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Shutdown Corner

Seahawks’ offensive line might be only thing that keeps them from winning Super Bowl

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

When you have a first-class defense that can hold an NFL team to fewer than 100 yards through three quarters on their home field, you have a good chance.

When you have a first-rate quarterback who wears down defenses mentally and physically with his athletic, gutsy style, you have a great chance.

Throw in just enough playmakers, including a workhorse running back, and terrific special teams, and you have a Super Bowl-winning formula.

But there's a problem: You must be able to block. Right now, the Seahawks struggle in that department.

Russell Wilson displayed an uncanny ability to make plays in the Seattle Seahawks' 34-22 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, and he threw for 235 yards and three TDs. But he also was sacked three times in 32 dropbacks, hit an unacceptable nine times and stripped twice of the ball.

On one of the sacks, Wilson held the ball too long. But most of the night, the Seahawks' offensive line — down both of its starting tackles to injury — was beaten by the Cardinals' playoff-caliber (and that's about the only unit on the team that is) front seven time after time by quickness, leverage and power.

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On top of that, they lost left guard James Carpenter, maybe the best of the remaining bunch, to injury in the game, but he came back later. There is hope that left tackle Russell Okung can come off the short-term injured reserve in five or six games, and right tackle Breno Giacomeni should be back well before that.

They need to hurry up. Replacement right tackle Michael Bowie, a seventh-rounder this year, had a horrible game, beaten several times and called for a penalty that almost cost the Seahawks points. Paul McQuistan was beaten by Cardinals defensive end John Abraham for a strip sack and otherwise didn't acquit himself all that well. Lemuel Jeanpierre, if he has to play, appears to be a sub-adequate performer. Max Unger is an anchor inside, but the other performers are nothing special at all and could lose key point-of-attack battles when the weather gets colder and the competition gets better.

Everything else is there for a championship formula. It was all on display in Thursday night's victory, which was close on the scoreboard — mostly because of the two strip sacks — but not to the eyeball, or by any other metric. Consider, too, that they are without linebacker Bobby Wagner and receiver-returner Percy Harvin, who are expected to come back soon as well.

The Seahawks have something special going. When Wilson is dialed in, he's as maddening to defend as almost any quarterback out there. When he can make plays like the third-down throw to Zach Miller while being tackled, Wilson is as good as there is in the NFL.

And if the Seahawks have a lead, watch out: That's when the defense starts taking chances, and Marshawn Lynch inflicts his will on the other side of the ball.

But if that line doesn't get healthy, and better once the starters return, the Seahawks will not win a Super Bowl — home-field advantage in the postseason, or not. It's that simple.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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