Seattle - Here's the bad news for the Seattle Seahawks as they try to improve on their 3-0 record at Qwest Field this season - they are facing one of the NFL's better quarterbacks in the New York Giants' Eli Manning at a time when he's playing well.
Manning, younger brother of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, is among the NFL leaders in passing yards (1,785) and touchdowns (14), and has completed 65 percent of his passes in compiling an 88.3 passer rating.
With players such as running back Tiki Barber, receiver Plaxico Buress and tight end Jeremy Shockey gone, the offense is now fully under the direction of Manning, a seventh-year pro out of Ole Miss.
And he has benefitted from having the same offensive coordinator – Kevin Gilbride – around for his entire tenure with the Giants.
“I feel very confident in what we’re doing, that I can coach up some of the players and receivers and tight ends and whatnot on what’s going on, how they need to run certain routes,” Manning said. “So it’s about kind of getting everybody around you to raise their level of play and understand their potential and understand how this offense works, kind of learning it in and out, and that will help out everybody.”
The Giants are on a four-game winning streak, and their ability to score has been at the forefront of that streak. New York is No. 3 in total offense, and is proficient at passing the ball (243.3 yards a game, eighth in the NFL) as well as running it (145.4-yard average, fourth).
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is an explosive back who can create back-breaking plays by cutting back against the defense for big gains. Bradshaw is the No. 4 rusher in the league with 708 yards and five touchdowns, averaging more than 5 yards a carry.
“He’ll start one way, and then change direction and come all the way back,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of Bradshaw. “He can cut on a dime, so we’ve been preaching to our guys that you really have to understand leverage this week.”
And Manning has hooked up with young receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks for several big gains in the passing game. The Giants have 17 pass plays of 25 yards or more, tied for third most in the league.
“Part of the reason we’re also amongst the leaders in big pass plays is because we’re aggressive and we throw the ball down the field,” Manning said. “I have great faith in my receivers, you know. They make plays for me.”
As good as the Giants are on offense, there is some good news for the Seahawks – turnovers.
The Giants have committed 21 turnovers on offense, third most in the league behind Carolina and Arizona. Even better for Seattle, the Giants’ defense has allowed 58 points following turnovers, so opposing offenses have been cashing in.
Manning is responsible for 15 turnovers so far, tied with Minnesota’s Brett Favre for most in the league, including 11 interceptions. Manning was picked off three times the last time the Giants played at Qwest Field in Seattle’s 42-30 win in 2006.
“We’ve been kind of handicapped with some turnovers and some tipped balls and part of it is on me,” Manning said. “I’ve got to get the ball down and make sure I’m not throwing it high over the middle because if it does get tipped up the chance is there’s going to be someone around.”
Want more reasons to like Seattle’s chances? The Giants are 6-15 coming off bye weeks and haven’t won in Seattle since 1981.
Of course, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll understands those things don’t mean a whole lot once the teams hit the field today.
“It starts with the running game,” Carroll said, “and if we can control the running game more that helps us. They don’t want that to happen and they’re going to do everything they can to not let that happen, and (Manning) will throw accordingly. This is a really good football team and he is a big centerpiece in it in that he can throw the ball and do all the stuff they need.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks
N.Y. GIANTS (5-2) AT SEATTLE (4-3)
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m., Qwest Field
TV: Ch. 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: The teams meet for the 14th time, with the Giants holding an 8-5 edge. But Seattle has won the past two at Qwest Field, including a 24-21 overtime victory on Nov. 27, 2005, when kicker Jay Feely missed three field goals, and a 42-30 win on Sept. 24, 2006, when Matt Hasselbeck threw five touchdown passes.
What to watch: Seattle Seahawks signed quarterback Zac Robinson from the practice squad to the active roster. And because of the injury issues on the offensive line, the Seahawks also signed offensive tackle Breno Giacomini to the active roster. To make room, the Seahawks released wide receiver Ruvell Martin and center Chris White, who were added to the team this week. Robinson will serve as the backup quarterback behind Charlie Whitehurst, who is getting his first career start because starter Matt Hasselbeck has been ruled out because of concussion symptoms. Offensive tackle Russell Okung (ankle) is doubtful, and Tyler Polumbus (knee) likely will serve as an emergency backup, so veteran Chester Pitts will start at left tackle. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf) will be a game-time decision. If Mebane can’t go, Craig Terrill will start. Receiver Mike Williams (knee) also will be a game-time decision but should play. Golden Tate (ankle) and Colin Cole (ankle) have been ruled out.
OUR pick: Giants, 21-17.
Eric D. Williams, staff writer