Seattle is off to the best start in franchise history at 7-1 and will be playing on a short week Sunday afternoon. The Seahawks won their third straight game and remained ahead of San Francisco (6-2) for first in the NFC West with Monday's 14-9 win at St. Louis.
It wasn't pretty, but Pete Carroll's bunch pulled through and relied heavily on its tough defense. The Seahawks were simply stagnant on offense, racking up only 135 total yards, as running back Marshawn Lynch was held to a season-low 23 yards on eight touches and quarterback Russell Wilson completed 10-of-18 passes for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wilson was sacked seven times.
"We're very fortunate to get out get out of here tonight (with a win)," Carroll said. "The Rams played a great football game and did a lot of good stuff ... ran the ball right down our throat. "We just couldn't get going as an offense. Fortunately our defense hung together and gave us a chance to win the game."
The Rams were forced to start veteran backup QB Kellen Clemens, who replaced the injured Sam Bradford, and opened a late drive from their own 3-yard line with 5:42 to play. Clemens led St. Louis down to the Seattle 1-yard line. Rams running back Daryl Richardson was stopped on third down, and Clemens followed with an incomplete pass to Brian Quick as time expired.
"This is the most physical game I've ever played," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said after leading the defense with a game-high 10 tackles. "I'm mentally tired, I'm mentally drained and I'm physically drained.
"But I'd rather be that way with a win than a loss."
Seattle has struggled against the run this season and allowed 200 yards on the ground to the Rams. The Seahawks are 15th against the rush (105.1), but second in yards allowed (289.2) and third in both pass defense (184.1) and points allowed (15.6). Outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman said Monday's game proves that the Seahawks can "win ugly ball games" and that "championship teams are able to win the ugly games."
The Seahawks hope their offense is more attractive back at home, where it's known to be loud and exhausting on opposing teams. They have won 11 in a row at home, last losing in the Emerald City on Dec. 24, 2011 versus the 49ers.
Tampa Bay has lost all three of its road games this season, but is unbeaten in the past three matchups with Seattle, which is 7-4 in the all-time series. The Bucs won the previous encounter, 38-15, on Dec. 26, 2010.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Don't expect to see Lynch bottled up again after his below-average performance Monday night. Lynch, a typically hard runner who can break tackles, had only eight carries against the Rams -- his lowest total since an eight-carry game Oct. 2, 2011 versus Atlanta.
Lynch is 10th in the NFL with 601 rushing yards and tied for third with six rushing touchdowns. Tampa Bay rarely allows a 100-yard rusher, but Eagles running back LeSean McCoy posted 116 yards on 25 carries back on Oct. 13. The Bucs haven't been able to keep teams off the scoreboard, however, and have allowed 31 points in each of the past three games.
Wilson attempted only 18 passes in St. Louis and was not intercepted for a third straight game. Wilson will look to take advantage of a possibly depleted Tampa Bay secondary, which hopes to get Goldson back Sunday.
The Seahawks have one of the top defenses in the league and will try to pressure Bucs QB Mike Glennon into making mistakes. It will be difficult for Glennon to connect with Jackson because he's the only true receiving threat the Bucs have with Williams on injured reserve. It's hard to imagine Underwood or Owusu making an impact in the aerial attack against the likes of Sherman, Thomas and safety Kam Chancellor.
Former Buccaneer and current Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett didn't have kind words toward Schiano when asked about the atmosphere under the former Rutgers head coach.
"I think he just wants to flex his power," Bennett told NFL Media columnist Michael Silver. "He has small (man's) syndrome. I still talk to guys who are there, and trust me, there's not much respect for him in that locker room."
So don't look for a hearty handshake between Schiano and Bennett afterward. Don't look for Seahawks receiver Golden Tate, who had an 80-yard score Monday, to showboat like he did against the Rams either. Also, Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Monday's win. Rice is tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions (3) and ranks third among Seattle players in catches (15) and receiving yards (231).
Seattle is expected to get back wide receiver Percy Harvin in the coming weeks, though it is unsure if he will play in Week 9. Harvin has yet to play this season as he continues his recovery from hip surgery.
This game won't even be close. As Sherman said earlier about winning ugly and how important it is to do in this league, Sunday's game will be ugly for the Buccaneers and Schiano could be on his way out by Tuesday.
Newswire services across the globe should have that story in the holster because the Seattle offense will get back to form behind Lynch and Wilson, and send the Bucs across the country with an 0-8 record. The Bucs will find out soon enough how difficult it is to play in the Pacific Northwest, especially with a depleted offense and a rookie quarterback.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 34, Bucs 14