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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks know Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers stands out as master at tricking linemen

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2016, file photo, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers need to beat the Seahawks on Sunday to keep pace with first-place Detroit in the NFC North. (Jeffrey Phelps / Associated Press)
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2016, file photo, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers need to beat the Seahawks on Sunday to keep pace with first-place Detroit in the NFC North. (Jeffrey Phelps / Associated Press)
By Gregg Bell Tacoma News Tribune

GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s not so much what the Seahawks will see from Aaron Rodgers that will determine if they clinch their division’s championship in Week 14.

It’s what they’ll hear.

The key to Sunday’s game between Seattle (8-3-1) and Green Bay (6-6) here at wintry Lambeau Field may be the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player’s voice.

Rodgers is renowned inside the league for his hard, “double” snap counts. He shouts loud, fake signal calls at defensive linemen to get them to jump offside before the snap. When they do he continues what amounts to a free play, knowing the defense is about to get penalized no matter what happens on the rest of the down.

There is about as much a chance a Seahawk jumps offside and gives Rodgers a free shot down the field as what everyone in Seattle talked all this past week: Forecasts are calling for snow accumulating anywhere from 1-5 inches here during the afternoon.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, in assessing quarterbacks and hard counts, has said he thinks Rodgers is “probably the best at it.”

Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel sees no “probably” about it.

“Aaron Rodgers is the best at it,” said McDaniel, an 11-year veteran – and one of many past victims of the Packer’s ploy. “There is some stat out there that he’s gotten the most guys offside because of his hard count.”

Why, yes there is. Last season Rodgers co-led the league drawing 17 offside penalties. This year it’s been 12 such flags in 12 games.

“It’s aggressive. It’s tricky. And he stays consistent throughout the ball game,” McDaniel said. “Eventually, someone will break during the game. He’s even get some of his offensive linemen offside, he does it so well.

“It could be any, given time.”

Rodgers does it in obvious situations, such as third and less than 5 when an offside penalty would give Green Bay a gift first down. He’s also done it against Seattle on second-and-17, first-and-15 … whenever.

That’s because it’s not just the 5 free yards Rodgers gets his offense with the flags. It’s the free plays.

If his linemen don’t move when a defender enters the neutral zone, that allows the play to continue while the defender that jumped offside jumps back to his side of the line. Officials throw flags, but it is a live-ball foul if the defender is not running unabated to Rodgers. (So there’s the anecdote: if you jump offside, keep going in a beeline to the quarterback to negate the free play).

When Rodgers, a 12-year veteran who learned from Brett Favre the game’s edges, continues on offside plays he takes the snap for that free play. Emboldened, he often chucks the ball downfield.

It’s no risk, all reward. If his pass is intercepted on such a play, the offside penalty from the beginning of the down will wipe out the turnover. If it’s caught – voila! – penalty declined, big gain or touchdown accepted by the grinning Packers.

“Aaron Rodgers makes a living off of free plays,” Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said. “He’s one of the most adept at it probably in league history, drawing people off sides and getting deep penalties on people, pass interference.”

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