the fifth interception in six starts for Maxwell, who more and more is getting the lion’s share of passes thrown his way as teams steer clear of Sherman.
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett reportedly cracked: “All they’re doing is driving Maxwell’s price up (in free agency next year).”
Carroll was unconcerned about the number of completions against Maxwell — after all, Rodgers averaged just 4.9 yards per pass.
“He’s really got an even-keel mentality that’s going to really help him throughout his career,” Carroll said of the 2011 sixth-round pick. “He’s excited, but yet he’s very poised. He’s doing a good job, and I don’t see anything changing, now that he’s looking very consistent.”
The Hawks will need Maxwell to be steady if teams are going to take away Sherman and play with half the field.
Sherman was unhappy that he was not more actively involved.
“This is an extraordinary competitor that wants to be in the middle of everything and it’s frustrating,” Carroll said. “He didn’t feel like he was an active part of it, and I’m telling him that he was. He did a really good job and it’s been interesting to watch. I don’t know if it will keep up.
“Maxi is holding up; that’s what so exciting,” Carroll said. “He’s playing great football. … I don’t know if that’s going to go away if we keep getting picks over there. That’s great production on his part. We’ll see what happens, and it’ll be interesting to watch it.”
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy denied cutting the field in half on purpose.
“I don’t think you ever make a conscious decision not to throw to one side of the field,” McCarthy told Green Bay reporters. “Frankly, it was more of a decision to put Jordy on the left and see if he would come over and play him. They played their defense and obviously they did a heck of a job. I’m sure they feel good about where they are today.”
Carroll agreed, saying there is no reason to change what they are doing. Sherman will remain on the left side, where he functions at his highest and is most comfortable.
“Yeah he plays on the left side and they know that,” Carroll said. “That’s worked out real well for us over the years; we haven’t flipped much at all. It’s a choice that we make because we believe in the guy’s technique.”
Carroll said he will always consider flipping his corners on a case-by-case basis.
“That may come up during the season; it just depends,” he said. “We feel really good about the way our guys play.
“The routes that they caught on Byron Maxwell were routes that you can catch on anybody — really nicely timed, underneath routes and that can happen. There’s no issue we have at this point and no reason to do anything differently than what we do. But there may come a time. I was just really proud of how Maxy (Byron Maxwell) played. He did a fine job and got a pick when he had the opportunity. He really stood up to the test and that’s a really good statement. We’ll see how the teams (attack with the passing game) as we go down the road.”