The Morning After: Steelers Beat Seahawks, 24-0

Halloween is still more than a month away, but the Seahawks offense decided to wear dunce caps for the second straight week in a 24-0 snoozefest in Pittsburgh. This may be a long season, Seahawks fans. Arm yourself with lowered expectations, and a sense of humor. As you go out searching for you perfect Halloween costume in the coming weeks, consider these Seahawks-themed characters:

The Man With The Iron Hands – Aaron Curry had a chance to turn a 7-0 game into a 7-7 tie after making a nice break on a ball, but wily Steelers quarterback Ben Roethisberger was clever enough to hit Curry in the iron hands, making a catch all but impossible. A few plays later, the Steelers were ahead 14-0.

Dracula – Tarvaris Jackson sucked the life out of Seahawks fans and team hopes with an abysmal performance. Despite the final box score showing five sacks and eight QB hits (identical to last week), Jackson had plenty of time to make decisions in the pocket against Pittsburgh. The reality that many/all of his receivers were covered does not excuse habitual indecisiveness, inaccuracy, and lack of defense recognition. Jackson could not decide whether he wanted to pass or run multiple times, and almost always made the wrong choice (e.g., scrambling on a 3rd and 15). He continues to sail throws over receivers heads, and has yet to make an audible at the line that got his team into an advantageous play. This was the first game where Jackson could reasonably be judged, and he did nothing to show he will ever be more than the lackluster player he has been throughout his career. Jackson being bad does not make Charlie Whitehurst good. Pete Carroll was already answering questions about making a switch at quarterback after the game. He said the loss had nothing to do with the quarterback position. Expect him to continue protecting Jackson, even if his lineman won’t, all the way through the bye week.

Human Torch – Brandon Browner was initiated on Sunday. The Steelers receivers presented a tough match-up with their speed, but Browner can play much better than he did. The lack of Seahawks pass rush was a major contributor to the problem, and Earl Thomas got caught underneath a few times, leaving Browner without the inside support he was counting on. Fans on Twitter were jumping off the deep end, comparing Browner to Kelly Jennings. That is beyond silly. Browner has now played two NFL games. He was good in the first game and bad in the second. Give the kid a chance. Arizona presents a good chance for redemption.

Captain Transparency & InvisiBoy – Mike Williams and Zach Miller have to be among the most frustrated players in the locker room. They aren’t even getting the chance to succeed or fail. Jackson is locking onto Ben Obomanu, and is barely even looking Williams way. At least a couple of Jackson’s bad decisions involved giving up on Williams’ routes too early, and missing chances for intermediate gains (which equal big gains for this offense). Williams will never be the guy that gets major separation from defenders, but Jackson needs to force-feed him the ball a few times. Miller is basically an offensive lineman at this point. He is only going out into pass patterns a few times each game. Mike Holmgren used to always say a team needed its best players to play their best in order to win tough games. Williams and Miller need more chances to influence the outcome of the game.

Red Warriors – Seattle’s defense is proving to be stout in the red-zone. They had their two more goal line stands against the Steelers, raising their total to five in two games. It is a good indication of the identity forming with the unit. They are tough, unyielding, and far more effective when they don’t have to concern themselves with the deep ball. Both safeties are able to get involved, which is always a positive. Clinton McDonald did some great work again in the middle of the line, as did Brandon Mebane.

King Sidestep – Marshawn Lynch almost looks like he is playing hopscotch as he bounces from foot-to-foot in a diagonal fashion. He is such a tough guy, but his running style is so lateral that he hits the hole with similar force to Shaun Alexander. This team and this offensive line needs Lynch to run with much more conviction and decisiveness. It seems unlikely that Lynch will change his running style after all these years, but that might mean more Justin Forsett or Leon Washington. Someone has to hit the hole, even if there isn’t one to hit.

The Steelers held the ball for over 38 minutes, which is a shocking number. Seattle passed the ball 29 times and ran it only 13, three of which were QB scrambles. That works out to 32 called pass plays to 10 called runs. This team cannot function that way. Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable need to insist on the run. This team may not win a game all year when they pass more than they run. Passing three times as often as they run is a guaranteed loss. It will not be easy. The Seahawks tried to put both Russell Okung and James Carpenter on the same side for one run as an unbalanced line, and they still only managed a single yard. Running two times for every pass should be a goal. It may lead to an uninspired and limited offense, but at least it would be an uninspired and limited offense that was developing a smash-mouth mentality. The lineman, the running backs, the opponents need to know the Seahawks are not going to abandon the run. Only three teams have scored fewer points than the Seahawks, and two of them do not play their second game until tonight. Committing to the run can’t lead to fewer points.

Seattle’s defense has gone two games without forcing a turnover. There is only one other team in the NFL that has not forced a turnover, and the Seahawks played them on Sunday. Coaches will have to weigh how much it is worth taking some more risks as the season progresses. The unit is playing sound defense, but they may need to apply more pressure to try and win a game or two with big plays.

Arizona comes to town next week. It is the most winnable game on the schedule for quite some time. Seattle better come out with a different approach, or this could get very ugly.