SEATTLE – While past Novembers have left the Seattle Seahawks without many reasons to give thanks, this year’s team can take solace in the fact that the month will actually include some games that matter.
The St. Louis Rams, currently tied with Seattle atop the NFC West, have given no indication that they are ready to roll over, so every Seahawks game swells with renewed importance.
Today’s game against Pittsburgh will be the difference between a 6-2 record at midseason or a 5-3 mark. While past Seahawk teams would have settled for either one, the 5-3 possibility is not one the 2003 Hawks are willing to consider.
”Coaches and players kind of have a tendency to break the season into quarters and halves, and kind of project your way through the season,” linebacker Chad Brown said. ”Six-and-2 is 12-4 (after 16 games), and that means you win your division and sets you up for the playoffs. Ten-and-6, on the other hand, now you’re maybe a wild card hoping for someone else to do something.”
For the time being, the Seahawks aren’t doing any scoreboard watching. Seattle’s quick start means the players don’t have to worry about the status of the NFC playoff picture.
”I don’t even know what other teams are doing,” Brown said. ”It’s about what we do. We are in a position where it’s about us. When you’re 2-5, then you’re hoping some people lose and you can get on a roll.
”But it’s about what we do now. We don’t have to look back; we can just look ahead at our next opponent.”
Today’s opponent knows what it’s like to be 2-5. The Steelers’ record makes this a must-win game if they are going to try to work their way back into the playoff picture in the AFC.
”We have to play with a degree of desperation, and we have to play with the understanding that we can’t continue to keep falling behind in our division,” Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. ”The margin for error becomes greater each week.”
Strong finishes are nothing new to Cowher, who has a career 57-34-1 record in the months of November and December. His Pittsburgh teams come back from 0-2 starts to make the playoffs in 1993 and 2002.
”No one can rally the troops like he can,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. ”He’s done it before. But it’s hard. It’s just hard.
”We went through it here last year. You get in those situations where you’re trying everything and racking your brain to try to pull you out of a tailspin.”
Fortunately for the current Seahawks, they haven’t had to think in those terms this year. Their motivation for winning these days is that it would be another step in the direction of a rare postseason appearance.
”If we mess around and don’t win, it could mean that we could struggle to get a homefield (playoff) game, or it could mean that we might not get in if we lose a couple of games at the end of the year,” running back Shaun Alexander said. ”I think this game could tell a lot.”
Steelers at Seahawks
Today, 1:05 p.m.
TV: Channel 7
Radio: KIRO (710 AM)