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NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - INSIDE SLANT
The Seattle Seahawks are focused as much on their own lofty standards as they are Sunday's opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Seattle is a 16-point favorite against the beleaguered and winless Bucs, and with a home field advantage that is as strong as any in the NFL right now, should be able to improve to 8-1.
But the Seahawks acknowledge that they'd like a win to look a little better than did their 14-9 survival at St. Louis Monday night, in which they were held to a season-low 135 yards and needed a last-second goal-line stand to preserve the victory.
We didn't perform up to our standards," said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. "We didn't perform well enough, all the way from the top to the bottom. I've got to do a better job of putting us in better situations to be successful. We have to execute better. We have to protect better. We have to throw and catch better. There's so many areas that we didn't play up to our standards."
The most vexing area for the team remains its offensive line, which continues to be without starting tackles Russell Okung (left) and Breno Giacomini (right). Neither will return this week, though there is a chance that Giacomini could be back by a game at Atlanta on Nov. 10 and Okung by a game against Minnesota on Nov. 17.
Seattle also suddenly, though, has issues at receiver as it was learned this week that Sidney Rice will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against the Rams. Rice was Seattle's third-leading receiver with 15 catches, but at 6-4 also provided a height dimension that no other Seahawk offers.
Rice's absence likely means a larger role for Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who have typically lined up more in the slot, and also maybe more targets for Golden Tate, the team's other starting outside receiver.
Unlikely to help this week is Percy Harvin, who returned to practice last week after hip surgery on Aug. 1, but since has been limited. Coach Pete Carroll said Harvin wouldn't practice on Wednesday as the Seahawks began preparations for the game against Tampa Bay, and said that Harvin simply remains "day-to-day" with no specific ETA for when he may play.
Carroll also said Seattle will continue to take the long view with Harvin, which seemed to indicate that it's unlikely he will play this week.
While much of the focus for the sluggish outing against the Rams fell on the offense, the defense was also gashed for a season-high 200 yards rushing by the Rams.
"We just weren't as sharp (as usual)," Carroll said, adding that he didn't think the defense was beaten physically as much as just not performing to its usual standard. "We were out of position some and the ball carries ran by us more," he said.
Seattle will hope to fix all of those ills Sunday as it goes for its fourth win in a row and 13th in 14 games dating to last season.
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 7-4 but have lost the last three, including a 38-15 defeat in Tampa Bay in 2010 during Pete Carroll's first season as coach.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - NOTES, QUOTES
-- Old-time Seahawks fans may remember that Seattle's first-ever victory came against Tampa Bay, 13-10 in Tampa Bay in 1976.
-- While Marshawn Lynch was held to 23 yards rushing last week, he remains among the NFL leaders in several different categories, including total yards from scrimmage. He is sixth this week with 782 -- 601 rushing and 181 receiving.
-- Seattle's 135 yards at St. Louis did a number to a few of the team's statistical rankings. Most notably, the Seahawks fell from 10th to 15th in total offense, seeing their average fall from 368.6 per game to 339.4.
-- Seattle's two interceptions last week gives the Seahawks 13 for the season, tied with Denver for the most in the NFL.
BY THE NUMBERS: 62-29 -- Seattle's record at home since opening CenturyLink Field in 2002, second-best in the NFL behind the 65-26 of Green Bay. Sunday's game marks a stretch of five of eight at home to end the season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Very frustrating. It's kind of hard to talk about it without saying too much, but offensively we were very disappointed. We left a lot of plays out on the field. We didn't execute some of the things that we are known for executing. It just wasn't us, and honestly we were embarrassed by it," -- Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin on the team's poor offensive showing at St. Louis.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Ricardo Lockette was signed from the practice squad Wednesday to replace Sidney Rice, who was put on injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury. Lockette played two games for Seattle in 2011 before being waived prior to the 2012 season. He was with the 49ers and Bears this season before being signed to Seattle's practice squad last week. At 6-2, he is now the tallest receiver on the roster with the 6-4 Rice gone.
--LB Bobby Wagner's return against the Rams also meant the return of the team's previous linebacking alignment, with Wagner at MLB, K.J. Wright moving back to the weak side and Bruce Irvin continuing on the strong side. That meant Malcolm Smith, who had filled in at weak side the last two weeks and was the starter on the strong side before Irvin became eligible in week five, moved back to the bench. He played just five snaps against the Rams.
--LB Bruce Irvin continues to show that the move to strong-side LB has a chance to be a good one. He had an interception 20 yards downfield against the Rams on a pass intended for tight end Jared Cook, the kind of play in coverage that many wondered if Irvin would be able to make. Irvin spent last season playing defensive end as a rookie.
--S Jeron Johnson, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury, has played just four games this season while battling hamstring injuries, and his limited availability is one reason starter Kam Chancellor has played every snap this year. Johnson did not practice Wednesday.
GAME PLAN: Seattle enters the game with one of the biggest point spread in its favor in its history, listed as being at least a 16-point favorite.
That obviously points to the expectation of an easy win.
Seattle, though, will want to do more than just win this one after the sluggish game against the Rams.
Offensively, Seattle may try to lean on its running game and get Marshawn Lynch going after he had just 23 yards on eight carries last week against the Rams. Tampa Bay, though, is allowing just 94.6 rushing yards per game in what is its biggest statistical strength.
Seattle needs to be successful on early-down runs to set up play-action passes, something that wasn't effective last week as the Seahawks couldn't consistently get much going on first down, and converted just 2-11 third downs.
If Seattle can get the play-action going, don't be surprised to see quarterback Russell Wilson try to make liberal use of tight end Zach Miller as the team will have to go to alternate targets with Sidney Rice now out for the season.
Defensively, Seattle will focus on playing better assignment football after allowing 200 rushing yards at St. Louis --- the Seahawks felt that being out of position too often and overrunning plays was the main culprit.
If Tampa Bay can't run, then the Bucs will have no choice but to try to continue to throw it a lot with rookie QB Mike Glennon, whose 185 passing attempts in his first four games are an NFL record. That also, though, could be a recipe for disaster against a Seattle defense that is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with 13.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Buccaneers DE Adrian Clayborn vs. Seahawks LT Paul McQuistan, who continues to fill in for the injured Russell Okung -- Clayborn doesn't rank as one of the real sackmasters in the NFL this year, with three so far. But the Seahawks are struggling to protect the edges as much as anyone in the NFL, with Okung's absence growing more noticeable each week. The Bucs will no doubt look for ways to maximize Clayborn's ability to get to Seattle QB Russell Wilson.
--Buccaneers LB Lavonte David vs. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson -- Davis is among the NFL's leaders in tackles for a loss with 11 from his weakside linebacker spot. Wilson is Seattle's second-leading rusher with 339, many coming on unplanned scrambles. David figures to have primary duty to keep Wilson's running in check.
--Buccaneers CB Darrelle Revis vs. Serahawks WR Golden Tate -- With Sidney Rice now out for the season and it remaining unclear when Percy Harvin will return, the onus will fall on Tate to produce a little more. He scored Seattle's only two touchdowns last week, including an 80-yarder on which he was penalized for taunting, finishing with five catches for a season-high 93 yards.