Seahawks to be tested trying to establish run against tough Ravens
Listed at 330 pounds, Haloti Ngata is truly the biggest obstacle the Seahawks will face, an absolute mountain of a defensive lineman who will be standing between Seattle and its continued progress in the rushing game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
It's tough enough just getting your arms around the challenge that will be standing in front of Seattle's offensive line Sunday.
Now try moving Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata out of the way.
"It's like trying to move a tractor," coach Pete Carroll said. "It's hard to get that thing going."
Baltimore's defense presents a number of difficulties from a pass rusher like Terrell Suggs, who has six sacks, to the tenured bone cruncher Ray Lewis to sticky-fingered safety Ed Reed, who has intercepted 29 passes since the 2007 season began.
But listed at 330 pounds, Ngata is truly the biggest obstacle the Seahawks will face, an absolute mountain of a defensive lineman who will be standing between Seattle and its continued progress in the rushing game.
The Seahawks actually are entering this game with some momentum running the ball, something that has been very rare the past couple of years. Seattle rushed for 162 yards against Dallas, which has a defense that had allowed only one opponent to rush for more than 101 yards before facing the Seahawks.
Baltimore is a whole different level. This is a defense that annually ranks among the league's most formidable against the run.
"This would be very significant for us as we grow," Carroll said. "We've been looking for these matchups with our young guys, finding ways that we can point out to them to build their confidence. This would be one of those opportunities."
Easy for him to say. He's not going to have to go out and block Ngata. That job is going to fall to the middle of Seattle's offensive line that includes a rookie in guard John Moffitt, a veteran in Robert Gallery and a center in Max Unger who's already plenty familiar with just how good Ngata is.
"He just doesn't get moved," Unger said.
Ngata enrolled at Oregon in 2002 as one of the most heralded recruits in the country, starting as a freshman on the defensive line. Unger was at Oregon during Ngata's final two seasons before Ngata entered the draft and became a first-round choice.
There was an Olympic weightlifting competition held on Oregon's campus. That's a specialty sport where big men don't just train year round, but groom themselves for decades. Unger remembers Ngata winning the clean-and-jerk competition in 2005.
"Haloti was the man the second he got on the campus at University of Oregon," Unger said. "He was the business."
He still is. He has been to two Pro Bowls and was a starter last season, and he is the reason Baltimore's defense is so unique. He's an anchor in the middle in a way that very few defensive tackles can be.
"In my mind, he is the best defensive tackle in football," Unger said.
And someone Seattle can't run directly at. At least not if the Seahawks expect to have success on the ground Sunday.
"We've got to try to get them moving," Carroll said, "get away from them, cut away from them and use their momentum."
The Seahawks aren't going to outmuscle Baltimore. Not with Ngata in the middle.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil
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