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Seahawks desperate for win entering home opener
Still licking their wounds from two disheartening road losses to open the 2018 season, the Seattle Seahawks believe some much-needed home cooking can steer the team in the right direction against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.
Following a 24-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Seattle dropped to 0-2 for the first time since 2015. While many have disregarded the Seahawks' playoff chances, head coach Pete Carroll thinks returning to CenturyLink Field can be a turning point after what has been a dreadful start thus far.
"This is really special to come home. It feels like we haven't been home for a long time and to be playing in front of the 12s and all that is a big deal to us," Carroll told reporters on Wednesday. "It's obvious we need to get kick-started and this is the best place in the world to do that, so we're going to try to make the most of this opportunity."
Historically, the Seahawks have been dominant at home, but the team managed to lose four out of their final five games at CenturyLink last season, including a 42-7 obliteration at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15 as part of a late-season swoon.
They'll be looking to restore their winning ways in front of a raucous hometown crowd against a talented Dallas Cowboys squad that grinded out a 20-13 win over the New York Giants last week.
Similar to Seattle, much has changed for the Cowboys since the two teams clashed last December. Though quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott remain cornerstones for Dallas, the team parted ways with star receiver Dez Bryant and lost tight end Jason Witten to the broadcast booth. The highly regarded offensive line has also been missing All-Pro center Travis Frederick, who discovered he had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurological disorder, during the preseason.
Despite the fact that Dallas is averaging only 14 points per game and ranks near the bottom of the league in yardage, Carroll sees a "broadened" offensive attack spearheaded by Prescott, who he believes "can do anything" at the quarterback position.
"They've expanded their style of play," Carroll said, referencing Prescott's ability to impact games as a runner. "They've been influenced by some other teams that have done some good stuff, in their division in particular, and you can see them experimenting with things."
Even with these schematic changes as well as a dramatically different group of receivers, Elliott remains the driving force of the Dallas offense out of the backfield. The 2016 NFL rushing champion hasn't hit the 100-yard mark yet this season, but he thinks the run game is close to breaking through.
"I think we're really close, really close to where we need to be," Elliott said. "We're just like one block, one man away from hitting some big ones."
Stopping Elliott behind one of the league's better lines will surely be one of the Seahawks' top priorities on Sunday, but exuding similar confidence, Carroll envisions Seattle's offense stepping up to the challenge on its home turf after a horrific start headlined by poor pass protection for quarterback Russell Wilson, a lack of commitment to the run game and persistent third-down struggles.
In two games, Wilson has been sacked an astonishing 12 times while the Seahawks have converted less than 30 percent of third-down opportunities and constantly played off schedule, allowing pass rushers to tee off on the franchise quarterback.
With only 80 total offensive yards through three quarters against the Bears, Wilson and the Seahawks much-maligned offense finally woke up early in the fourth quarter. Wilson delivered a beautiful touchdown strike to receiver Tyler Lockett, trimming Chicago's lead to seven. An unfortunate pick-six on the following drive thwarted momentum and ultimately ended the game, but Carroll loved the resiliency showed on Seattle's final offensive possession.
Though it was too late to change the outcome, Carroll saw the 99-yard scoring drive capped off by a short touchdown pass to tight end Will Dissly at the end of regulation as a precursor to great success in coming weeks. By simply eliminating some of the negative aspects such as down and distance that have plagued Seattle in its first two losses, he visualizes brighter days ahead.
"There's enough positive things that are showing that I don't see anything other than us getting really good at what we're doing." Carroll said. "It's coming. I feel it, I can see it on the practice field, I can see it on the guys we're calling on to do things. ... This is going to come together."
Stuck in an 0-2 hole that few teams overcome to reach the playoffs, Carroll pointed out that only a handful of teams in the NFC are undefeated and the Seahawks will approach Sunday's tilt as they always do with championship expectations. For these playoff aspirations to be revived this season, they'll have to get the ball rolling against a Cowboys defense that currently ranks in the top five in total points and yardage.
"We gotta get a win and just like we did last week, it's gonna be the same next week too. Nothing changes on that- the urgency is always there."
If the urgency doesn't help yield a home victory in what Carroll foresees as a must-win game, Seattle's season could be over before the calendar turns to October.
SERIES HISTORY: 18th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 10-8. Prior to Seattle relocating to the NFC in 2002, Dallas dominated the series, winning five of the first six matchups between 1976 and 2001. Since realignment, the two franchises have split 10 regular-season contests. Seattle edged Dallas in a 21-20 thriller during the 2007 NFC playoffs. The Seahawks have won the previous two matchups, most recently defeating the Cowboys 21-12 in Week 16 last season.