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Steelers vs. Seahawks: 3 lessons learned from Seattle’s 39-30 win

John Froschauer - Associated Press

Despite struggling for much of the season, the Seattle Seahawks regained a playoff position with a wild 39-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

The Seahawks improved to 6-5 on the season and moved past the Atlanta Falcons for the sixth seed in the NFC based on current tiebreakers. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 456 yards, a record for an opposing quarterback against Seattle, but the Seahawks pulled out the win with their best offensive performance of the year.

Seattle’s win came at a price, as tight end Jimmy Graham will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Still, with the offensive line playing much better, the Seahawks are a dangerous team moving forward.

A difficult and crucial game awaits next week in Minnesota, but the Seahawks have to be thrilled with an impressive victory over a tough opponent.

Starting DeShawn Shead over Cary Williams was the right move

Despite the franchise record for passing yards allowed, Seattle did have some positives in the secondary. Shead turned in a solid performance in his first start of the season and should retain the role of No. 2 corner moving forward.

Williams struggled for most of the season and represented a definite weak spot in the secondary. That resulted in a benching last weekend, with Shead taking over against the lethal Pittsburgh passing offense.

Shead responded well and had a good game against an excellent receiver in Martavis Bryant, including a key breakup on a deep ball that may have won the game for Pittsburgh late. There is still a lot of work to be done, but Shead’s presence should be an upgrade for the rest of the season.

The same issues persist in the secondary

Shead played well for the most part and Richard Sherman turned in his best game of the season by shutting down Antonio Brown. Still, the secondary was torched once again, and remains a huge concern for Seattle’s playoff push.

Rather than Brown or Bryant, it was Markus Wheaton that gave the Seahawks the most trouble on Sunday. Jeremy Lane should get better in the coming weeks, but really struggled at the nickel corner position in his first game since suffering a horrific injury in the Super Bowl.

Seattle had problems with the middle of the field again, and has not been able to cover tight ends all season long. If the Seahawks are going to make the playoffs and do some damage, some of that needs to be cleaned up.

Seattle will have to find a way to win more shootouts like this

It’s become clear that this is not the same Seahawks’ defense as we’ve seen over the past two years. That means Seattle will have to win games with its offense, along with some timely turnovers.

That seemed like a tall order prior to the past two weeks, as the Seattle offense was really struggling. However, the Seahawks have plenty of positives to take away from this game offensively, even while losing Graham.

The improvement starts with the offensive line, which has done a much better job of protecting Wilson recently. Thomas Rawls has also rejuvenated the run game, while Doug Baldwin is providing a reliable target for Wilson.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.
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