Seahawks face challenge in Brandon Jacobs

Seahawks face challenge in Brandon Jacobs
Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Rob Sims (67) runs through plays as the NFL football team opened minicamp in Kirkland, Wash., on Friday, May 2, 2008.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Lofa Tatupu was trying to remember the game plan from two years ago when the Seattle Seahawks last faced the New York Giants.

Tiki Barber? Now working in television. Jeremy Shockey? Playing in New Orleans. Plaxico Burress? A suspended spectator this week.

"I can't believe all of them are gone," Tatupu said, while noting Burress will be back in a week. "It's almost tougher. You don't know which way they're going to go."

Enter burly Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.

Seattle's run defense has held its own, slowing down San Francisco's Frank Gore and St. Louis' Steven Jackson. Now comes the Seahawks' biggest challenge - the 6-foot-4, 264-pound bulldozer that is Jacobs, the Giants' leading rusher.

"It's a lot of mass coming downhill," Tatupu said.

Seattle's defense has rebounded nicely, slowing down some marquee backs since the season opener at Buffalo when Marshawn Lynch averaged more than four yards per carry.

Gore, who put together a pair of huge games against the Seahawks two seasons ago, was limited to just 61 yards on 19 carries. The problem for Seattle was J.T. O'Sullivan throwing for 321 yards in the 49ers' 33-30 overtime win.

Then, before the bye week, came Seattle's best performance. Jackson was held to just 66 yards on 23 carries, his longest gain a mere eight yards. Much of that was due to Seattle's Leroy Hill, who finished with 11 tackles that day.

The key for the Seahawks was keeping the offensive linemen from getting to the linebackers and allowing Tatupu, Hill and Julian Peterson to plug holes and make stops. Now comes a Giants' offensive line that both Tatupu and Hill note is very good at pushing the defensive line off and getting to the linebackers in a hurry.

"It's going to take good (defensive) line play and (the linebackers) coming downhill, using our hands and coming off blocks," Hill said. "Instead of meeting backs in the hole, we're going to meet (offensive) linemen and have to get to the backs."

The importance of Jacobs was amplified when Giants' coach Tom Coughlin announced that Burress would be suspended for Sunday's game, taking away Eli Manning's favorite target. But Jacobs came up big last year in games where Burress was mostly a non-factor. Three times when Burress was held to three catches or less, Jacobs came through with 100-yard rushing performances.

"You would say you just expect them to pound the ball, but when you've got a quarterback like Eli that's playing the way Eli is now you don't want to take the ball out of his hands too much unless Jacobs is really going good," Tatupu said. "I expect a good balance of run and pass and just see what way they feel like going the first couple of series."

While Jacobs will be the one carrying the load for the Giants, Seattle's defense must also be aware of Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, both of whom will spell Jacobs when he needs a break.

"We've got a task ahead of us," Tatupu said. "It's not going to be easy."