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A victory both teams need
Aces will be wild at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, as the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense squares off against the New England Patriots’ No. 1-ranked defense.
But could a “4” trump all the anticipation of the league’s stingiest defense meeting the league’s most prolific offense? Each team enters Sunday’s showdown at 3-2, and the difference between emerging 4-2 or 3-3 is far more significant than the one-game difference would indicate.
“It’s huge. It’s very huge,” Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill said. “For us, it’s 4 yards in (the opening-day loss) Arizona. It’s a couple plays here and there in (the Week 4 loss) St. Louis.”
For the Patriots, it was a one-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens or a two-point loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Hill said, “because both of us want to move to 4 – 4-2. So I’m glad we’re at home for this one.”
The Seahawks are 2-0 at home, while the Patriots are 2-1 on the road.
“It’s so hard to win in this league,” Hill said. “So whether you’re playing the Patriots or whoever the worst team is right now, it’s tough. They all have star players. They all have good schemes. You have to come and play every week.
“We can’t get up more for this week than we do the next week. We can’t allow ourselves to make this game any bigger than it is. You know, ‘Oh, it’s Tom Brady.” Let’s just go play ball. We’re pretty good ourselves.”
There’s also another overlooked aspect to this game: The Seahawks’ still-growing offense against the Patriots’ overshadowed defense.
While the Patriots have scored at least 30 points in four of their first five games, their 22nd-ranked defense has limited three opponents to 21 or fewer points. The Seahawks’ No. 27-ranked offense, meanwhile, has scored more than 16 points only once.
The Seahawks’ best defense against the Patriots’ up-tempo offense? It just might be hanging onto the ball as long as possible on offense, to keep Brady and friends on the sideline.
“We just have to play our game,” rookie quarterback Russell Wilson said. “Get up field. Make plays. Get first downs. One play at a time. Then when we get down in the red zone and in third-down situations, we’ve got to capitalize.
And, as Hill emphasized, it can’t hurt that the game is being played in Seattle.
“I always say 100 yards is 100 yards. It doesn’t matter where I play,” Wilson said. “But it does help to have that 12th Man cheering behind you. It’s pretty fascinating. I’ve played in a lot of big stadiums before in college and now so far in the NFL, but there’s nothing like CenturyLink.”
Brady is about to discover what it’s like for the opposing quarterback, because he was injured and did not play in the Patriots’ 2008 game in Seattle.
“This will be fun,” Brady told reporters who cover the Patriots during the week. “It’s always nice when you take 53 guys on the road and you say, ‘This is all we’ve got and this is all we need and this is what we have to do.’ And see 70,000 fans, if you can keep them quiet or turn them on their own team.
“I think that’s an exciting part for road teams, is to see if you can get them booing their own players.”
The final word – or noise – in that one, of course, is up to the 12th Man.