Seattle arguably played their best regular season game in Chicago, beating the Bears 23-20 on October 17. It was one of only two road wins for Seattle and the victory didn’t come from special teams or turnovers.
(In fact, Devin Hester’s punt return touchdown made the game closer than it needed to be.)
ESPN.com’s Mike Sando points out that the Seahawks’ approach in Chicago differs drastically from what they’ve done the last two weeks. Back then, the Bears’ offensive line was in shambles and Seattle attacked.
Sando writes that the Seahawks blitzed 55.3% of the time against the Bears, their second highest number of the year. Seattle rushed at least one defensive back 44.7%, their highest all year. Chicago handled the blitzes terribly, giving up six sacks. The Bears didn’t convert a single third down in the game.
The Seahawks won the last two weeks with a very different approach. The Seahawks blitzed only 10.3% of the time against the Rams and 8.3% of the time against the Saints. Coach Pete Carroll tried to cover up his secondary deficiencies by flooding passing zones with defenders.
Chicago is a very different offense than it was in October. Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest broke down some reasons why earlier this week. It comes down to improved offensive line performance, and a newfound commitment to the running game.
The playoffs are all about adjustments, especially when the two teams played in the regular season.
Carroll must decide if aggressiveness is still Seattle’s best policy.