Sunday, January 9, 2011
Quick Take: Seahawks at Bears
By Mike Sando
Three things to know about Sunday's Seattle Seahawks-Chicago Bears divisional-round playoff game at Soldier Field:
1. Seattle heads to Chicago with confidence. The Seahawks claimed their most impressive victory of the regular season, 23-20, at Soldier Field in Week 6. The defense sacked Jay Cutler six times and held Chicago to zero third-down conversions in 12 chances. Seattle used extra defensive backs in its blitz packages to great effect. Defensive backs had 4.5 of the six sacks. Marshawn Lynch made his Seattle debut in this game and brought an edge to the running game. Mike Williams caught 10 passes for 123 yards in his first breakout game as a Seahawk. Rookie left tackle Russell Okung started and finished a game for the first time in his NFL career. This performance embodied coach Pete Carroll's vision for the team.
2. The Bears are a different team now. Chicago ran the ball only 14 times against Seattle, matching a season low. The Seahawks controlled the game -- Chicago scored on a punt return in the final two minutes to make it closer -- but the Bears never really tried to run. Chicago has made a more concerted effort to balance its offense as the season has progressed. The Bears averaged 29.8 carries per game over an eight-game period ending in Week 16. Matt Forte rushed for at least 91 yards in five of the Bears' final six games. Seattle lost its best run defender, Red Bryant, for the season two weeks after playing Chicago.
3. The Seahawks are 3-1 in rematches. Seattle won both its games against the Cardinals and has never been swept under Carroll. They beat the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints in rematches after losing the first time. They won the tactical battles in both victories, including when they used play-action fakes to get tight end John Carlson open for two touchdowns against New Orleans' gambling defense in the wild-card round. The Seahawks' one defeat in a rematch this season: a 40-21 blowout at San Francisco featuring four Hasselbeck interceptions.