Good morning. I’m about to head over to Heinz Field. We’ve got perfect football weather here in Pittsburgh – It’s overcast with a little breeze, but no rain forecasted for today. Game-time temperature should be about 70 degrees.
Here’s five keys for the Hawks as they take on the Steelers this morning.
A fast start – As a heavy underdog on the road playing a grumpy Steelers team looking to erase the memory of a lopsided loss in Baltimore last week, the Seahawks need to match Pittsburgh’s intensity early in the game to have any chance late for a victory. The chances of Seattle coming from behind like last week in San Francisco are slim.
Feed the Beast – The Ravens ran for 170 yards against this aging Pittsburgh defense last week, that is traditionally tough against the run. Was that a one-week glitch, or his this Steelers’ defense “old, slow and it’s over”, as Warren Sapp said earlier this week? I think we’ll find out early in this one, as Seattle likely will feed Marshawn Lynch a steady diet of zone stretch plays and see if they can get him going, similar to what Ray Rice did last week.
Find Mike Williams – With no Sidney Rice for a second straight week, it’s up to Mike Williams to make some plays on the perimeter and try and dictate coverage. Ike Taylor is one of the better corners in the league, but Williams should be able to get some work done against him and Bryan McFadden if he plays today. And if the Steelers play a lot of off coverage, look for some quick slants and stop routes to Williams for some easy throws for Tarvaris Jackson.Heat it up and get the ball – Although Seattle defense played well last week, they finished with no turnovers and no sacks against San Francisco. That can’t happen today is Seattle wants to win. The Seahawks’ defense needs to turn up the defensive pressure in order to create at least turnovers to make it easier for the offense to score. And they also need to do a good job of containing Ben Roethlisberger when he scrambles and not let him make explosive plays down the field.Play sound on special teams – After giving up two returns for touchdowns on special teams last week, Pittsburgh will be looking to exploit Seattle the same way. So the Seahawks need to be sound in this third phase of the game.
In my story today, Seattle players discuss overcoming the mystique of playing a tradition-rich team like Pittsburgh on the road.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune breaks down how the Hawks will have to deal with the time zone change.
Christian Caple of Seattlepi.com gives us five things to watch in today’s game.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes that this is a much different Seattle team that faces Pittsburgh, with only two players left from the Super Bowl XL team in Marcus Trufant and Leroy Hill. But Pittsburgh has plenty of players still left from that game.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks will have their hands full with the Pittsburgh defense.
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks could be headed for losing season, and Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have the tough job of managing fans’ expectations.
Dan Pompei of the National Football Post talks to Schneider about keeping a third quarterback on the roster. Fourteen team have only two quarterbacks on their roster according to Pompei. Seattle would have liked to keep only two quarterbacks, but were concerned about losing Josh Portis if they tried to waive and add him to the practice squad.
“It’s not ideal to keep three,” Schneider said. “I’m not in favor it unless you have a young guy you can’t risk losing. The trend clearly is to go with two. When you keep three, your special teams feel it. You probably have to lose a spot to a pure core teamer.”
Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review previews the game here, with the Steelers focused on getting explosive receiver Antonio Brown going.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that Steelers 36-year-old linebacker James Farrior could find himself sitting out more plays this season, as head coach Mike Tomlin chooses to play Larry Foote.