It's All About The Pressure

The 2008 NFL Season is nearly over for the Seattle Seahawks, and they know it. Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers manhandle the New Englnad Patriots gave them hope that they could still win a few games, including the one on Sunday when they get to play the Patriots

The Seattle Seahawks can sing Kumbaya again.

After the Seahawks suffered a 34-9 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, there were multiple suggestions in the locker room after the game that the defense was not used properly against Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who picked apart the Seahawks in the first two quarters for a 24-3 lead.

Some of the players said at the time they felt that they did not pressure Romo early enough and that this defense is built for speed, which is not being used.

But on Wednesday, safety Deon Grant, who made many of the comments regarding the scheme, said his comments were taken out of context.

"When I say pressure, pressure means a guy in the quarterback's face," Grant said. "I don't talk about blitzes. Blitzes never came out of my mouth. It is pressure. Even if you are in the game on the front line, you have to make sure all the lanes are covered when that quarterback steps up in the hole.

"That is the key; you have to keep a guy in the quarterback's face. That is pressure. Pressure is not always blitzing. That's what some people think. Pittsburgh, that is the real definition of pressure. They got four turnovers (against New England) and they barely blitzed. But they got pressure on the quarterback with them four guys they had and three guys they had rushing."

It appears very likely the Seahawks did not want to give off the appearance that their cohesiveness was crumbling in the face of their disappointing 2-10 record and so mounted a campaign to curtail the lingering impression of negativity.

But the fact remains that the Seahawks aren't getting pressure from their front four, which has been ineffective since Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney went out on Oct. 26 with a shoulder injury.

The Seahawks have only seven sacks in the five games since Kerney's injury, and their secondary has suffered the most: Seattle has dropped to last in the league in pass defense, giving up 265 yards a game.

A great deal of that is because opponents' quarterbacks are getting so much time in the pocket that they are simply picking apart Seattle's defenses.

And when the Seahawks have blitzed, their blitzes often have gotten picked up, leaving cornerbacks vulnerable to getting beat on deep passes - which has happened often this season.

"Pressure is one of those things that is not necessarily feast or famine, but you can get balls caught on you," defensive coordinator John Marshall said. "Pressure isn't always the answer. Obviously there isn't any one answer. But I think playing balls to the wall with all the speed you got is important.

"And blitzing may make you appear fast, but it doesn't mean you are fast. Playing the game with speed and exactness, that is what is important."

Even though Grant retreated from his claim that the defense needs to pressure more, Marshall and coach Mike Holmgren said it is probably something they will employ against the Patriots this Sunday.

"In their mind, if they think a way is better, I think you have to listen to them a little bit," Holmgren said. "I believe that. I think we'll do some of that probably on defense."

--The last time the teams met, in 2004, Koren Robinson - who is back on Seattle's roster - had a career-high nine receptions for a season-high 150 yards.
--When the Seahawks defeated the Patriots in 1992, Seattle won the battle but lost the war. It allowed the Patriots to draft No. 1, and they took quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Seattle took quarterback Rick Mirer with the second overall pick.
--Seahawks LB Lofa Tatupu and Patriots QB Matt Cassel are very good friends from their time together at USC, even though Tatupu was a starter and Cassel played behind first Carson Palmer and then Matt Leinart.
--Part of the reason that WR Deion Branch is in Seattle is because of his performance in the 2004 Super Bowl, when he was the MVP for New England. "It's a little awkward to answer" questions about that Super Bowl, Branch said. "That's why you never see me with the ring. Once we had the parade, it was over."
--Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck grew up in New England and rooted for the Patriots as a youngster. When he was asked which team his family would be rooting for in this game, he said, "I hope Seattle. But you just don't know anymore. You just don't know."
--Seahawks S Brian Russell was teammates with Patriots WR Randy Moss in Minnesota. "He was a great guy and a great teammate," Russell said. "I don't know what the public perception is out there, but all I can tell you is he is a great teammate. As far as me telling these guys about his tendencies, I'm not sure I can tell them anything that they can't see on film."
--LB Lofa Tatupu, a Pro Bowler his first three years in the league, said he doesn't believe he deserves to make the Pro Bowl this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 90.47 -- K Olindo Mare's field goal percentage one year after making only 58.8 percent of his attempts in New Orleans last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't say (how he is) in the locker room, he never came in the locker room. He may have peeked in the training room to get guys out of there, but other than that, he's a coach. He stays where the coaches are supposed to stay. The locker room is for the players. He's not like that. I just think he's (like that) when the cameras are on. He puts on a show for you all, and you all are biting. You all bite every time! As soon as the cameras go off, he laughs about it!" -- Seahawks WR Deion Branch on Patriot coach Bill Belichick, for whom Branch used to play.

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