Countdown to kickoff: Seahawks vs. Buccaneers

Posted Nov 3, 2013

The 7-1 Seahawks, off to the best first-half start in franchise history, open the second half of their season at CenturyLink Field on Sunday against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers and are looking to calm a few concerns.

Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks haven’t played since Oct. 13 – and it seems even longer ago than that.

As coach Pete Carroll told reporters after Friday’s practice, “I’m excited about coming home with a chance to play here. I don’t know if you feel like we do, but it feels like we have not been here very often.”

The Seahawks did play five of the games during their franchise-best 7-1 start on the road, including the last two and four of the past five. But that is about to change as the Seahawks kickoff the second half of their season that includes five home games starting with Sunday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This Seahawks team that already has made history will share the field with the historic 1983 Seahawks, as that first playoff team in franchise history will be honored during a halftime ceremony. But before that happens, the 2013 Seahawks have a few matters that need to be addressed.

The offense is due for a breakout performance. And if it has to come against the winless Buccaneers, so be it. It just needs to be, after the Seahawks ran only 40 plays and gained just 134 yards in Monday night’s oh-so-close 14-9 victory over the Rams in St. Louis that wasn’t decided until cornerback Brandon Browner swatted a fourth-down pass incomplete in the end zone on the final play.

The offense still is without injured starting tackles Russell Okung (toe) and Breno Giacomini (knee), who are scheduled to return to practice on Wednesday. Without them, the offense has had problems protecting Russell Wilson, who was sacked a career-high seven times against the Rams and lost two fumbles while being sacked once against the Cardinals the week before. Against the Bucs, the Seahawks won’t have wide receiver Sidney Rice, who was placed on injured reserve during the week after tearing a knee ligament against the Rams.

But the Bucs won’t have Dashon Goldson. The former University of Washington free safety, who was a Pro Bowl player the past two seasons while with the 49ers, did not make the trip to Seattle on Friday because of a knee injury.

The thing to watch with the Seahawks’ No. 2-ranked defense is whether there will be any lingering weariness after it was on the field for 71 snaps against the Rams. Also, defensive lineman and sack leader Michael Bennett and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas each missed a day of practice this week because they were sick, but Thomas was back for the walkthrough on Saturday after being sent home Friday and Bennett returned Thursday after sitting out Wednesday.

Even with leading rusher Doug Martin missing his second game because of a shoulder injury, the Bucs want to run the ball. The Seahawks need to just say no to that with their actions after allowing 200 rushing yards to the Rams, and then pressure rookie QB Mike Glennon – 6-foot-6 rookie QB Mike Glennon – into throwing ill-advised passes into their Legion of Boom secondary. Thomas and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman share the NFL with four interceptions each, and the Seahawks share the league lead with 13.

Glennon said during the week that he was prepared for his fifth NFL start in what he has heard is a noisy place to play, but even thinking you’re prepared can’t get you totally ready for the din the 12th Man can unleash on unsuspecting senses.

The Seahawks finished last season the same way they have started this season – 7-1. The Seahawks also are starting the second half of this season as they did the second half of last season, with a home game that is the first of five at CenturyLink Field in the final eight games. They won in Week 9 last season, 30-20 over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field as Wilson threw for three touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch ran for a 124 yards and a score and the defense somehow weathered a 182-yard, two-TD performance by eventual league MVP Adrian Peterson.

Except for that last part, anyone for an encore?

Sit back and enjoy what’s about to unfold, with kickoff and televised coverage on FOX (Q/13 in Seattle) set for 1:05 p.m. PT.