The first of two games in a row against teams currently unbeaten figures to be the gnarliest for the Seahawks, since it’s on the road Sunday in Cincinnati Sunday and the Bengals have the NFL’s second-ranked offense, averaging 422 yards a game. But at least the Seahawks can throw the No. 2-ranked defense at the Bengals.
What do the Seahawks throw on offense? Maybe the Beast.
Coach Pete Carroll sounded a little more optimistic Wednesday about RB Marshawn Lynch, who sat out Monday’s 13-10 win over Detroit with a slightly pulled hamstring. His return likely will be a game-time decision again, but he was on the field running during warmups Monday.
“We’re going day-to-day,” Carroll said. “He did make a lot of progress last week, and was able to run around some. He’s worked really hard at it so we’ll see if we can get it done.”
Unsurprisingly, the Seahawks weren’t the same without him. Rookie RB Thomas Rawls was all right rushing, with 48 yards in 17 carries, but he gained only nine yards in his first eight carries.
Lynch is also valuable as a pass catcher and a pass blocker, two subtleties mostly new to Rawls.
Lynch’s presence is especially urgent because of backup RB Fred Jackson’s sprained ankle. Carroll said Jackson was moving better than expected, but recovery from a high sprain in a short week seems unlikely.
If neither Lynch nor Jackson is available, Rawls will be backed by FB Derrick Coleman. Jackson caught two passes for 33 yards, a weapon likely unusable with with Rawls or Coleman.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks’ No. 1 defensive priority has always been to stop explosive plays. Last year they were best in the NFL at it.
But explosive plays, primarily from QB Andy Dalton to WR A.J. Green, are what the Bengals are about. Green is fourth in the NFL in receiving yards (417). Dalton’s fourth-quarter passer rating is No. 1, at 149.1, and he’s No. 2 (123.0) behind Aaron Rodgers (125.9) in overall passer rating.
Carroll said the ability to keep the Bengals offense from getting over the top is crucial.
“In our defensive scheme, we are extraordinarily tied to that principle,” he said. “If you give up long touchdown plays, you’re not a very good defense. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how hard you hit or whatever. So it all begins there.
“We’re very fortunate that our guys on the back end have really understood that. Earl (Thomas) has been a tremendous advocate of the philosophy, as has Richard (Sherman) and Kam (Chancellor), and Cary (Williams) is really tuned in. Cary played a very, very good football game against terrific football players (Monday). That was a remarkably good game for him, I was really happy for him.”
DT Brandon Mebane (strained groin muscle) returned to practice Wednesday and was a full go as was backup Steven Terrell and WR Ricardo Lockette (illness) . . . CB Marcus Burley had surgery to repair a broken thumb, although Carroll indicated Burley may not be out all that long . . . Two others who missed Monday’s game, DE Demarcus Dobbs (shoulder) and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) will have decisions made on them later in the week. CB Tharold Simon (toe) is out again.