There’s no question the Packers did improve over the final five weeks of the regular season and through their playoff opener. Progress was incremental, as the defense cut down on explosive plays and the offense found a little better footing on third down.
The Seahawks, who scored 23 points, were the Packers’ first opponent since the 49ers to score more than 20. Seattle’s three-point first half also marked the fifth time in the last six games the defense allowed three points or fewer over an entire half.
Offensively, after going 1-for-15 on third down (0-for-13 with Aaron Rodgers in the game) against the 49ers dropped Green Bay’s season conversion percentage to 33.6, the Packers converted on 40% (30-for-75) the rest of the regular season and then hit a season-best 64% (9-for-14) against the Seahawks.
So the Packers are a different team since then and plan to show it, regardless of the previous final score.
“I don’t see it as a hill to climb. We’re not down 29 going into the game,” receiver Allen Lazard said. “We know we played our worst game of the season that game, and they obviously are very good and they played a really good game.”
Lazard left the Seattle contest with an ankle injury and missed the second half. When running back Aaron Jones crashed into him, he tweaked the same ankle he hurt earlier this season, but he sounded optimistic about his chances to return for the NFC title game.
The Packers also hope to get Bryan Bulaga back after the veteran right tackle woke up ill on Sunday and missed the Seahawks game. Bulaga also sat out the bulk of the first 49ers game, leaving in the first quarter with a knee injury.
“We’re going to have a big challenge in front of us,” LaFleur said. “It’s something our guys are going to roll up their sleeves, prepare the right way and be ready to go.”