RENTON – You remember when the Seahawks and the Steelers met in the Super Bowl?
When they were the best in the NFL? When they were just clobbering teams?
You remember. Yeah … good times.
Well, Sunday’s matchup isn’t anything like that.
The only real similarity is the sadistic happenstance that referee Bill Leavy reportedly will officiate Sunday’s Seahawks-Steelers game in Pittsburgh.
We would be reluctant to suggest in print to Seahawks fans that Leavy owes you one – a super large one, at that.
Except that he kind of brought it up. He’s admitted that Feb. 5, 2006, was not his finest hour, and he “kicked” some calls in Pittsburgh’s 21-10 Super Bowl XL win over Seattle.
So, if Tarvaris Jackson wants to make a low block or Mike Williams wants to shove off in the end zone, or a tackle is tempted to hold … it might be worth giving it a try.
Of greater likelihood, when the Seahawks take the field in Pittsburgh on Sunday, is the possibility that the Steelers are as fired up as if it truly were a Super Bowl matchup rather than an early season meeting between a pair of 0-1 clubs.
The Baltimore Ravens did the Seahawks no favors this past Sunday, abusing the rival Steelers 35-7, forcing seven turnovers and rushing for 170 yards.
These two teams are like schoolyard bullies squaring off, always challenging each other to prove which is tougher.
“A terrible loss,” Steelers linebacker James Harrison said. “To get beat like a dog …”
The wound will be festered to the point of sepsis by the time the Seahawks get there.
“We have a huge matchup coming up, going to the East Coast to play Pittsburgh,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at his Monday afternoon press conference. “We have tremendous respect for their program, obviously, for many years, and all their accomplishments.”
Like six World Championships … the sort of history that makes it hard to swallow that 35-7 loss.
“We also know they had a very difficult first game and they’re coming home to try to get right,” Carroll said. “They have very high expectations for this season and so do we, so we’ll go match it up and put it together and see if we can get better and play a better football game.”
The Seahawks left themselves considerable room for improvement in a 33-17 season-opening loss at San Francisco this past Sunday. The Seahawks started that game with no offense and ended with no special teams.
Had Leavy been there to “kick” any calls at San Francisco, they would have been returned for touchdowns by 49er Ted Ginn Jr., who scored twice in a span of 59 seconds late in the game to doom the Seahawks.
Carroll said he stressed the team’s second-half offensive awakening when he talked to the team. And the defense was effective and physical throughout.
“We have a number of things to work on and get right,” he said. “We’ll continue to grow and improve, and hopefully we’ll learn a lot from this game and get better. It was frustrating. We did make a comeback, but also there were some encouraging signs that we can build on and that’s what we intend to do.”
He also liked that quarterback Jackson was ambulatory and still in possession of his faculties after being sacked five times and hit eight times.
“He’s really tough, he can hang in there and he doesn’t let it bother him. Even if he’s got guys right in his mug he can still deliver the football and make plays,” Carroll said. “ … He’s as tough as he can be. There were a lot of guys who might not finish that game. He took some serious hits and never even flinched.”
Oh, he flinched. But he stayed in there and got more productive as the game went on.
“He’s really unflappable on the field,” Carroll said, before adding a point that is ominous as they head into Pittsburgh against an angry group of Steelers.
“(Toughness) is a very strong characteristic we’re going to need (from Jackson) for a while.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org