(Sports Network) - There are steps in the development of any young
Rookies Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill will continue those steps on Sunday
when Wilson's Seahawks travel to South Florida to take on Tannehill and the
slumping Miami Dolphins.
For Wilson it's all about proving he can get it done of the road while
Tannehill is attempting to break down a rookie wall which has resulted in a
three-game losing streak for the Fish.
As an undersized third round draft pick Wilson has been one of the NFL's most
intriguing stories this season. The 5-foot-11 signal-caller has the Seahawks
in the thick of the NFC playoff race and within earshot of the San Francisco
49ers in the NFC West.
But most of the rookie's success has come in the Emerald City. Wilson is 5-0
in Seattle with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions versus 1-4 with just four
touchdowns and eight picks in his five chances as the visitor.
Seattle had plenty of time to get ready for this encounter, last playing on
Nov. 11 when Wilson threw for two touchdowns and Marshawn Lynch ran for 124
yards and a score, as the Seahawks dispatched the New York Jets, 28-7, to
stay undefeated at home.
Wilson completed an efficient 12-of-19 passes for 188 yards against the Jets
and Golden Tate caught a score and threw for another as Seattle strung
together back-to-back wins heading into its bye week and improved to 6-4 for
the first time since its last 10-win season back in 2007.
"Good game for us, a lot of guys played well," said Seahawks coach Pete
Carroll. "We wanted to come into the break with a big push."
Miami, meanwhile, has lost the three straight, the latest of which came on
Nov. 15 when Buffalo's Leodis McKelvin returned a punt 79 yards for a
touchdown, Rian Lindell kicked four field goals and the Bills posted a key
19-14 victory over the Dolphins in a battle between AFC East rivals at Ralph
Tannehill, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft, threw a fourth-quarter
touchdown pass to Davone Bess, but was picked off twice in the game's final
two minutes, sealing the Dolphins' latest setback.
Tannehill threw for just 141 yards while completing half of his 28 passing
attempts although he did break David Woodley's franchise record for most
completions by a rookie with 179.
"It was not a good offensive performance. We had nothing going on," said Miami
coach Joe Philbin.
The Dolphins are 7-3 all-time against Seattle and 5-1 in the Sunshine State.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Wilson needs to figure it out on the road if Seattle plans on a postseason
berth and the good news is the team's four road losses have come by a combined
21 points so they have been competitive.
"(I've been) disappointed in the way we've played on the road that we didn't
find a way to get a couple more of those wins," Carroll said. "We've been in
every one of them. We understand all of that. I think we're getting harder to
Wilson is also 2-0 versus AFC teams this season with five TDs and no
interceptions in those games.
"He's a good football player," Philbin said. "I think he's done a nice job so
far for their team and he's got a very good arm and it looks like he's made
good decisions. Certainly, he's elusive. He's a good football player. Very
As usual the Seahawks will rely on Lynch, who is second in the NFL with 1,005
rushing yards and will be aiming for his fifth straight 100-yard rushing day,
to move the chains and set up play-action for Wilson, who is much more
effective when the opposition has to bring a safety down in the box to deal
with the bruising Lynch.
Wilson's primary receivers, Sidney Rice and Tate, have both turned it up a
notch recently. Rice, a former Pro Bowl selection in Minnesota, has five
touchdown catches in his past five games and Tate has accounted for four TDs
in Seattle's past two contests.
The pass rush will be key for the Dolphins but the run defense must also
tighten up after faltering recently. Miami's Cameron Wake has 9 1/2 sacks over
his past seven games but the opposite side, especially Jared Odrick, has been
far too quiet.
"It's safe to say we'd love to continue to get more pressure and disrupt the
quarterbacks whenever we're playing, but I don't know that if it's solely we
need more pressure out of Jared Odrick," Philbin said.
The Dolphins' run defense has allowed 148.5 over the last two games after
giving up less than 84 per game through their first eight contests.
For Miami on offense it's time for Tannehill to move his chess piece in
response to the opposition's adjustments to him. The Dolphins offense has
mustered just one touchdown over its last 10 quarter and has turned it over
seven times in the previous two games, five on Tannehill interceptions.
"It's really frustrating," said Tannehill. "Especially with some of the
success we had earlier in the year."
Perhaps the biggest problem has been the Dolphins inability to help their
rookie signal-caller with the running game. After a hot start to the season
Reggie Bush has averaged only 3.0 yards a carry in his last six games and
Miami hasn't run for 100 as a team since September. Bush did amass 141
scrimmage yards in his only previous career meeting with Seattle back in 2007,
The Seahawks defense is stout, ranking third in the NFL and allowing just
296.8 yards per game, but Carroll has been preaching getting off the field in
third down situations since Seattle has let opponents convert 40.6 percent of
For as good as we can play on defense at times to be at 40 percent, that's not
good enough for us," Carroll said. "We need to knock that thing down."
It's hard to imagine either team lightning up the scoreboard here.
Wilson hasn't shown anything on the road yet while Tannehill has been
struggling mightily and will be facing off against one of the NFL's best
secondaries. Expect a late Dan Carpenter field goal to get Miami back in the
win column here.
"I haven't slept as well as I'd like to be sleeping (during the losing
streak)," Philbin said. "But at the same time you have to have faith and
belief in something, and we're going to stick to this process that we have in
place. There's a lot of football left to be played and most importantly
excited about this opportunity against Seattle."
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Dolphins 20, Seahawks 17
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