Keys to Game 4: Falcons at Seahawks
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1. Pressure the passer.
The Falcons allowed 23 sacks all of last season, third-fewest in the NFL. They've given up 13 in three games, third-most. Seattle had three sacks against Arizona, and defensive Chris Clemons is heating up, with two sacks in the last two games. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been rattled by the pressure so the Seahawks must heat up Atlanta's pocket.
2. Stop the run.
For Seattle to have a chance in this game, it absolutely has to squelch the run and make the Falcons one-dimensional. Run defense is Seattle's strength with Red Bryant at defensive end, but the Falcons' Michael Turner is a bona fide bruiser at running back. Since Pete Carroll became coach, the Seahawks allow 3.3 yards per carry when Bryant is healthy, 4.7 when he's not.
3. Summon some offense.
Seattle has scored 30 points so far this season, third-fewest after three games for any season in franchise history. The Seahawks have yet to score a first-half touchdown, and Atlanta has shown a tendency to fall behind early this season. The Falcons have been outscored 39-20 in the first half, but outscored their opponents 40-38 in the second half.
Three keys to Falcons victory
1. Protect the ball.
Atlanta has committed eight turnovers, most in the NFC, while Seattle has only two takeaways this season, which is tied for the fewest in the conference. The Seahawks have struggled to score points, and the Falcons absolutely can't gift wrap opportunities for them.
2. Keep a lid on Sidney Rice.
He caught eight passes for 109 yards in his Seahawks debut, accounting for more than half of Seattle's passing yardage vs. Arizona. It was the first real sign of life for this Seahawks offense. That could be a starting point for progress if the Falcons aren't able to put a lid on the player who was a Pro Bowl receiver in 2009.
3. Get pressure on Tarvaris Jackson.
Seattle's pass protection has improved since the season-opener at San Francisco, but the Falcons have a pair of top-shelf pass rushers in Ray Edwards and John Abraham. Abraham has two of the Falcons' five sacks this season.
DE Chris Clemons vs. LT Sam Baker.
The Falcons' left tackle has come under a great deal of scrutiny, and two weeks ago, he withered under the bull rush of Eagles end Trent Cole. Clemons is a speed rusher, and he looked close to 100 percent last week against Arizona. He was one of Seattle's best defenders a year ago, and his speed can affect an opposing offense.
The Seahawks may have lost their past two games to the Falcons, but Seattle still leads the overall series 8-4. The Falcons were 13-3 last season, the best record of any opponent on Seattle's schedule this season. Seattle is 7-3 at home under coach Pete Carroll, including the postseason.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call