Countdown to kickoff: Steelers at Seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)
Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015
CenturyLink Field
4:25 p.m.

Here is a look at the statistical leaders for the both the Steelers and Seahawks heading into the Week 12 contest at CenturyLink Field.

SERIES HISTORY:** 8-8 (Steelers lead, 1-0, postseason).LAST MEETING: Steelers 24, Seahawks 0, Sept. 18, 2011, Heinz Field: The Steelers allowed just 164 total net yards (133 passing, 31 rushing) and registered five sacks while posting their first shutout since 2008 and their second consecutive blanking of Seattle at Heinz (2007). WR Mike Wallace tied his career high with eight catches for 126 yards (the second-highest figure in Wallace's career) and a touchdown and surpassed 100 yards receiving for the fifth consecutive regular-season game. The Steelers held the ball for 38:44.

LAST TIME OUT:The Seahawks outgained the 49ers 508-306 and won, 29-13, at home. The Steelers beat Cleveland, 30-9, on Nov. 15 at Heinz prior to last weekend's bye.

WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL:They'll attempt to run it and work the play-action game after establishing the run and, if all else fails, rely on QB Russell Wilson's ingenuity.

Seattle has rushed for over 100 yards as a team in an NFL-best 21 consecutive games and had no trouble doing so without RB Marshawn Lynch against San Francisco. Replacement RB Thomas Rawls (undrafted rookie, Central Michigan) ran for 209 against the 49ers and finished with 255 yards from scrimmage and a pair of TDs (one rushing, one receiving). At 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Rawls can run through would-be tacklers or make them miss. Wilson contributes significantly to the running game when he isn't throwing it (385 yards and a 5.3 average), especially after escaping pressure.

TE Jimmy Graham has been a contributor (44 catches, 530 yards, two TDs) but hasn't been featured in the passing game. Doug Baldwin is the most relied upon WR (44-539-3), especially when Wilson is scrambling. Wilson has been sacked 35 times this season and 121 times over the past three seasons, but some of that is interpreted as the cost of doing business for a team as determined to get the ball down the field as the Seahawks are on occasion. WR Tyler Lockett (15.3 yards per catch on 25 receptions) is the vertical threat.


WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL: ** They'll need to establish the run before worrying about how to deal with the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" back end. Seattle is No. 2 in total defense, No. 10 in rushing defense, No. 2 in passing defense and No. 7 in scoring defense and the Seahawks are all of those things for a reason.

In passing situations the Seahawks like to unleash DE Michael Bennett, DE Cliff Avril (those two have combined for 13 sacks and 34 quarterback hits), DT Jordan Hill and OLB Bruce Irvin as a four-man pass rush. With Irvin out last Sunday against San Francisco (knee), Seattle turned to OLB Mike Morgan in the base defense and either DE Cassius Marsh or rookie DE Frank Clark in passing situations. The Seahawks count on their four-man pressures getting home and rarely blitz.

The secondary normally relies on Cover 2 or Cover 3 with FS Earl Thomas operating as the centerfielder in either instance. Cover 3 frees CB Richard Sherman up to find the football more often, and he's good at that. Sherman leads the NFL in interceptions (24) and passes defensed (2011). He may or may not cover the other team's best receiver but he'll be around the ball. And SS Kam Chancellor will play like a linebacker no matter where he's stationed.SPECIAL-TEAMS HEADLINERS:Seattle K Steven Hauschka, 21-for-22 on field goals this season, is the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history (150-for-173, 86.7 percent). Lockett, a rookie third-round pick from Kansas State, has a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown. He also had one of each in the preseason.THE X-FACTOR:The Steelers have five players who have played at CenturyLink (QB Mike Vick, CB William Gay, S Will Allen and RBs Jordan Todman and Isaiah Pead)*and none of them have done so as Steelers. *The Seahawks are 76-33 at home since moving to the NFC in 2002 and opponents have been flagged for 147 false starts in 85 games since 2005. This is a different venue. It'll be packed with the self-proclaimed loudest fans in the NFL. How will the Steelers handle the environment, especially the noise?

THEY SAID IT:"We're a team on the rise. We're starting to find our identity. It's just fun around this time of the year. Some teams, they fold, and some teams turn it up a notch. I feel like we're a team on the rise. We have play-makers all over the field. We're really starting to come into our own." _ Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert * *     

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