seahawks

Super Bowl XL Rematch —  Seahawks Host Steelers

Winning Streak Needed For Hawks To Make Playoffs

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming to town.  You remember them.  They are the ones that benefited from a series of bad penalties thrown at the Seattle Seahawks during their first ever Super Bowl appearance.

Bill Leavy may well have come clean, years later, about the fact that he was wrong throwing those flags against the Seahawks and that he and his crew did effect the outcome of the game but the sting is still there.  Despite the unprecedented admission, the Seahawks never really got any revenge against the Steelers themselves.  It may be nearly 10 years later but they’ll have that chance this Sunday.

If they need anymore motivation, the Seahawks need to beat the Steelers if they hope to keep their wild card playoff spot hopes alive too.  Here’s what I’ll be watching for on Sunday.

Russell Wilson’s Play

Russell Wilson

Wilson looked better against the 49ers. He needs to build on that good performance.

Russell Wilson had his best game of the 2015 season last week against the 49ers.  You almost need to put an asterix on that one because of how bad the 49ers are this year.  Still, I think the performance was something Wilson can build on.

Wilson was far more accurate, completing 24/29 passes for three touchdowns and no picks.  Wilson also appeared much more settled in the pocket and reacted well to the pass rush and blitz with the right counter moves.

In fact, all three of Wilson’s touchdown passes came against the blitz.  That’s something he has done very rarely prior in 2015.

The Steelers are a much better team than the 49ers and they won’t be scared to test Wilson’s ability to react to pressure.  Wilson will need to have a similar performance against Pittsburgh if the Seahawks are to come out on top.

Thomas Rawls

No one can argue that the performance that Thomas Rawls had last week was anything less than astounding.  The rookie runner took the opportunity to sub for the injured Marshawn Lynch by the horns and never looked back as he rushed for over 200 yards.  The big question is for Rawls, can he do it again?

Rawls got a bit banged up himself last week and has been limited in practice this week.  He’s still expected to start and he’ll be tasked with going up against a much more solid run defense from the Steelers.

No one can ever question Rawls’s toughness after what he’s been able to do in his limited chances but I have to wonder about his durability.

Rawls looked every bit as phyiscal as Beastmode last week. Can he keep it up? Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Rawls looked every bit as phyiscal as Beastmode last week. Can he keep it up? Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

At 5’9” and just 215 pounds I have to wonder how many times a guy his size can get beat up the way Rawls did last week and keep performing at such a high level.  We’re already seeing what the cumulative effect on a runner much larger can be.  Lynch is going to be out for at least a month which means we will find out if Rawls can keep his motor going for several weeks in a row.

The Seattle D

The Seattle defense certainly looked stouter against the 49ers.  But again, it was against the 49ers, something that does not have the same meaning as it did a couple of years ago.  Even against the 49ers, there were times, last week, when I really questioned the Seahawks defense.

The final 49er drive of the first half was awful for the defense.  They went too soft and basically had written the rest of the half off which was a mistake.  The 49ers drove 92 yards for an easy touchdown as a result.  The Seahawks defense had allowed just 28 yards prior to that drive.

The Seahawks also continued to get burned by the 49ers against their tight ends.  If I’m an offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh, I’m throwing the ball down the seam to my tight end almost continually until the Seahawks prove to me they can stop that play.  In 2015, the Seahawks have yet to do it.

Playing soft and failing to cover a tight end week in and week out is something I put squarely on the shoulders of new defensive coordinator Kris Richard.  He simply has to get the coverages correct and in those situations, he has not done it.

No Seahawk has drawn more ire for lack of coverage on tight ends, or wide receivers for that matter, than Cary Williams.  Williams’s coverage lapses last week led to his benching in the second half of the game.  DeShawn Shead took over for Williams.

Who starts at corner and/or receives the most playing time opposite Richard Sherman this week will be an interesting thing to watch unfold.  Jeremy Lane is returning to the roster and Shead could also find himself out there again.  Let’s also not forget that Brandon Browner was once benched only to start again so don’t count out the idea that Williams could be back.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Prediction

The Seahawks need this win to keep the thought of a wild card spot alive.  The Steelers find themselves in a similar situation.  I think the game will be physical, ugly, and very low scoring as a result.

The Seahawks will beat the Steelers, 13-10 in a bruiser.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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