RENTON — Through three games, it has been feast or famine for the Seahawks defense, and so far, all the good eating has come at home.
On Sunday, the Seahawks hope to change that in St. Louis.
In two home victories, the defense has been a big part of those wins despite allowing a healthy dose of yardage for two main reasons: the ability to affect the quarterback and a knack for taking the ball away from opposing offenses. Seattle had 11 quarterback hits, two sacks and a pair of interceptions in a season-opening win over San Francisco, then two weeks later the Seahawks beat San Diego while piling up four sacks, nine quarterback hits and forcing five turnovers.
Sandwiched in between those two wins was a loss in Denver in which the Seahawks hit quarterback Kyle Orton all of one time and didn’t force a turnover.
“I liked the way we’ve handled the two opportunities at Qwest,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We haven’t played anywhere near like we need to play, but we’ve handled it with energy, and we’ve been aggressive, and we’ve got the football away from our opponent and all, and then we go on the road a couple weeks ago and we didn’t do anything.”
One area where the lack of quarterback pressure showed up on the stat sheet was third-down conversions. With Orton having time to go about his business, the Broncos converted 14 of 20 third-down attempts, one of the biggest reasons they scored touchdowns on drives of 81, 80 and 80 yards. In their two victories, however, Seattle has held opponents to a conversion rate of 7-for-29 (24.1 percent).
Players say they should be able to have the same success on the road as they have at home, and that the difference in Denver was simply a quarterback who got rid of the ball fast.
“I don’t see no difference if we’re playing away or at home,” said defensive end Chris Clemmons, who has two sacks and a team-high eight quarterback hits. “The only difference is for the offense for the most part. The defense, we go with the same style, same attack. There’s really no difference as far as going on the road or playing at home.
“It’s not more difficult. It’s just a fact of the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands fast.”
Hill placed on IR
Leroy Hill’s season is over, and in all likelihood, so too is the linebacker’s tenure in Seattle. Hill was placed on injured reserve Friday for a calf/Achilles injury that Carroll said will require surgery. Given that Hill is a free agent after this year, it is likely that he has played his last game in Seattle.
Hill, a five-year starter since coming to Seattle as a third-round pick in 2005, signed a six-year contract prior to the 2009 season, but after an offseason that was marred by his second arrest in as many years, he agreed to a restructured contract that cut his base salary from $6 million to $2.125 million, and made him a free agent after this season.
Hill was suspended for the season opener, the result of a marijuana arrest in 2009, then suffered the injury playing on special teams in Week 2. He could have also faced additional discipline from the league stemming from his April arrest for domestic violence. Hill avoided trial in that case, and the charge will be dropped if he meets court stipulations and avoids further legal trouble over the next 18 months.
With Hill out, the Seahawks re-signed defensive tackle Craig Terrill. Terrill spent the first six years of his career with the Seahawks, but was released prior to the start of the season. He said he has been staying home, enjoying family time while staying in shape in case a team called. That call came Friday morning, and Terrill was back with his old team.
“Time with the family was awesome, but I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” he said. “… I had a great time with my family, and now I’m ready to play some football.”
The Seahawks have a number of injury concerns heading into Sunday’s game, especially on defense where several key starters are injured. Pete Carroll said Friday that linebacker Aaron Curry is full go and will play, but defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf) and cornerback Marcus Trufant (ankle) will be game-day decisions.
Right tackle Sean Locklear (knee) hasn’t practiced the past two days, but will be available to play, Carroll said. Rookie left tackle Russell Okung is scheduled to make his debut, which could free up Tyler Polumbus to move to the right side of the line if Locklear can’t play.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog