The Seattle Seahawks survived Week 1 with a much closer than expected victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Now they travel east for a more challenging opponent – the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger will always have a significant place in Seahawks history as one of the 12th Man’s most despised opponents. It was against Roethlisberger and the Steelers Seattle lost its first Super Bowl – the wildly controversial Super Bowl XL.
In addition to the questionable officiating, what rubs salt further in the wounds of Seahawks fans is the fact Pittsburgh won despite Roethlisberger having the worst performance of any Super Bowl winning quarterback. He finished the game completing only 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards, two interceptions, no touchdowns and a passer rating of 22.6.
However, the times certainly have changed since the 2005 season. Roethlisberger has evolved from a glorified game manager into one of the best passers of a generation. Last year he had one of the best seasons of his career by passing for 5,129 yards and 34 touchdowns – both career highs.
However, 2019 already looks like it is a season of serious adjustment for Roethlisberger. It will be the first season since 2013 without either superstar running back Le’Veon Bell or superstar receiver Antonio Brown. This was evident on Sunday Night Football against the Patriots when the Steelers were held to only 3 points and Roethlisberger had 20 incompletions.
Although it should be noted this was against New England, who could very well have the best defense in the league. The Seahawks secondary is nowhere near as talented or deep, as they were just carved up by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for 418 yards.
This will be the first time since 2015 the Seahawks will be forced to defend Roethlisberger, and it’s not as if they were very stout against him then. With a fully healthy, original Legion of Boom playing, Roethlisberger passed for 456 yards as he led the Steelers to 538 yards of offense – both of which are records for yardage earned against the Seattle Seahawks in their franchise history.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is well aware of what kind of challenge Roethlisberger presents and spoke about it at length on Wednesday’s press conference.
“There’s nobody like him,” Carroll said Wednesday. “He’s so resourceful and so competitive and so talented too and just so unique that we know what we are up against. We know what we’re playing against. It’s trying to find a way to stop him. What he’s done remarkable for years and years is to get out of trouble and find a receiver or find the second or third choice and make something happen and really just break your back with big plays in that fashion.”
The Seahawks had better study up on what went wrong in the pass defense against the Bengals and make the adjustments, or Roethlisberger – even without players like Brown or Bell – will be more than capable to pick apart Seattle’s defense.