Friday, January 14, 2011
Final Word: Seahawks at Bears
By Mike Sando
Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's Seahawks-Bears divisional game at Soldier Field:
Seattle's Curt Warner scored the game-winning touchdown in the Seahawks' last road playoff victory, a 27-20 win against the Dolphins in 1983.
It's been a long road for Seattle. The Seahawks will be looking for their first postseason road victory since upsetting the Miami Dolphins following the 1983 season. They are 1-7 on the road during the postseason and 0-1 at a neutral site (Detroit, Super Bowl XL). Seattle won that divisional-round game at Miami by committing only one turnover and forcing five. That Seattle team, like this one, was breaking in a new head coach (Chuck Knox then, Pete Carroll now). That Seattle team, like this one, was the fourth seed in its conference. That team, like this one, beat the No. 5 seed in the wild-card round. Those Dolphins, like these Bears, were the No. 2 seed.
Matt Hasselbeck, the week after. Seattle's veteran quarterback is coming off the fifth game of his career with at least four touchdown passes. He played well the following week in three of the previous five opportunities. One notable exception: the time in 2006 when Hasselbeck, having picked apart the New York Giants' defense during a 42-30 victory a week earlier, struggled in defeat at Chicago. Seattle's inability to block Tommie Harris was pivotal to that outcome. Containing defensive end Julius Peppers, something Seattle did better than anticipated in Week 6, stands out as a key this time.
Emphasis on turnovers. Every coach talks about them. Carroll sets aside one day each week to focus on them. Turnovers are a greater threat to Seattle this week. Chicago has forced more of them than any team in the league since Lovie Smith arrived as head coach before the 2004 season. The Bears tied for third in the NFL this season with 35 forced turnovers (21 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries), according to the team and the NFL. Seattle lost 32 turnovers this season (17 at home and 15 on the road, counting playoffs). The Seahawks have lost only two in their past three games, however, after suffering 13 in their previous four.