When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Qwest Field
Record: 1-12 after Sunday’s 26-3 loss to the New York Jets
Where they rank: No. 28 on offense (25th rushing, 25th passing); No. 26 on defense (31st rushing, 7th passing)
Series: Seahawks lead 7-2, but the Bucs won last year’s game in Tampa to snap Seattle’s three-game series winning streak
Star power: Kellen Winslow. The Buccaneers’ tight end is no stranger to the Seahawks. Winslow caught a career-high 11 passes for 125 yards against them in 2007 while playing for the Cleveland Browns. This season, his first with the Bucs, Winslow already has tied the franchise record for receptions by a tight end (62) and also leads the team with five touchdown catches. Of the five tights in the league with more receptions than Winslow, the Seahawks have faced three of them – the Colts’ Dallas Clark (eight catches for 80 yards against Seattle), the Cowboys’ Jason Witten (four for 36) and the 49ers’ Vernon Davis (two for 32 and six for 111).
Unsung hero: Clifton Smith. The second-year running back leads the league with a 29.1-yard average returning kickoffs and is 10th among punt returners with a 10.1-yard average. The only other player in the league to rank among the Top 10 in both categories is the Texans’ Jacoby Jones. But in keeping with the way things have gone for the Bucs this season, of the six kickoff returners averaging more than 27 yards, Smith is the only one who has not returned one for a touchdown.
On the spot: Josh Freeman. With a rookie quarterback comes growing pains, and Freeman is in one of those stretches. He has thrown eight interceptions while completing 48 percent of his passes the past two games. The only QB in the league with a lower passer rating than Freeman (55.4) is the Raiders’ JaMarcus Russell (47.7), and Russell also is the only one with a lower completion percentage (.480) than Freeman (.525). Sunday, the Bucs’ offense had six first downs and 124 total yards against the Jets. Not surprisingly, rookie head coach Raheem Morris is saying he’ll cut back on Freeman’s responsibilities this week.
Burning question: What happened on Nov. 8? That’s when the Buccaneers won their only game this season, beating the Green Bay Packers 38-28. That’s the most points the 9-4 Packers have allowed this season, and the most the Bucs have scored – in fact, it’s the only time they’ve scored more than 23 this season. In three of their past four games, the Bucs have not scored more seven points.
Familiar faces: TE Jerramy Stevens was the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2002 and played five seasons (2002-06). He also played at the University of Washington and Olympia’s River Ridge High School. Linebacker Niko Koutouvides (2004-07) and defensive lineman Michael Bennett (this season) also played for the Seahawks. Offensive coordinator/QB coach Greg Olson is from Richland and played quarterback at Spokane Falls Junior College (1981-82) and Central Washington University (1983-84). He coached at CWU (1990-93) and Washington State (1987-89).
The last word: “We’ve got a rookie quarterback, so we know we’re going to have some bumps in the road. You tell me, what rookie quarterback hasn’t had growing pains?” – Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips