A recap of the day’s activities on Day One of NFC West Championship week:
The obvious. Before his first season as Seahawks coach ever began, Pete Carroll set his sights on winning the NFC West title. He made sure his team shared that goal.
Although the season has not been as successful as planned, that goal remains: With a win over the St. Louis Rams in Sunday night’s nationally televised game at Qwest Field, the Seahawks will win the division – and advance to the playoffs – for the first time since 2007.
Even at 6-9, the victory would pull the Seahawks even with the Rams at 7-9, and the Seahawks would prevail because of a better record in the division (4-2 vs. 3-3).
“This is an interesting finish to this season, obviously,” Carroll said today. “It’s a week that comes up on us much like we kind of looked ahead. If we had said maybe six weeks ago, ‘What do you think this last game of the season is going to mean?’ Well, we would have said it probably would have to do with the championship position in our division.
“And that’s what it’s come down to. This is a week that we have to get focused on in a unique way, I think, because last week we leave behind us, ‘last’ season we leave behind us. And it comes down to championship time. So it’s one that we look forward to, and one where we have to get some things done. We have a lot of work to do.”
Carroll and his staff already have begun working on the game plan for the rematch with the Rams, a team that beat the Seahawks 20-3 in St. Louis in Week 4. Since then, the Seahawks have gone 4-7, and they’re on a three-game losing streak. The Rams have gone 5-6, and they’ve won three of their past five games.
“Through this whole process of putting it together, you can see that there are opportunities to make jumps and there are ones that we’ve missed,” Carroll said. “We’ve done some good things, but we’ve missed some.”
Of Sunday’s 38-15 loss to the Bucs in Tampa, he added, “Last week, I thought that’s what happened. I thought we missed an opportunity to gain momentum going into this final game. I didn’t like that that happened.”
The Seahawks, as well as the Rams, are down to this final opportunity.
WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM
Sports Radio 950 KJR broke into its broadcast of the Independence Bowl game between Air Force and Georgia Tech to carry Carroll’s weekly day-after news conference live. The announcement to the listening audience coincided with Carroll walking to the podium at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, and made the coach laugh.
“Now that we’re addressing the Independence Bowl crowd live …” Carroll cracked. “Let’s make sure this one is of stellar nature so that we deem it worthy.”
The big news, of course, was the strained hip that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got while scoring on a 1-yard run in the first quarter against the Bucs. He has not been ruled out for Sunday night’s game, but it’s also not certain that he will be able to play.
Also, wide receiver Brandon Stokley got a concussion when he hit his helmet on the turf at Raymond James Stadium after catching a pass.
“He had a very good day today, as the doctors saw him,” Carroll said. “We’ll have to go though the regular process with him. We’re counting on him to be practicing on Friday; maybe he’ll be back by Thursday.
Rookie left tackle Russell Okung also twisted an ankle, but the team’s top draft choice was able to finish the game. Okung has missed six games because of sprains to his right and left ankles.
“Russell did reinjure his ankle some,” Carroll said. “He’s still hobbling a little bit. If you watch him closely, he’s not 100 percent. But he was determined to get back. The docs were trying to sit him down for a bit and let it rest. He said, ‘I can go. I can go.’
“So we shoved him back out there and he did. He did a nice job of finishing the game. It’s a factor in his play. It is what it is. We’ve just got to keep trying to help him get through it.”
STAT DU JOUR
Rams QB Sam Bradford completed 28 passes in Sunday’s win over the 49ers, giving him 335 for the season. That surpasses the NFL rookie record that was set in 1998 by the Colts’ Peyton Manning (326).
YOU DON’T SAY
“From everything I’ve heard Seattle is a tough place to play. I’ve heard it’s one of the loudest (stadiums) in the NFL. We know it’s not going to be easy to go up there and get a win. But if you don’t get excited for games likes this, then you’re probably in the wrong business.” – Bradford, after Sunday’s win that lifted the Rams into first place in the division