I do feel positive about this Seahawk defense. It seems to be able to cover with competency and dominate in the run game, and I successfully predicted that this healthy unit would limit the Niners to less than 100 total yards on the ground. They gained 85. That was this week.
Against our division rivals we had strong a performance out of rookie receiver Doug Baldwin who seemed to become one of Tarvaris Jackson's trusted targets in the game, running crisp routes and making one fantastic diving catch while also cutting through the San Francisco secondary for a long touchdown off of a short slant reception.
KJ Wright filled in admirably for David Hawthorne with a five-tackle performance (two solo). Aaron Curry and Red Bryant continued to be a pair of demons, proving to be an integral twosome in our run stopping plan.
Our young secondary also performed admirably against an average, but mismatch driven passing attack where both safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas piled up hits—10 and nine tackles respectively, all of Kam's being solo.
It was true that you almost couldn't see the ball carrier on screen without one or the other being nearby. Vernon Davis was held to five catches on six targets for under 50 yards, the trio of Morgan, Edwards and Crabtree being held to under 60 combined yards.
Our coverage schemes shined, as we were able to do what we did in pass defense without a legitimate pass rush (only one QB hit).
The Seattle offense as a whole might as well have been the football version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The first half being super conservative and downright ugly led by a high completion zero octane performance by Jackson
The second quarter saw the team actually move the ball with more aggressiveness and physicality and at a high tempo, something that must be established and sustained for this young team to keep opposing defenses off balance.
Again, all of that, this week.
Something else important happened this week, Baltimore romped the defending AFC Champion Steelers, 35-7. These very same Steelers are the opponents the Hawks are tasked with trying to defeat next week.
In Probability or Impossibility, I entertained the possibility that we could expose matchup problems to keep the game in our favor only if everything went right, as we saw against San Francisco.
We couldn't expose our beneficial mismatches in the passing game until the second half, a slow start on the road at Heinz would all but spell disaster for the Seahawks. While our team does stack up well against the Steelers in the trenches as far as Run Stopping and Pass Protection is concerned, I have to downgrade our possibility of a win from even the lowly 20 percent I gave us.
The Steelers now have something to prove, this physical team full of veteran savvy is used to making a meal out of the Seahawks, and visions of the Super Bowl XL farce still remain vivid in a lot of the 12th man's minds.
That day in Detroit served as a dividing point between the two powerhouse franchises. The Steelers would go on to become a league wide force for the next six years, while the Seahawks glory would slowly fade until reaching the near absolute bottom.
As of today, the Steelers do seem to be trending downward with age to key players while the Seahawks are once again a team on the rise, but this is not the season where we can out-physical our hated enemies when surrounded by Terrible Towels. I don't think the Steelers are going to give up possession seven times for two weeks in a row.
KEY EXPECTED SEAHAWKS CONTRIBUTORS
The first-year receiver created great separation against slow corners in San Francisco, he presents an interesting match up problem to Ike Taylor and the rest of the Steeler defense.
We didn't pay Miller a ton of money to get looked over, and four targets for two catches isn't nearly enough for our play making TE. Our offense will not be able to gain consistent yards if Jackson continues to leave him out as Tarvaris doesn't have the physical upside to treat Zach the way Michael Vick treats Brent Celek.
Kam Chancellor / Earl Thomas
This duo represents our safety tandem of the future, and they both have a nose for the ball. I expect them to play next week very similarly to how they did this week, patrol the field and teach opposing players that it is not okay to try and move up field on this defense. They both play smart, fast and hard and seem to mesh very well as a dynamic duo.
Coming off a solid five-tackle performance, look to see Curry and Red Bryant continue to work as an effective tandem in our run stopping game. Coach Ken Norton Jr seems to be refining Curry's raw talent as he nearly got off a sack on Alex Smith and provided both good pressure and coverage against the pass. He was in great position to prevent one big play to TE Vernon Davis, but it wasn't his fault that Alex Smith threw one of those rare passes where he had absolutely no play to make.
Coming off a loss to the Ravens, I foresee a motivated Steeler team stepping into Heinz and grinding Hawk blue facemasks into the turf on their way to a convincing win. Our running game is going to look worse than we can recall in recent memory, and Troy Polomalu will snuff out any sort of big play that could keep us hanging around.
In all likelihood we are going to leave Heinz Field 0-2, and coach Pete Carroll is going to have to rally his wavering troops before stepping in front of our friendly home atmosphere to take on the Cardinals, who looked much better than I had expected, albeit against a Carolina team that is still very much a work in progress.
This will likely be one of the lowest total run yardage games for a whole game this season.