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Halftime Observations: Steelers 14, Seahawks 0

Missing Russell Wilson and Chris Carson, Seattle produced only six yards of offense in the second quarter and Pittsburgh found a rhythm with two touchdown drives to build a 14-0 advantage at the half.

Struggling in their first look at life without quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks allowed two touchdowns to the Steelers in the second quarter to head into halftime trailing 14-0 on Sunday Night Football.

Here are three quick observations from the first half at Heinz Field:

1. New quarterback, same issues sustaining drives on offense for the Seahawks.

Without Russell Wilson under center, the Seahawks' offense wasn't expected to be as explosive. But many of the same problems that have hindered the group even with their starting quarterback in the lineup resurfaced in the first two quarters. Making his first start since 2017, Geno Smith found himself under constant pressure with All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt swatting away two passes at the line of scrimmage, defensive tackle Casey Heyward engulfing him for an eight-yard sack, and Alex Highsmith later adding a sack of his own after beating Duane Brown around the edge. The veteran signal caller completed eight out of 14 passes, but averaged only a paltry 4.5 yards per attempt and if not for Travis Homer's heroics after a dump off pass for a 27-yard gain, the team would not have converted a single third down. Meanwhile, Alex Collins ran the ball just four times for 19 yards due to quick possessions. As a result, Seattle held the ball for only 9:15 of clock time and ran just 21 offensive plays, including 11 plays for just six net yards in the second quarter, while Pittsburgh more than doubled time of possession with control of the ball for 20:45 on 39 plays.

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2. Different formations and personnel usage played into Seattle's favor through a quarter before old cracks become exposed.

Much like last week against the Rams, the Seahawks played well defensively to open the game due to a few new wrinkles incorporated by defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Mixing in "bandit" coverages with seven defensive backs on the field in obvious passing situations, they forced three consecutive punts by the Steelers in the first quarter. Jamal Adams also was far more active as a blitzer than he has been in the first five games, forcing an incompletion on a screen play with quick pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. But once the second quarter started, many of the same problems that have plagued the defense all year returned to the forefront. Sacks and tackles were left on the field, an interception opportunity for Adams in the red zone was thwarted by Darrell Taylor leaping up for the ball, defensive ends were dropping into coverage and getting toasted by running backs, and a pair of penalties extended drives, including a defensive face mask flag on defensive tackle Bryan Mone that helped lead to a fly sweep touchdown run for tight end Eric Ebron. Pittsburgh was able to put together two swift touchdown drives in the quarter to build a 14-point lead that felt like 30 points given Seattle's offensive struggles without Wilson.

3. Playing his first NFL regular season snaps, Tre Brown gives Seahawks' secondary a much-needed lift... for one drive.

If there's a positive to glean from the first half, Seattle had to be fired up with what it saw from its cornerbacks. D.J Reed made a spectacular play breaking up a deep ball from Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson in the first quarter and had seven tackles in the first two quarters. Brown, who was activated off injured reserve on Friday, also excelled in his first defensive snaps on the team's second possession. On the possession, he made his first two NFL tackles and then exhibited perfect technique to take away a vertical throw from Roethlisberger to Johnson on third down, forcing Pittsburgh to punt. But despite how well he played in limited snaps, Brown wasn't seen on any of the Seahawks last four defensive possessions in the half, with veteran Sidney Jones checking back in at left cornerback. The decision not to reward the fourth-round pick with more playing time was perplexing, but maybe with the team now trailing two scores, he will get a more extended run in the final two quarters to show what he can do across from Reed as the team tries to find long-term answers at the position.