September 20, 2018 / 4:34 PM / 3 months ago

Seahawks focus on protecting QB Wilson from Cowboys

After getting run over on the road by Denver’s Von Miller and Chicago’s Khalil Mack, the Seattle Seahawks’ struggling offensive line will not catch a break at home this Sunday against DeMarcus Lawrence and the Dallas Cowboys.

Sep 17, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) reacts after throwing an interception against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle (0-2) surrendered a league-worst 12 sacks, six each by the Broncos and the Bears, in two games.

“We’re not together yet,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of his offensive line after Monday’s loss to the Bears. “We’ve seen some fantastic rushers and we have not been able to keep them from being effective. The last two kids we saw [Miller and Mack] might be the best two we’ll see all year long.”

Dallas (1-1) is bringing a defense to CenturyLink Field that ranks second in the NFL in sacks, third in scoring defense, fourth in total defense and fifth in passing defense. The Cowboys held the Panthers’ Cam Newton to 161 passing yards and zero touchdown passes, and limited Giants rookie Saquon Barkley to 28 rushing yards on 11 carries.

Eight Cowboys have already registered at least one sack, including two by Lawrence. Six different players took down New York’s Eli Manning, the most Dallas players with sacks in the same game since 1997.

Lawrence was one of the league’s most improved players in 2017, finishing tied for second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks. He has 25.5 career sacks in 50 games, third most in franchise history through a player’s first 50 games behind DeMarcus Ware (35.5) and Jim Jeffcoat (28.5).

“The boys put in work,” Lawrence said after the win against New York. “I’m just very proud to see all my guys come out of the game with a sack. It’s looking uphill, but we can’t just sit here and get satisfied off of sacking Eli. We’ve gotta do it again and go sack Russell.”

Wilson’s line hasn’t offered much protection so far.

Anchored by 33-year-old left tackle Duane Brown, the Seahawks have allowed six or more sacks in back-to-back games for the first time since 2001. Seattle has never given up six-plus sacks in three straight contests (per Pro-Football-Reference.com).

With Wilson forced to scramble, the offense is sputtering. Playing without leading receiver Doug Baldwin (knee) and right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring), Seattle ranks 27th in total offense and 29th in rushing.

Fluker, a 2013 first-round pick of the Chargers, practiced Wednesday and is on track to make his Seattle debut in Sunday’s home opener. Starting center Justin Britt is day-to-day with a sore shoulder. On the defensive side, linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) did not practice Wednesday and will likely miss his third straight game. Carroll said linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Tre Flowers both practiced and will play Sunday.

On the Dallas injury watch, defensive tackle Maliek Collins is questionable with a sprained knee. Defensive end Randy Gregory (concussion) and safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) both returned to practice Wednesday “in a limited fashion,” according to coach Jason Garrett.

The Seahawks have won three of the last four meetings with the Cowboys, including 21-12 in Arlington in Week 16 last year. Defense was the story for both sides that day. Seattle intercepted Dak Prescott twice, sacked him four times and allowed only four Dan Bailey field goals — two from 51 yards. Dallas held the Seahawks to 136 total yards, including a career-low 93 passing yards by Wilson.

—Field Level Media

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