84F Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has stressed the importance of defense from his first day on the job, and having the league's top-ranked unit has brought the franchise to within one victory of its first 4-0 start.
The Houston Texans hope to prevent that from happening on their home field Sunday, but they'll likely have to limit their mistakes against the Seahawks' ball-hawking defense.
Seattle is allowing an NFL-best 241.7 yards per game, and its 10 forced turnovers are tied for second-most. It has given up a league-low 27 points and had three takeaways in last week's 45-17 win over Jacksonville.
Carroll believes there's still room for improvement, though.
"I think it's a good start. Any way you can get to 3-0 that's darn good," Carroll said. "We have obvious areas we have talked about on offense, just to get out of our own way. I don't think we are there yet with being as precise as we will be. Defensively, we're off to a great start. I really like what is going on."
The Seahawks also had four sacks last week and created enough of a cushion to allow starters on both sides of the ball to rest for most of the second half. However, the 265 yards allowed didn't set well with everyone.
"We're disappointed," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "We didn't expect to give up that many yards, that many points. It feels good to get the win, but obviously we wanted to play better."
Backups played the entire fourth quarter when Jacksonville gained 107 yards and scored a touchdown, but safety Kam Chancellor said that's no excuse.
"I still don't feel that happy right now," Chancellor said. "I still think it's too many yards, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard. You can ask anybody that and they'll say the same thing, that's too many yards."
Carroll, though, has been pleased with the takeaways - a point of emphasis he'll continue to stress.
"It's how we want to play," Carroll said. "We want to play taking care of the football and we want to play getting after it. To us, it's the biggest factor that determines winning and losing. That's why it's the No. 1 emphasis in our program, and always will be."
Houston (2-1) boasts the league's second-ranked defensive unit that allows an average of 249.0 yards per game, but it has forced only one turnover while the offense has given up the ball four times.
Matt Schaub was intercepted on the team's first drive for the second time in last Sunday's 30-9 loss to Baltimore and had a pick returned for a touchdown for the second consecutive game.
The Texans also allowed an 82-yard punt return for a score and committed a franchise-record 14 penalties. Coach Gary Kubiak said those types of mishaps can't continue, especially against an opportunistic team like Seattle.
"I don't think we've played a good team game from start to finish," Kubiak said. "We've been inconsistent. We've turned the ball over. It's about consistency and finding a way to make plays.
"The biggest thing is if we're going to put ourselves in those situations, we're going to struggle."
Receiver Andre Johnson is easing his way back to practice after being forced out against the Ravens with a bruised shin. He also suffered a concussion in a 30-24 overtime win over Tennessee the week prior.
"All the X-rays are fine," Kubiak said. "It's just a matter of working him back through it, probably a day-to-day process."
Arian Foster rushed only 12 times for 54 yards last week while Schaub finished 25 of 35 for 194 yards. Houston had 264 total yards after averaging 450.5 over its first two games.
"Somehow we've got to get some consistency, get rid of those mistakes and play the type of football game we want to play," Kubiak said. "We've got to find a way to make some bigger plays than what we're making."
Seattle made plenty while getting out to a 31-0 lead last week. Russell Wilson finished 14 of 21 for 202 yards and four touchdowns in just 2 1/2 quarters, hitting Zach Miller and Sidney Rice for two scores apiece.
The Seahawks finished with 479 total yards after having 290 in a 29-3 win over San Francisco the previous week.
"I'm proud of the offense," Sherman said. "They scored a lot of points. That's what we needed. They needed that for confidence."
Schaub threw for 365 yards and hit Johnson, who finished with 11 catches for 193 yards, for two touchdowns in a 34-7 victory over Seattle in the most recent meeting Dec. 13, 2009.