Considering the crazy outcome of the regular-season game against Green Bay last September, this is an unusually interesting preseason game tonight between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Here are five things to watch tonight for the Seahawks:
1. The boobirds for Golden Tate. The Packers fans haven’t forgotten Tate’s controversial catch in the end zone on a last-play Hail Mary pass that won the game for Seattle last September. Green Bay fans, and many other people, believe M.D. Jennings had possession of the ball as he battled Tate for it when they fell to the turf. Adding to the controversy, a replacement official gave Tate the touchdown.
Tate has been in a good-hearted Twitter exchange all week with Green Bay fans. It will be interesting to see how the Lambeau crowd reacts if he makes a catch, and especially if Tate has a touchdown reception.
2. Penalties. The Seahawks had a whopping 20 penalties for 172 yards in the first two preseason games, including 12 for 107 yards last weekend against Denver.
Seattle has still managed to outscore its opponents 71-20 in those games, but the yellow flags are a concern to coach Pete Carroll.
“We’re trying to clean up some things,” Carroll said. “The penalty area is really a main focus for us. I’d like to see if we can do that. We’ve been incapable of proving it so far, but we’re really pushing hard to get that done. We want to take care of the football and we want to do the things we always do. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a preseason game or if it’s the last game of the year, we’re trying to play them all the same.”
Carroll also is seeking clarification on some penalty calls by the officials.
“We want to make sure that everyone understands what’s being called,” Carroll said. “We took a really in-depth look and are continuing to work with the officials about the penalties, just to understand what they are calling. There are some issues in the kicking game that we have found to be a little unclear.
“We’re not saying that they’re wrong; we’re just saying that we want to know why they are calling what they’re calling. That was the biggest focus. We can’t get that legitimate look out on the practice field when we’re not finishing plays. The issues that we’ve had have come after the play, and you can’t really deal with that stuff in practice. It’s going to take us a few weeks to get rid of these kinds of things.”
3. Marshawn Lynch. Seattle's standout running back hasn’t seen any significant action so far in the preseason. He has two carries for 1 yard in the first two games. Carroll said Lynch will get more carries Friday night, but wasn’t specific about how much Lynch would play. Three skill-position starters won’t play Friday -- receiver Sidney Rice, tight end Zach Miller and fullback Michael Robinson -- so Lynch and Russell Wilson will be the focus for as long as they play.
4. Tony McDaniel. It’s time to find out what the eight-year veteran can do at defensive tackle. McDaniel, acquired in the offseason as a free agent, missed the first two preseason games with a groin injury. He'll be able to make up for lost time tonight because rookie draft picks Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams are out with injuries. The Seahawks have liked what they’ve seen so far from both rookies, but McDaniel is the old pro who can win the starting job at the 3-technique tackle spot if he plays well.
5. Stephen Williams. The lanky wide receiver has been one of the pleasant surprises of the preseason. Williams has used his 6-foot-5 frame to outleap defenders and come up with some long receptions in the first two games, including touchdown grabs of 42 yards against San Diego and 38 yards against Denver, both from backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Some people at practice were joking that Jackson and Williams should enter the game as a duo.