For a team that has struggled on the road in recent years, the Seahawks don’t seem to have much of a problem coming into Chicago and defeating the Bears, which they’ve done in each of the past two seasons.
The 6-5 Seahawks are just 1-5 on the road this season, while the 8-3 Bears are 5-1 at Soldier Field. But Seattle has been able to overcome the Bears’ homefield advantage of late.
Coach Pete Carroll’s team has won just six games on the road in three seasons, but two of them were against the Bears, including last season’s 38-14 pasting. Coach Lovie Smith’s team made amends for a 23-20 defeat in the 2010 regular season by eliminating the Seahawks in a divisional round playoff game 35-24, which was also at Soldier Field. But that’s not good enough for Smith, whose team is 15-7 at home since the 2010 season.
“Seattle has beaten us two out of three times on our home field,” the Bears’ coach said. “We just can’t allow that to continue. It’s as simple as that.”
Last season’s 24-point loss bordered on humiliation, considering the Seahawks dominated with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. The Bears turned the ball over five times, including 3 Caleb Hanie interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns.
“They beat us bad last year,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “They beat us up, up front. They came in here in late December, in our weather, and put it on us pretty good.”
Ironically, the Bears have always done an exemplary job of keeping Seahawks stud running back Marshawn Lynch from going “Beast Mode” on them. Last season he scored twice but managed just 42 yards on 20 carries. In his three games against the Bears, Lynch has 88 yards on 41 carries for a 2.1-yard average.
But Lynch is third in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,051, and he remains the No. 1 concern of the Bears’ defense, even though 5-foot-11 rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has exceeded expectations.
“It’s important for us to, (No.) 1, stop the run (because) that’s what they do the best,” said linebacker Lance Briggs, who was back on the practice field Thursday and said he intends to play on an injured ankle Sunday. “And (No.) 2, we have to get pressure on the quarterback, keep him in the pocket and force those balls to come out early.
“We have a great defensive backfield, and if those balls are anywhere near where our defensive backs are, they’re going to make them pay.”
Wilson’s 93.9 passer rating is 12th in the NFL, and he’s thrown just 8 interceptions while tossing 17 TD passes. But the Bears lead the NFL with 33 takeaways and 20 interceptions.
As for Lynch, the Bears are familiar with defending elite running backs, having faced the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, the 49ers’ Frank Gore, the Texans’ Arian Foster and the Titans’ Chris Johnson the past four weeks.
“He’s a hard running back to tackle,” Urlacher said. “He likes to get downhill, he makes guys miss, and he’s got great speed, so it will be a big challenge for us.”
Peterson rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries last week, Gore had 78 yards on 17 attempts, and Foster rolled up 102 yards, but he required 29 carries to get there.
Chris Johnson gashed the Bears for 141 yards on just 16 attempts, but 80 yards came on a meaningless TD when the Bears led 51-12.
“He’s a lot like Adrian,” Bears linebacker Nick Roach said of Lynch.
“He runs hard, and he’s not easy to bring down. So we’ve just got to get a lot of guys to him and make sure to wrap him up.”
Maybe then the Bears can regain their homefield edge against a team they could wind up seeing again in the postseason.
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