As the Seattle defense prepares to face a star quarterback for the third straight week, coach Pete Carroll says, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Having beaten Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and lost to Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, the Hawks now prepare to host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch. And Carroll cracked that they ought to add Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during the Seahawks’ Week 4 bye.
“It’s as hard as it can get,” Carroll said, not meaning that in a bad way. “It’s great for us. It’s going to help us during the course of the season. You can’t get any better challenges than these guys throwing the football. Aaron is phenomenal. And look what we just saw (with Rivers). And here comes Peyton.
“This is a great stretch for us. It’ll only help us,” Carroll said of playing the three top-rated active quarterbacks in the NFL. “We have to be so on the mark and so right in everything we’re doing to defend these guys.”
The Legion of Boom had trouble with the dehydrating temperatures in San Diego, and the group is taking some heat in the aftermath of a 30-21 loss to the Chargers and a two-game start that has been more bust than boom for the all-star unit.
Whether it was what happened on the field or what was (or was not) said off the field, Seattle’s top defenders did not respond very well in San Diego.
He’s a 34-year-old tight end who seems perpetually injured but who still finds ways to burn opponents.
On a scorching Sunday in San Diego, Antonio Gates caught fire — and three touchdown passes — against a Seattle defense that appeared ill-prepared for the heat and the physical pounding the Chargers’ offense put on it in San Diego’s 30-21 win.
The Seattle defense — so good at stopping tight ends last season — apparently forgot the formula in the San Diego heat. Last postseason alone, the Hawks held Jimmy Graham to one catch for eight yards, Vernon Davis to two receptions for 16 yards and Julius Thomas to four for 27.
But Gates, who was hindered by a hamstring injury all week, caught seven passes for 96 yards and scored against linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright and safety Kam Chancellor.
It was the first time Gates had caught three TD passes since a 28-20 win over Kansas City in 2005.
“He definitely capitalized on every opportunity he had,” Chancellor told reporters. “He showed why he is (a five-time) All-Pro tight end. He also has a good quarterback that looks to him and knows him and his timing. They have the quarterback/tight end bond. He is a crafty tight end.”
The Seahawks had three big needs entering the draft last May. They satisfied two in the second round, drafting wide receiver Paul Richardson 45th overall after trading out of the 32nd spot and selecting right tackle Justin Britt with the final pick.
The one position they did not address was LEO — their top pass-rushing spot. It’s not like they didn’t have a chance, though, and they will see one guy they could have had when they play Jerry Attaochu and the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
In 2012, the Seahawks added a dynamic player with unique traits and eventually found a way to take advantage of them: Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson lit up the league with the zone read option in the last few weeks of the season.
This year, the Hawks have another new player with stellar abilities, and they already know how to use him.
OK, so Percy Harvin isn’t really new — he was acquired last year — but a hip injury limited him to just a few plays all season so this is really the first time he has been healthy and used to full effect. He showed off his skills impressively in the season-opening 36-16 win over Green Bay.
Now everyone is talking about the Seahawks’ use of the jet sweep — i.e., “The Percy Harvin play.”
If the Seahawks don’t beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday — perhaps handily — it will be a huge surprise. After all, how many advantages can one team have over another?
Shall we count the ways?
1 — The Seahawks saw the Chargers’ personnel in the preseason, during a 41-14 demolition, and we saw what happened the last time the Hawks played a preseason opponent during the season: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 in the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks blew out the Broncos in the preseason last year, too, and they used that game to familiarize themselves with the Broncos’ personnel. (The Broncos have to really be looking forward to coming to Seattle next week.)
The Hawks did the same thing with the Chargers this preseason.