Packers clinch playoff spot with mauling of Seahawks
By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers are going back to the playoffs, forcing four interceptions by Matt Hasselbeck to beat the Seattle Seahawks 48-10 on Sunday - then getting a big boost from the Carolina Panthers.
Sunday's victory, combined with the New York Giants' blowout loss to Carolina, put the Packers (10-5) back in the postseason after going 6-10 last season and getting off to a disappointing 4-4 start this year. The Panthers beat the Giants 41-9.</p>
It was Hasselbeck's second straight four-interception game in what is shaping up as a miserable season for the Seahawks (5-10), who have scored a total of 24 points in three straight losses. Hasselbeck also was picked off four times in a loss to Tampa Bay last week.
Several Packers players, including Charles Woodson and Greg Jennings, acknowledged fans during a lap around the stadium after the game.
With Seattle already trailing 24-3 at halftime, Hasselbeck threw his third interception on the first possession of the second half. Aaron Rodgers then converted a third-down pass to tight end Jermichael Finley, setting up Brandon Jackson's 6-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 31-3 lead.
Hasselbeck threw yet another interception on the Seahawks' next possession, and Rodgers completed another long pass to Finley to drive for a 4-yard touchdown run by Jackson - the third score of the game by the Packers' backup running back, who caught a 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
That was the end of the day for Rodgers, who was lifted in favor of backup Matt Flynn after completing 12 of 23 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan Grant added a pair of rushing touchdowns for Green Bay.
Seattle ran the ball well on its first possession, driving to the Green Bay 36-yard line. But on a third-and-1 play, Hasselbeck threw a head-scratching attempt at a screen pass directly to Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk.
Hawk ran the interception back to the Seattle 35, setting up a 13-yard touchdown from Rodgers to Jackson.
Later in the first quarter, Rodgers found Jennings for a 40-yard completion on third-and-4, then hit Jennings again for a 24-yard catch-and-run to set up Grant's 3-yard touchdown plunge to give the Packers a 14-0 lead.
Hasselbeck tried to keep the Seahawks in the game, throwing a 31-yard completion to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to drive Seattle into Green Bay territory. But later facing third-and-6 on the Green Bay 8, Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly tipped Hasselbeck's pass at the line of scrimmage and safety Atari Bigby came up with an interception in the end zone to end Seattle's scoring threat.
Seattle had another potential touchdown drive snuffed out when Jolly stuffed Julius Jones for a loss on third-and-2 on the Green Bay 7. The Seahawks settled for a field goal to cut the Packers' lead to 14-3 midway through the second quarter.
Rodgers scrambled for a first down on the Packers' next possession, then Grant burst through the middle of the line and cut back to his right, running 56 yards for a touchdown to give the Packers a 21-3 lead.
Struggling kicker Mason Crosby hit a 29-yard field goal just before halftime, then added a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter.