There are already just 10 undefeated teams in the NFL, and nine that are 2-0 (Detroit is 1-0-1).
Seattle is one of them, if by the slimmest of margins, three points total.
But a 2-0 start, no matter how it happens, traditionally has been a good omen for the Seahawks.
Seattle has started 2-0 10 other times in franchise history. Only once did Seattle start 2-0 and then finish with a losing season (1994, at 6-10). Six times, Seattle parlayed a 2-0 start into a playoff berth — and in 2013, to a Super Bowl title.
But coach Pete Carroll also stresses it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Seattle started 0-2 last year, then rallied to finish 10-6.
But why take the hard route if you don’t have to?
Here’s my review of how Seattle got to 2-0, looking at what I thought might happen and what did.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
What I said: Seahawks offensive line vs. Steelers defensive line.
What happened: For the first third of the game, this did not go well as Seattle allowed four sacks on their first five series, punting three times. But then the Seahawks, who say they planned all along to emphasize a quick passing game to counter Pittsburgh’s defensive aggressiveness, finally got their offense figured out. Russell Wilson got rid of the ball quickly, receivers read hot routes better, and the line smoothed out its assignments up front. Wilson didn’t get sacked in the final 37 minutes and the Seahawks scored points on four of their final seven drives, another resulting in running out the clock. Ultimately, Seattle won this battle just enough to win the game.
What I could have said: Russell Wilson vs. the Pittsburgh secondary.
Going to a quick passing game not only meant that linemen didn’t have to hold blocks as long, it also put more of the onus on Wilson to read the coverages and make fast decisions. And why not put your fate even that much more squarely on the shoulders of your best player?
The battle of Wilson against a shaky Steelers secondary that had been toasted by Tom Brady the week before turned into a mismatch. It’s just two games, but Wilson is off to his best start as a Seahawk with a 134.5 passer rating, five touchdowns against no interceptions and completing a whopping 78.2% of his passes. Wilson has thrown just four interceptions in his last 16 regular-season games.
PLAYER TO WATCH
What I said: Safeties Bradley McDougald and Lano Hill.
What happened: Seattle’s old/new safety duo — Hill and McDougald also started the final two regular-season games of last season — performed admirably. A week after the Bengals had six passes of 20 yards or longer against Seattle’s secondary with Tedric Thompson at free safety, the Steelers had just one, a flea flicker for 45 yards. With Thompson likely out again this week, the Hill/McDougald safety duo should start against the Saints, with Hill getting a chance to make the job his for the long-term.
Who else I could have said: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett.
Lockett had just one catch on two targets against the Bengals in what was his first game as the team’s No. 1 receiver. And that result led to all the obvious — if probably premature — debate about how Lockett will handle that designation. The answer came Sunday as Lockett had a career-high 10 receptions on 12 targets.
COACHING DECISION TO WATCH
What I said: Will the Seahawks play more nickel defense than in Week 1?
What happened: Seattle played nickel on 22 of 77 snaps against the Bengals, 28%, deciding instead to usually go with a base defense and leave the linebacking trio of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks on the field. The re-signing of Jamar Taylor gave Seattle a more experienced nickel to play against the Steelers — rookie Ugo Amadi held that role against the Bengals. That resulted in a little bit of an uptick in nickel play — Taylor played 19 of 57 snaps, 33%. So, a little bit more, but still nowhere near the roughly 70% nickel average last season. As long as the linebackers can hold up in coverage, Seattle is going to keep them on the field as much as possible.
What else I could have said: The running back rotation. After Chris Carson got most of the work against the Bengals, Rashaad Penny got to share more of the workload against the Steelers. Some of that was undoubtedly due to Carson’s fumbles. But the Seahawks also know they can’t overuse Carson and also want to take advantage of Penny’s gifts, which were evident in his 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. In 26 snaps, Penny had 10 carries for a game-high 62 yards. Penny had just 14 snaps during Week 1.
What I said: Starting fast on the road.
What happened: Well, the Seahawks didn’t really do this. As I noted in my preview, Seattle fell behind at the half in six of seven true road games last season. The Seahawks again were behind Sunday, 10-7. And it might be easy to forget now that Seattle went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half and had to punt from its own 22. In one of the sneakiest big sequences of the game, Michael Dickson nailed a 59-yard punt that went out of bounds for no return. Three plays later, McDougald picked off Mason Rudolph and the game began to turn.
What else I could have said: Key injuries. OK, so this is always an impossible one to predict. But Ben Roethlisberger’s injury — he apparently entered the game with a sore arm that he then aggravated further — certainly made this a different game than many expected.
WILD-CARD PLAYER WHO COULD SURPRISE
Who I said: Defensive end Ziggy Ansah.
What happened: Nothing. He didn’t play for the second consecutive week with the Seahawks having decided to wait for Week 3 against New Orleans. But rookie first-round draft choice L.J. Collier, who I also mentioned, did play and saw 16 snaps. He did not record a stat in what was his first NFL action of any kind after he missed the preseason with a sprained ankle.
Who else I could have said: Wide receiver Malik Turner. The second-year player’s three receptions for 54 yards — each more than his career totals of two for 20 coming into the game — helped spark the offense.
What I said: First-down play-calling.
What happened: Seattle’s first-down play selection always is a point of much debate, and became more so after the Bengals game when the Seahawks gained just 24 yards on 13 first-down rushing attempts while gaining 102 yards on 10 first-down passes. Seattle was much better on first down against the Steelers, and threw it more often than in the opener.
Seattle had 74 yards rushing on 14 first-down carries — almost half the team’s total of 151 yards rushing on 33 carries. Seattle threw it 18 times on first down, completing 13 for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and overall gained 6.1 yards per play on first down. Penalties, though, remained an issue and pushed Seattle back at times as did four sacks – two of which occurred on second down and two on third down.
What else I could have said: Red-zone efficiency. Seattle is doing a nice job this year of making the most of its opportunities. On four drives with plays that started inside the 20, Seattle has four touchdowns — going 2 for 2 in each game (the Seahawks also have scored three other touchdowns of longer than 20 yards). Defensively, Seattle has allowed touchdowns on four of eight drives inside the 20. That’s made a big difference in two games decided by two points or less.
THE FINAL WORD
What I predicted: Steelers 24, Seahawks 20.
What happened: I got that wrong one, and take away the two turnovers and short Pittsburgh touchdown drives and I might have been wrong by a lot. We’ll know in a few weeks if that says more about the Seahawks or the Steelers, who could be headed for a lost season now. Regardless, one rough trip is out of the way and the Seahawks have shown a lot of resilience and adaptability in getting to 2-0.