Earl Thomas' home of Orange, Texas is maybe an hour and 25 minutes from Houston. And as might be expected, the Seahawks safety says a healthy contingent of family and friends will attend Sunday’s game against the Texans.
He just didn’t want to hear about it during the week.
“I told them ‘don’t call my phone this week,’ ” he said. “I’ve got someone handling my ticket situations. I don’t need any distractions.”
Thomas and the rest of the Seahawks have proved they are good at taking such a business-like approach to things, walloping undermanned Jacksonville 45-17 last week when many wondered if they might be prone to a letdown.
This is a game, though, that figures to require a lot more attention to detail, as the Seahawks travel to play a Texans team that entered the season harboring thoughts of the Super Bowl.
And they’ll do so with a remade offensive line, with left tackle Russell Okung missing his second of at least eight games with a toe injury, and right tackle Breno Giacomini (knee) and center Max Unger (triceps) listed as doubtful.
That will make it even more of a challenge for the Seattle offense to move consistently against a Texans defense that is as aggressive as any in the NFL and comes into the game having allowed the second-fewest yards in the league (747).
The only team to allow fewer? The Seahawks, with 725.
And with the offense shorthanded, Seattle’s hopes of improving to 4-0 for the first time in its history may well rest on the broad shoulders of the defense.
It’s a defense that not only never shies away from a challenge, but is more than happy to seek one out. Last week, a few defenders grumbled at the way the Jaguars game ended, with Jacksonville piling up what they felt were a few too many garbage-time yards and points. The secondary, in particular, wasn’t happy that the Jags finished with 235 passing yards.
“That’s the kind of standard that we have in our room,’’ said cornerback Richard Sherman. “We would hope to hold people under 100 yards and anything over that is kind of a disappointment for us in our room.”
Anything close to that this week against Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, who is averaging 259.7 passing yards per game (many going to standout veteran receiver Andre Johnson, who has 258 yards for the season) would go a long way toward helping the Seahawks win. Even more important might be forcing another handful of turnovers against a Houston team that enters the game minus-three in that category — Schaub has thrown four interceptions in three games.
Seattle, meanwhile, is plus-six in turnovers and 20-3 under coach Pete Carroll when getting more turnovers than its opponent.
The Seahawks’ starting defense has given up only one touchdown drive in three games — Jacksonville had a 2-yard drive following a turnover and a longer march against the reserves.
Seattle’s front seven, though, will be put to a stiff test in this one, asked to contain Houston’s two-headed running monster of Arian Foster (190 yards) and Ben Tate (186) and a Texans team averaging 4.9 yards per carry overall.
This Seahawks team, though, has usually proven up to the task. Seattle has now won eight regular-season games in a row.
The game marks the sixth time Seattle has had a chance to start a season 4-0.
“It would be huge for us to get to 4-0,” said defensive end Cliff Avril.