Seahawks host Brady, Patriots | Seahawks Gameday

A fast and physical Seahawks defense kept Carolina quarterback Cam Newton from being anything close to
A fast and physical Seahawks defense kept Carolina quarterback Cam Newton from being anything close to 'super'.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Seahawks return to Century Link Field this week to face the New England Patriots after a gritty 16-12 win over Carolina last week that took the team to 3-2 and helped keep pace in an increasingly difficult NFC West division.

Tom Brady and the defending AFC Champions are fresh off a pair of wins, 52-28 over the Bills and 31-21 over Peyton Maning and the Denver Broncos. The game will be a matchup of contrasts, as the Patriots bring the league's top ranked offense and scoring offense to town at nearly 440 yards and 33 points per game to face a Seattle defense that is first in the league in total defense and second in points per game at 14.

"They have terrific weapons and they really utilize the strengths of their guys in great fashion," Seahawks head coach Pete Caroll said in his weekly press conference.

He added that the team expects to see hybrid tight end Aaron Hernandez back on the field for the Patriots this week after he missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

"They know how to use him, which is what is really cool about their attack and whole philosophy," Carroll said. "You can't have more problems than they present."

Stevan Ridley, a shifty and bruising back out of LSU, is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has the New England rush offense gaining more than 165 yards per game, third best in the league.

"It's an exciting opportunity," Carroll.

But the biggest challenge for the Seattle defense may come in the form of tempo, as Brady led his group at a breakneck pace last week that saw them set a franchise record for first downs with 35 on 89 total offensive plays. Much has been made this week of the simplified play calling in the modified no-huddle, which will surely be tested by the 12th Man. But Carroll said he expects the 12th Man to play a role in impacting the effectiveness of the hurry-up style.

"I'd guess they won't do it here," Caroll said. "Because the 12th Man will be so loud and so crazy, they probably won't even choose to do that."

Regardless of how the Patriots operate pre-snap, the Seattle pass rush should be a factor with the aid of the 12th Man, as Carroll alluded to. Rookie Bruce Irvin had his best game as a professional last week, recording a pair of sacks and the forced fumble that sealed the win.

The Seattle offense will try and build on last week's performance against the Panthers, when rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a career-best 221 yards. Wilson also tossed a pair of interceptions and will need to limit opportunities for the Patriots to make a momentum-shifting play, as they have already nabbed six picks on the year.

Another key, especially at Century Link Field, could be penalties. If the Seahawks can avoid the same kind of mistakes that cost the offense at least one explosive play in the passing game last week and utilize the noise factor when on defense, it could prove to play a major role in what should be a closely contested game throughout.

The game will be Tom Brady's first trip to Seattle, and the Patriots first trip to the Pacific Northwest since 2008, when backup Matt Cassel led his team to 11 fourth quarter points in the 24-21 win. Deion Branch, who caught a pair of scores for the Seahawks in that game, will be back on the other side this week with New England.

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