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Originally published Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 10:01 PM

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Road tests ahead for Seahawks over next six games

Four of the Seahawks' next six games are on the road, including Saturday's game in Chicago and a Nov. 21 test in New Orleans. The road test will determine this season's fate of a Seattle team that has struggled away from home.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seahawks @ Chicago Bears, 10 a.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — The Seahawks returned to the practice field this week, resuming their season under mostly sunny skies with pressure looming on the horizon.

That pressure is the result of this year's schedule, which calls for Seattle to play four of its next six games on the road, beginning Sunday in Chicago.

This is the fulcrum of Seattle's season, the stretch that will determine whether the Seahawks will play meaningful games come December or just look for meaningful growth.

"It's going to be very difficult," coach Pete Carroll said. "These games are enormously challenging, and it's not going to be easy in Chicago."

It won't be easy in New Orleans against the defending Super Bowl champs on Nov. 21, either, or in Arizona on Nov. 14. Even Seattle's game in Oakland on Halloween is a trouble spot, given the way the Raiders played Sunday against San Diego.

For a team with Seattle's baggage of road losses, this amounts to a two-month gauntlet as Seattle plays only two homes in the 61 days following their Week 3 victory over San Diego.

Seattle is 2-2 because of a potent combination of defense and decibels. The Seahawks have forced seven turnovers in two home victories.

Staying in the playoff chase will require more than just success at home, though. Seattle must find a way to keep from getting run over on the road. The Seahawks haven't lost their last four road games dating to last season so much as they've been flattened, outscored 133-34.

That will have to change if Seattle has any hope of keeping its head above water this season. That's just the reality of the Seahawks' schedule.

Seattle is 0-2 on the road, but took drastically different paths to those results. In Denver in Week 2, the Seahawks shot themselves in the foot with regularity, committing two turnovers inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

The loss in St. Louis in Week 4 was utterly devoid of significant plays. Seattle's offense never crossed midfield in the second half, and its defense created only one turnover. The interception in the end zone saved Seattle from an opponent's scoring chance, but did nothing to shift field position.

"We played a good, solid football game without any explosive plays in any part of our offense or defense," Carroll said. "It just didn't happen. We created no bonuses at all."

Seattle has to find a way to generate that energy itself.

Every season has a crucial stretch. Last year, it came down to two weeks in October. The Seahawks were 1-3 with two straight home games and needing two wins to get back to even footing before the bye.

Four of Seattle's five November games were on the road, which left the Seahawks no wiggle room. Sure enough, when the Seahawks split those two home games and entered the bye 2-4, their chances of playoff contention were shot.

If Seattle can survive this stretch of four road games in the next six weeks, and be at .500 come Thanksgiving, the Seahawks will be in great position for a closing kick with four of their final six games at home.

Seattle spent the first month of the season weathering uncertainty up front. There was the rotating cast of reserve linemen, the absence of left tackle Russell Okung to a high-ankle sprain or Chester Pitts' inability to play in a game before the bye.

Seattle has a new running back (Marshawn Lynch), a stabilized offensive line and a clear challenge that begins this weekend in Chicago.

Note

• Seattle will add CB Kennard Cox to the 53-man roster, filling the spot vacated by WR Deion Branch after he was traded to New England. Cox was previously on the practice squad.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Tough road
The Seahawks will play four of their next six games on the road, where they have been outscored 133-34 in their past four games dating to last season. The next six games:
When Where
Sunday at Chicago
Oct. 24 vs. Arizona
Oct. 31 at Oakland
Nov. 7 vs. New York Giants
Nov. 14 at Arizona
Nov. 21 at New Orleans

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