Sports Magazine

Game 11: Steelers at Seahawks

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Game day from Century Link Field in Seattle, WA.
The Steelers have outscored the Seahawks, 45-0, in the previous two meetings. Today marks Pittsburgh's first visit to Seattle since 2003, when the Seahawks triumphed, 23-16.
Countdown to Kickoff:
"Countdown to kickoff: Steelers at Seahawks
Posted Nov 28, 2015
Week 12 has Pittsburgh traveling west to take on the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)
Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015
CenturyLink Field
4:25 p.m.
VIEW GALLERY | 17 Photos
PHOTOS: Steelers/Seahawks Statistical Leaders
SERIES HISTORY: 8-8 (Steelers lead, 1-0, postseason).
LAST MEETING: Steelers 24, Seahawks 0, Sept. 18, 2011, Heinz Field: The Steelers allowed just 164 total net yards (133 passing, 31 rushing) and registered five sacks while posting their first shutout since 2008 and their second consecutive blanking of Seattle at Heinz (2007). WR Mike Wallace tied his career high with eight catches for 126 yards (the second-highest figure in Wallace’s career) and a touchdown and surpassed 100 yards receiving for the fifth consecutive regular-season game. The Steelers held the ball for 38:44.
LAST TIME OUT: The Seahawks outgained the 49ers 508-306 and won, 29-13, at home. The Steelers beat Cleveland, 30-9, on Nov. 15 at Heinz prior to last weekend’s bye.
WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL: They’ll attempt to run it and work the play-action game after establishing the run and, if all else fails, rely on QB Russell Wilson’s ingenuity.
Seattle has rushed for over 100 yards as a team in an NFL-best 21 consecutive games and had no trouble doing so without RB Marshawn Lynch against San Francisco. Replacement RB Thomas Rawls (undrafted rookie, Central Michigan) ran for 209 against the 49ers and finished with 255 yards from scrimmage and a pair of TDs (one rushing, one receiving). At 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Rawls can run through would-be tacklers or make them miss. Wilson contributes significantly to the running game when he isn’t throwing it (385 yards and a 5.3 average), especially after escaping pressure.
TE Jimmy Graham has been a contributor (44 catches, 530 yards, two TDs) but hasn’t been featured in the passing game. Doug Baldwin is the most relied upon WR (44-539-3), especially when Wilson is scrambling. Wilson has been sacked 35 times this season and 121 times over the past three seasons, but some of that is interpreted as the cost of doing business for a team as determined to get the ball down the field as the Seahawks are on occasion. WR Tyler Lockett (15.3 yards per catch on 25 receptions) is the vertical threat.
WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL: They’ll need to establish the run before worrying about how to deal with the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” back end. Seattle is No. 2 in total defense, No. 10 in rushing defense, No. 2 in passing defense and No. 7 in scoring defense and the Seahawks are all of those things for a reason.
In passing situations the Seahawks like to unleash DE Michael Bennett, DE Cliff Avril (those two have combined for 13 sacks and 34 quarterback hits), DT Jordan Hill and OLB Bruce Irvin as a four-man pass rush. With Irvin out last Sunday against San Francisco (knee), Seattle turned to OLB Mike Morgan in the base defense and either DE Cassius Marsh or rookie DE Frank Clark in passing situations. The Seahawks count on their four-man pressures getting home and rarely blitz.
The secondary normally relies on Cover 2 or Cover 3 with FS Earl Thomas operating as the centerfielder in either instance. Cover 3 frees CB Richard Sherman up to find the football more often, and he’s good at that. Sherman leads the NFL in interceptions (24) and passes defensed (2011). He may or may not cover the other team’s best receiver but he’ll be around the ball. And SS Kam Chancellor will play like a linebacker no matter where he’s stationed.
SPECIAL-TEAMS HEADLINERS: Seattle K Steven Hauschka, 21-for-22 on field goals this season, is the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history (150-for-173, 86.7 percent). Lockett, a rookie third-round pick from Kansas State, has a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown. He also had one of each in the preseason.
THE X-FACTOR: The Steelers have five players who have played at CenturyLink (QB Mike Vick, CB William Gay, S Will Allen and RBs Jordan Todman and Isaiah Pead) and none of them have done so as Steelers. The Seahawks are 76-33 at home since moving to the NFC in 2002 and opponents have been flagged for 147 false starts in 85 games since 2005. This is a different venue. It’ll be packed with the self-proclaimed loudest fans in the NFL. How will the Steelers handle the environment, especially the noise?
THEY SAID IT: “We’re a team on the rise. We’re starting to find our identity. It’s just fun around this time of the year. Some teams, they fold, and some teams turn it up a notch. I feel like we’re a team on the rise. We have play-makers all over the field. We’re really starting to come into our own.” _ Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert"
Mike Tomlin Q&A:
"Tomlin on traveling west, Jacoby, Vick
Posted 4 hours ago
Bob Labriola
Coach Mike Tomlin addressed a variety of issues leading up to the game vs. the Seahawks.
Q. You’ve always been big on family during your time as the Steelers coach, maybe best illustrated by having invited players’ families to the Saturday practice on the day before Super Bowl XLV, kids running around the field after it was over, took a big Steelers family photo. How do you balance your players’ family lives with work during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays every year?
A. There’s work that has to get done, and that work is going to get done. We’re going to try to do it in the most timely and sensible manner in relation to the things that are going on in the guys’ lives. Sometimes I provide some options for them. Some Christmases, for example, we’ll work early so they’re home in time for dinner. Sometimes a guy has the desire to be at home in the morning with his kids when they open presents, and then we work later. I don’t care with what means we skin it, but it’s going to get skinned. There’s work that has to be done.
We did the same thing this week with Thanksgiving. We worked early, we took the frills out of our day, we got our work done, and everyone was home comfortably in time for dinner to enjoy that part of the day with their families.
Q. In terms of an NFL regular season, how is Thanksgiving a significant mile-marker?
A. I don’t know that it is, for me. I just try to live singularly, one week at a time in terms of the challenges. I know a lot of people look at Thanksgiving as a benchmark. Some people divide it into quarters and view quarters of a season as a benchmark – working the games in sets of four. The reality is we get 16 opportunities to state a case for ourselves, and I try to take each one of them as important as the next. That way I don’t de-value the September ones, or place too much value on the December ones. There were times when you wished you had a September game back. Those games are just as important.
I try to live that philosophy in the words that I choose and how I think about the significance of each and every opportunity.
Q. What is it that’s uniquely challenging about traveling three time zones to play a football game?
A. Just the time. The time spent. Your bodies are your bodies, and you’re on airplanes and so forth. We’re in bent-knee position for five-some hours, and there’s a price to pay for that. But not anything we’ll acknowledge that would be a significant contribution to the outcome of the game. It’s the hazards of the business. Everyone has eight home games and eight road games. Sometimes the trips are short, and you appreciate those. Sometimes the trips aren’t short, and you deal with those. But we won’t be thinking about that when we come out of that tunnel and get ready to play on Sunday.
Q. What does it say about that task that after all these years, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus about the best approach? Some teams will go early. Some teams go as late as possible. Some teams will stay somewhere close to the game so there’s not as much travel back-and-forth.
A. There never will be. Some coaches are fundamentalists. Some coaches are schemers. Some coaches are offensive-minded. Some coaches are defensive-minded. That’s the thing that makes the game continually interesting. For me, I’ve always been of the mentality that if I’m traveling east to west, I don’t make a big deal out of it; if I’m traveling west to east it’s probably more of a deal. Thankfully, I haven’t done a lot of west to east traveling in my life.
Q. How did you come to develop your travel procedure on such trips?
A. I just look at it as: I’m gaining time moving west, and I’m losing time moving east. So if I’m losing time, I better respect it.
Q. You said at your news conference that Jacoby Jones will return punts today. What went into that decision? What was Antonio Brown’s reaction?
A. That decision was made when we acquired him. He’s a talented guy. His resume is his resume. He needs no endorsement from me. I acknowledge that the start hasn’t been as fluid as he would like or we would like, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to start blinking. We’re going to run him out there. We’re going to do a great job of blocking and pressuring the punts, and then let him do what he’s been doing in the National Football League for a long period of time at a high level.
Q. Not that it would have mattered, but what was Antonio Browns reaction to the decision?
A. What was the phase you used before you asked that question? (Laughs) Antonio has an opinion. (More laughter)
Q. It seems as though Mike Vick is now your No. 3 quarterback, which means he will be inactive most weeks. Do you still see that as a worthwhile signing?
A. Oh, absolutely. He got us out of a few stadiums. And San Diego specifically. I think about the play he made on that final drive with his legs when he ran down the middle of the field and provided us with a significant chunk of yardage. Like I mentioned earlier, each one of these 16 opportunities is significant, and you don’t know which one is going to be the tipping point as you pursue your dreams during the course of a season. But that guy got us out of the stadium that day, and his contributions are more than that instance, but that’s just one that’s very vivid and very tangible that you can look to that makes me say that.
Q. During the bye week when assistant coaches were available to the media, Joey Porter was talking about the rotation system with the outside linebackers and how, for example, James Harrison might wave off a replacement when he’s sent in. Is that a big deal to you?
A. I don’t micromanage those kinds of things. What’s important is that there are certain moments where the personnel is very critical, and in those moments, everyone understands it and there is no negotiation. There are some other moments where there is some latitude, and that’s what Joey was talking about in that regard.
Q. When you were a defensive backs coach, what was your opinion on having a cornerback shadow a receiver?
A. I was less concerned about that matchup and more concerned about the one you’re not talking about. Because in order to match up a top-flight cornerback on a top-flight receiver and switch sides of the field, you also have to understand the unintended consequences on the guy playing opposite him. If he’s a guy who’s primary a right cornerback, and now you have him working at left cornerback, he’s out of his comfort zone. Or if that matchup creates an issue for a guy who’s 5-foot-9 and now he’s going against a receiver who’s 6-5 and he’s in that mismatch all day instead of only half the time … I don’t think enough is thought about in terms of the unintended consequences of the other matchup. I’ve always been slow to have that (matchup) mentality.
Q. How does it limit a defense? Do you have to play more man coverage, just by definition?
A. You have the latitude to make it an issue or minimize the issue, but for me specifically, we’ve done it some in the past with Ike Taylor. And Ike always was a guy who wanted to do it, but it came down to a conversation where, “Hey, Ike, we may or may not do it, and it can have nothing to do with you. It may have something to do with Deshea Townsend vs. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, for example.” That’s just an element of it. Deshea vs. Chris Henry. Or Bryant McFadden vs. Chris Henry. It wasn’t always about Ike Taylor vs. Chad Johnson.
Q. From the defensive side of that decision, do you make it more because of your guy or more because of their guy?
A. Again, sometimes it’s because of their guy. Sometimes it’s because it’s of our guy. And sometimes it’s just to send a message. Sometimes you admit that schematically speaking, or significance speaking it may mean little on the outcome of the game, other than the fact that we’re sending a message.
Q. What kind of message would you be sending?
A. That we fight fire with fire. If they have somebody we perceive as a unique animal, and we have somebody we perceive as a unique animal, we’ll let those two guys go head-to-head.
Q. That seems to be the case today, with the respective unique animals being Richard Sherman and Antonio Brown. Do you hope the Seahawks try to match-up Sherman with Antonio Brown?
A. When I’m on the other side of it as the offensive coach, and I put my offensive hat on, I don’t care what you do.
Q. With your offensive hat on in that situation, do you want to attack that matchup just to send a message that you won’t be deterred or intimidated?
A. We’re going to play football on the offensive side. You can’t get caught up in those things. You have no control over how the defense chooses to defend you or who they choose to defend you with. We have to stay singularly focused on our approach, our plan, our plays, the execution of them. It’s less of an issue for us in terms of the thought process of how we go about our business.
Q. You think your quarterback shares that same non-committal view of not attacking an area an opponent is specifically trying to defend? Might he be a little too much of a competitor for that?
A. I would imagine our quarterback, in that circumstance, is thinking, who’s covering Martavis Bryant?
Q. You mentioned during your news conference that the Steelers had to rush smart against Russell Wilson because he can exploit vertical lanes if they open up. Does that make the pocket-collapsing up-the-middle pressure most important?
A. No, that just means we can’t end up with a bunch of guys behind the quarterback. That’s the reality of it. We have to be cognizant of our rush lanes. We have to be re-trace conscious when we get to the depth of the quarterback, be capable and ready to re-trace our steps and stick our foot in the ground and work back toward the line of scrimmage to close vertical holes. It means we have to be ready to use our hands to come off blocks as he tries to find the vertical escape lanes. That’s what I’m talking about."
10 Things to Watch for Against the Seahawks:
"10 thing to watch for at the Seahawks
Posted 1 hour ago
By Mike Prisuta
Here are a few things to keep an eye on as the Steelers head west to face the Seattle Seahawks.
What to keep an eye on in regular-season game No. 11 against the Seahawks:
VIEW GALLERY | 17 Photos
PHOTOS: Steelers/Seahawks Statistical Leaders
POISE IN THE NOISE: Seahawks’ opponents have been flagged for an NFL-high 147 false-start penalties in Seattle since 2005 (1.73 per game over 85 games). One or two of those at the wrong time can prove problematic.
NEVER OUT OF IT: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has 16 fourth-quarter/overtime comebacks in 66 career games since 2012. That ties Tony Romo of Dallas for the most in the NFL in that span.
NEVER BEEN DONE: Wilson has never been beaten at home by an AFC team (6-0). He has 11 touchdown passes, two interceptions and a passer rating of 106.3 in his first six games against AFC opponents at home.
STRONG FINISHERS: The Seahawks have an NFL-best 23-5 record in November/December games since 2012 (2-1 this season).
HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The Steelers are a win away from sweeping the NFC West Division after already having beaten San Francisco, St. Louis and Arizona.
MILESTONE TD: QB Ben Roethlisberger’s next TD pass will move him past former Seahawks QB Dave Krieg (261) and into sole possession of 14th place on the NFL’s all-time list.
CONFERENCE CALL: Mike Tomlin is 24-11 all-time against the NFC in the regular season, including 3-0 this season. Roethlisberger is 30-12, including 2-0 this season.
SETTING THE PACE: The Steelers lead the NFL in yards per rushing play (4.9) and are second in the league in yards per play (6.3).
FRESHMAN SENSATION: K Chris Boswell has connected on 14 of his first 15 field goal attempts and his success rate of 93.3 percent is the highest in Steelers’ history for a rookie/first-year kicker with at least 10 attempts (Jeff Reed went 17-for-19, 89.5 percent, in 2002).
THE ONE AND ONLY: Seattle WR Tyler Lockett is the only player in the NFL with a receiving TD (three), a punt-return TD (one) and a kickoff-return TD (one) this season."

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