Will Seahawks' defense dominate?

Best defense faces best offense: Mebane leads top-ranked defense, pays homage to Cortez Kennedy, prepares for No. 1 Patriots

Staff writerOctober 14, 2012 

With the Seattle Seahawks retiring Cortez Kennedy’s No. 96 at halftime of this afternoon’s game against New England at CenturyLink Field, it’s only appropriate that another Seattle defensive lineman’s performance evokes memories of this organization’s most recent inductee to the Hall of Fame.

Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane’s play in the middle of Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense is one of the reasons the Seahawks have been one of the best run-stuffing units in the league.

Mebane is fifth on the team in tackles with 18, and third on the team in sacks (two).

Since 2011, Mebane has 74 combined tackles, which is third-most for interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

“The Seahawks defensive tackle turned in one of the most dominant defensive performances I’ve ever seen against the Rams on Sunday,” former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman said about Mebane’s performance against St. Louis two weeks ago. “This comes from someone who had a front-row seat for Cortez Kennedy’s Hall of Fame career.”

Asked about that comment, the low-key Mebane took it in stride.

“Cortez obviously is a Hall of Famer,” Mebane said. “And he’s one of the best that came through this organization, so it was good comment. But I still have to go out there and play.

“You hear good things, you hear bad things. And you take it all into consideration. I’m just thankful to have this opportunity to even have a job.”

Mebane talks with Kennedy regularly, but that those conversations are more about football than life.

“I talk to ’Tez quite a bit,” Mebane said. “Cortez really just tells me basic things. He really just tells me to go out there and play football. He shows me a few techniques and things, but mainly he just tells me to go out there and play. Use your techniques, read your keys and go play.”

And as far as his play on the field, Mebane gives a lot of the credit to another season in the system set up by defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and head coach Pete Carroll, including being surrounded by talented players such as defensive ends Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Bruce Irvin, along with defensive tackles Alan Branch, Jason Jones and Clinton McDonald.

“I just thank God that I’m healthy to play,” Mebane said. “And our defensive line, they all bring special things to the table. And when you have a certain amount of a group on your line, and you know what they’re capable of, you see it and react to it. We don’t really worry; we just go out and play.

“We’re all becoming better students of the game. We see things on film. We see things in the game, and we go to the sidelines and correct them. And we get better as the game goes, too.”

The Seahawks will have to elevate their level of play when they take on the Patriots’ No. 1-ranked, no-huddle offense, led by one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game in Tom Brady.

Most national prognosticators are picking the Patriots to win, even though both teams are 3-2 and New England is the road team.

To Mebane, that’s part of the deal when you live in the upper, left-hand corner of the country and your franchise has yet to win a Super Bowl.

“They’re going to come out and do what they do, so all we can do is get ready for it,” Mebane said. “If you really look at it, they’re supposed to pick New England because he (Brady) has three Super Bowl rings. If a person really doesn’t understand football, and they just look at their organization, and they see the rings and the Super Bowls, they’re going to pick that team.

“Just being on the West Coast for so long, you’re never going to get no love on the West Coast. It is what it is. You just have to go out there and play, and prove them wrong.”

SEAHAWKS GAMEDAY

NEW ENGLAND (3-2) AT SEATTLE (3-2)

1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field

TV: Ch. 7. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.

The series: This is the 16th meeting between the teams. The Patriots own an 8-7 edge over the Seahawks. Seattle has won five of the past seven contests, but New England took the last meeting, 24-21, at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 7, 2008 – Mike Holmgren’s last season coaching in Seattle.

What to watch: Seattle center Max Unger (hip) did not practice until Friday, but he is probable for today’s game. If Unger cannot make it, Lemuel Jeanpierre will take his spot. Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) is probable for today. … New England tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) did not practice on Friday, but did travel with the team and is questionable to play for the first time in a month. ... New England QB Tom Brady will play for the first time at CenturyLink Field. In his 13th season, Brady is third in the league in passer rating (102.8), seventh in total passing yards (1,450), seventh in completion percentage (67.0) and tied for ninth in touchdowns (8). Brady has thrown one interception this year. … New England receivers Julian Edelman (hand) and Dont’a Hightower (hamstring) are out.

The pick: Seahawks, 22-19

PRIME NUMBERS

SEATTLE

No.Name (position)Ht./Wt./Year

24Marshawn Lynch (RB)5-11/215/sixth

Lynch will have to carry the ball at least 25 times to help control the tempo of the game and keep the ball away from Tom Brady.

33Leon Washington (RB)5-8/203/seventh

Florida State product should have some opportunities to make plays in kicking game.

79Red Bryant (DE)6-4/323/fifth

He’ll have to play more snaps because of New England’s no-huddle offense, and needs to generate a consistent pass rush.

50K.J. Wright (LB)6-4/246/second

The Mississippi State grad might have the toughest matchup on the field, keeping up with talented New England tight end Rob Gronkowski.

New England

No.Name (position)Ht./Wt./Year

12Tom Brady (QB)6-4/225/13th

He is the engine that drives New England’s offense, but he’s been sacked 12 times and could turn the ball over if pressured.

83Wes Welker (WR)5-9/185/ninth

Expect Brady to go to his favorite receiver early and often as the Patriots try to attack Seattle’s defense in the middle of the field.

55Brandon Spikes (LB)6-2/255/third

The University of Florida product should have a few memorable collisions with Marshawn Lynch in the middle of the field.

32Devin McCourty (DB)5-10/195/third

He has two interceptions this season and makes plays – but also gives up big plays.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/ Eric D. Williams, staff writer

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