K.J. Wright will make his season debut against Sea Lions Golden Tate, Luke Willson and DeShawn Shead, and he’s got big plans for the reunion game.
“I’m going to mess Luke up — no, I’m just (kidding),” Wright said. “I do hope I cover Luke. I want to tackle Golden as well. I talked to Shead earlier this week and I told him I’ve got to exchange jerseys with him. So it feels good seeing those guys.”
This game should look very familiar to the Seahawks — not only because of the Sea Lion reunion but because the Hawks are in almost the same position they were in exactly six years ago when they went to Detroit.
This reunion is just the latest in a long string of personal and personnel links between the Hawks and Lions. Before John Schneider arrived and started making draft trades that helped create the Legion of Boom, the Lions had brought in ex-Hawks Julian Peterson, Nate Burleson, Maurice Morris and Will Heller.
Then Schneider made three trades with Detroit in 2010 alone, and Rob Sims and Lawrence Jackson joined the ranks of the Sea Lions. Schneider has made seven deals with Detroit overall, with some of those leading to the drafting of LOBers Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, plus Paul Richardson.
The Seahawks have done a lot more business with the Lions off the field than on it, but Russell Wilson and company have had three interesting games against them.
In 2012, Wilson’s rookie season, he led the Hawks to a late lead, but the young LOB let Matthew Stafford drive for the winning score in the final seconds of a 28-24 decision.
In 2015, Chancellor returned from his holdout in time to force a key fumble at the goal line in the final two minutes, helping preserve a 13-10 win in Tate’s first game against his former teammates — and Cliff Avril’s first game against his original team.
The clubs met again in the 2016 wild-card round, and the Hawks easily handled the Lions, 26-6.
This will be the first game in Detroit since that 2012 game, which was played six years ago to the day this one will be played. The Hawks lost to Sea Lions Jackson, Sims and Heller and future Seahawk Avril in that game, dropping to 4-3. But they lost only one more game the rest of the way that season (they scored 150 in a three-game stretch and missed the NFC title game when they gave up a late field goal to Atlanta).
As they prep for this game, they are in a pretty familiar spot — and once again facing some familiar players. If Wright and crew knock off the Sea Lions, they will be 4-3 and in decent position for a nice finishing run like they had in 2012.
The Lions’ trade for Damon Harrison has put sudden fear in some folks, as if he will single-handedly be able to shut down the Seahawks’ running game.
Even Pete Carroll seemed concerned: “I hope he gets there on Saturday and he drives to Detroit and takes some time getting there, because there’s not much you can do with that guy. He’s really a monster in there and the running game, yes, but he also causes problems in the pass game.”
Carroll said the Seahawks were interested in signing him, but he was out of their price range. “He came on our radar when he was at the Jets … but he had emerged too far too fast for us. We couldn’t get to him, and he wound up going to the Giants. We have a lot of respect for him.”
Don’t be so sure he is going to suddenly turn the Lions’ 30th-ranked run defense into a brick wall. The Hawks ran for 104 yards vs. Harrison and the Giants last season — without a good running game. It’s vastly better now, averaging 157 yards the past four games. The Giants were giving up 114 rushing yards per game even with Harrison.
This game won’t be easy, but the Hawks’ offensive line should be able to handle the Lions’ front.