With a tremendous buildup to the start of the NFL’s regular season, every football fan outside of Miami and St. Louis goes into the season thinking their team has a great shot to make the playoffs. Which makes it all the more disappointing when your team begins the season with a loss.
After the Seattle Seahawks failed to come away with a touchdown on the final drive against the Arizona Cardinals last weekend, I think I’m just going to pretend that the season doesn’t truly start until our team plays a game in Seattle. I’ve already moved on from the disappointment and I’m looking forward to this season starting with a win this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
One big difference between the two teams coming into this game is the Cowboys beat the defending Super Bowl champions and have had much longer to prepare for their game in Seattle. The Seahawks on the other hand lost to a much less spectacular division rival.
It’s difficult to know in advance exactly how that difference will play out. Maybe it’s just me being hopeful (or maybe delusional is the right word), but I picture Tony Romo moping around for the last week thinking about his memories of his only trip to Seattle more than five years ago.
Seahawks fans all remember the images from the 2007 playoffs of Romo botching the snap of the extra point and getting tackled from behind just short of the goal line as he tried to run it in.
Since that time, both teams have each finished at the top of their respective divisions twice, but neither has been able to make the impact that fans have hoped. Romo has continued to face questions on whether or not he can win games when the stakes are highest.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson remains unproven. On a positive note, he had the second-highest quarterback rating of all rookies last week. But during his press conference this week, Wilson recognized there is plenty of room for improvement, especially in terms of scoring in the red zone.
“I think the biggest thing, first of all, is we gotta capitalize down there. No matter what the situation is, whether it’s a run or pass, we want to get seven and not three points,” said Wilson. “You want to be top in the league always in that situation.”
Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell said he expects Wilson to build upon what he learned last week and use it go get better.
“Every time he’s gone through an experience, whether it be good or whether it be an adverse situation, he’s always come out better for it. So that’s what we expect,” said Bevell.
Wilson struggled with the Cardinals' pass rush last week, and this weekend's game isn’t likely to be different. The Cowboys have considerable talent in their pass rush, most notably Pro Bowl outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
On the offensive line for the Seahawks, right guard John Moffitt is expected to start, which should provide some help after watching rookie J.R. Sweezy struggle a bit at times. Russell Okung also struggled against the Cardinals last week and left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury; he will be a game-time decision to start this week.
With the way the offense struggled last Sunday, coach Pete Carroll said the focus this week in practice was on communicating and making sure was on the same page.
“We played right all the way through this preseason, on a much different level than we did in this game, and that was really disappointing,” said Carroll. “We really expected that to carry over.”
One thing Seattle can hope to carry over from last week’s game is the play of the defense in the second half. Frankly, for the Seahawks to win this week, they’re going to need to be much more consistent on defense.
Outside of the one scoring drive in the second half, the Seattle defense played outstanding. If they can play as well for the whole 60 minutes as they did in the second half against Arizona, Romo and the Cowboys are going to have a rough time at CenturyLink.
Carroll is counting on the 12th man to provide some noise. In his Friday press conference, he said that he expects the crowd noise to help fuel the pass rush and get pressure on Romo.
Carroll was his usual optimistic self following Friday’s practice, and the notion of playing in front of the home crowd has the team fired up for Sunday.
“We’ve had a good solid week,” said Carroll. “We’re excited about playing at home. Everybody is looking forward to that.”
Wilson shared the sentiment.
“I can’t wait for the 12th man,” said Wilson. “I know it’s going to be a wild atmosphere…a lot enthusiasm in the stadium. That’s going to help us for sure.”
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.