Rolling Stone has been chronicling everything that’s trendy and topical in music, politics and pop cultural since 1967. But Matt Taibbi, who is considered one of the top political journalists of his generation, also is a fan of the NFL and has been offering his insights on the league this season.
In the most recent issue of the magazine, Taibbi hands out “my awards for a season of the ages,” as he put it. And his Coach of the Year is Pete Carroll. Cool? No, way cool. And because Carroll grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 60s, having Rolling Stone honor him probably is better than winning the Coach of the Year honor from the Associated Press.
Wrote Taibbi: “This award is probably going to Chuck Pagano or Bruce Arians, and kudos to both for the making-men-cry inspirational storyline that led the Colts to the playoffs. But Carroll made the balls-out call of the year, betting his entire career on a 5-foot-10 third-round rookie quarterback named Russell Wilson. Carroll even managed to make the Seahawks’ silly new line-green-streaked uniforms scary as his team stomped self-appointed tough guy Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers, 42-13, for one of the best wins of the year.”
Did we mention that Taibbi looks at the NFL the same way he does politics – with an edge?
His other award winners: Redskins’ QB Robert Griffin III, Rookie of the Year; Ray Rice’s “hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle” first down run on fourth-and-29, Play of the Year; the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, Player of the Year; and the Jets, Best Soap Opera.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 16.
Meg Wochnick of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps a Russell Wilson visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Wilson met with 17-year-old cancer patient David Padilla, a senior baseball standout at Timberline High School, “Wilson, less than 48 hours removed from Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC divisional playoff game, spent almost an hour talking with Padilla and also autographing a handful of items for him, including a football and a photo. ‘He was busy,’ said Kari Padilla, David’s mother. They talked about everything from Padilla’s battle with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, to their love of baseball.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the Seahawks defense and the struggles they had closing out several games this season, “You can’t say that Seattle’s defense was bad this year. The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the league. They went two straight road games without allowing the opposing offense to score a touchdown, and they weren’t entirely unable to finish out games. The Patriots got the ball back with more than twice as much time as Atlanta had Sunday, and the Seahawks closed Tom Brady and his New England teammates out in four plays. Seattle had strong second-half showings against Minnesota and Buffalo, too. But those four blown saves were enough to constitute a trend that is fairly alarming. It wasn’t just that Seattle allowed points late, but the shockingly improbable ways it found to cough up the lead. … ‘I’m not worried about figuring it out,’ Carroll said. ‘It’s just a snap here or there, but it did happen this year. You can’t ignore that.’ ”
O’Neil passes along a transcript of his “Hawk Talk” chat here.
O’Neil also comments on the future of quarterback Matt Flynn, “…while you could make a case that Flynn is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the entire league, he might not be the best backup quarterback for Seattle. He is a quarterback whose biggest asset is timing and anticipation while Wilson is someone with a plus-arm by NFL standards and exceptional mobility. In that regard, Seattle might be better finding a backup quarterback who is capable of running some of the option plays Seattle has as opposed to a more accomplished passer like Flynn. Carroll was asked, specifically, if it was important to find a backup with traits similar to Wilson’s. ‘It’s a good point and we’ve talked a lot about that,’ Carroll said. ‘It would be nice to have another guy who might be able to be a factor in that way. There’s some really good kids out there. We’ll see.’ ”
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss whether or not opposing defenses will catch up to the Seahawks’ use of the read-option with quarterback Russell Wilson in this short video.
Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” discuss who on the defensive side of the football can match Wilson’s level of leadership in this short video.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who coached Russell Wilson in his one season at Wisconsin, chats with 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” on what the future holds for the young quarterback.
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has a close look at five key players who will be unrestricted free agents this offseason, including defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Leroy Hill, cornerback Marcus Trufant, kicker Steven Hauschka, and defensive tackle Jason Jones.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “silver linings” from Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Atlanta Falcons, “Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 24 of 36 passes for 385 yards and two touchdowns. He also had seven rushing attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown. Wilson set an NFL rookie record for passing yardage in a playoff game. He became the first player in NFL history with at least 385 yards passing and 60 yards rushing in a postseason game. Wilson’s performance established him even more firmly as a franchise quarterback and one of the best young players in the NFL.”
Sando also has a look at Wilson’s potential path to the Pro Bowl next weekend in Honolulu, Hawaii, “Aaron Rodgers’ withdrawal from the Pro Bowl moves Seattle Seahwaks rookie Russell Wilson one step closer to playing in the game. Wilson was the third alternate for the annual all-star game. Rodgers, Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan were the three quarterbacks named to the NFC roster. Griffin is already out while recovering from knee surgery. Ryan would be out if his Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl. Drew Brees was named to the game as the first alternate. Eli Manning was the second alternate. Wilson would be named to the NFC roster if Ryan were in the Super Bowl or if one of the other alternates skipped the game.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first mock draft of 2013 and has the Seahawks selecting 6-foot-3, 358-pound defensive tackle John Jenkins out of Georgia with the No. 25 pick in the first round, “Analysis: John Schneider and Pete Carroll showed great instincts in the 2012 draft, adding players they felt could help them immediately, even as analysts (myself included) questioned slot value. The defense was very good this past season, but I think an interior defender who can occupy blockers, occasionally penetrate and even wreck the pocket from the inside is a need. Jenkins was a little uneven at times in 2012, but has the upside of an impact interior lineman.”
Seahawks.com hands out its honors from the team’s 11-5 regular season and split of two games in the postseason:
MVP: Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. How can pick one over the other? How can you pick one or the other? We couldn’t, so the Beast Mode running back and steady-as-he-throws rookie QB share the honor, just as they shared the workload. There’s an entire story’s worth of thought process that went into this decision.
Best offensive player: Max Unger. It could go to Lynch or Wilson, obviously. But this is a share-the-credit selection, since both Lynch and Wilson were always quick to credit the line for its part their accomplishments. Unger, in his second season as the starting center, anchored that line and was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. “He’s right all the time,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “I think to do this the consistency thing comes into play here. You’ve got to do it running the ball and protecting your quarterback down after down, and Max has done that.”
Best defensive player: Richard Sherman. Only strong safety Kam Chancellor (.975) and free safety Earl Thomas (.958) played a higher percentage of snaps than Sherman (.948), but no one made more plays than the second-year cornerback. He led the team, and tied for second in the NFL, with eight interceptions. He also had 24 passes defensed, almost three times as many as Thomas (nine), who finished second on the team. Somehow snubbed when it came to voting for the Pro Bowl, Sherman was selected to the All-Pro team. If enough people were paying attention, he also should get some consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year – an award that is expected to be a slam-dunk for the Texans’ J.J. Watt. And Sherman saved one of his best efforts for the biggest stage – Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons. “I thought he had a fantastic football game,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They went after him. They challenged him. And I thought he was incredible.”
Best special teams player: Heath Farwell. Again, this was not an easy choice. And asking special teams coordinator Brian Schneider for help didn’t help at all, because so many of his players made special contributions. From Jon Ryan, who broke his own club record for net average (40.8) and was among the league leaders with 30 punts downed inside the 20; to kicker Steven Hauschka, who was 23 of 23 from inside the 50; to Leon Washington, who was voted to the Pro Bowl and returned the eighth kickoff of his career for a TD to tie the NFL record; to Michael Robinson, who was second to Farwell in coverage tackles (10); to Malcolm Smith, who scored off a muffed punt return and blocked a punt that was returned for a score. But for Schneider, it was all about the consistency with his units and no one was more consistent than Farwell, who had 15 coverage tackles to go with the league-high 21 he produced last season.
Offensive rookie of the year: Wilson, for all the obvious reasons and even more that weren’t that obvious.
Defensive rookie of the year: Bobby Wagner. While first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin led all NFL rookies with eight sacks, Wagner led the team, and finished second among all rookies in the league, with 140 tackles during the regular season and 17 during the postseason. The second-round draft choice also produced four interceptions and two sacks from his middle linebacker spot. The best part of everything that Wagner did? His attitude. “I’m the middle linebacker,” he said. “I’m supposed to make a lot of tackles.”
Free-agent addition of the year: Zach Miller. Yes, he was signed in free agency the previous year. But his contributions this season came much closer to displaying just how versatile – and good – a tight end Miller is. He’s a rock-solid blocker and also finished third on the team with 38receptions and tied for second with three TD catches. But it was Miller’s over-the-top efforts against the Falcons that forced the turn-back-the-clock tweak in this category: eight catches for 142 yards. All after he tore the plantar fascia in his left foot on the Seahawks’ first possession. “Zach had a terrific season for us,” Carroll said. “But in this game, when he had the opportunities, boy, he cashed in on all of them.”
Chris Gray Award: Paul McQuistan. Who better to win this than this generation’s Chris Gray? Gray was a warrior of a lineman who started a club-record 121 consecutive games from 1999-2006, after being signed to fill a backup role. That’s the same path McQuistan has followed. Signed to a future contract in January of 2011, he started a career-high 10 games last season and 16 this season – nine at right guard and seven at left guard, where he also started both postseason games. “He’s kind of our glue, that’s the way I look at him,” Cable said. “Paul has been so valuable. He has played multiple positions the last two years. He never misses a beat. It’s just that his wisdom and experience are so valuable for those young guys in there. So he truly has been the glue in that room, without a doubt.”
Best trend: Going 8-0 at home. This season’s team did it, joining the 2003 and 2005 teams as the only ones in franchise history to do it. Along the way, the Seahawks dispatched the Packers and Patriots, who went on to win their divisions, as well as the playoff-bound Vikings. They also avenged road losses to each of their NFC West rivals – beating the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals by a combined 94 points in the final month of the regular season after losing to them by a combined 17 points in the first seven weeks of the season. Think how different things might have turned out if the Seahawks had been able to play at CenturyLink Field in the postseason. Carroll has. “That’s why you own your division, so you can be positioned to play at home,” he said. “That’s what’s at hand, that’s the goal of this program – it’s to win the division so that you can start the playoffs where you want to, and try to keep it there.”
Worst trend: The inability to hold fourth-quarter leads. As well as the defense played – and that was ranked-No. 4-in-the NFL well – it allowed the Lions, Dolphins and finally Falcons to drive to game-winning scores after the Seahawks taken fourth-quarter leads. The Bears tied the score at the end of regulation, but the offense won that game in overtime. Win a couple of those other games and the Seahawks would have captured the division and opened the postseason at home. “That’s an issue, just finishing it off on that last drive,” Carroll said. “There are four games sitting right there. That’s a big-time season. But I’m not worried about figuring that out. It’s just a snap here or there. But it happened this year and you can’t ignore that.”
Best quote: This one is actually a remark incumbent starter, and since traded, Tarvaris Jackson made last spring – way before the fact, and way before Wilson became the talk of the NFL: “Russell, he’s not like a regular rookie.”
Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons attracted about 87 percent of the television sets turned on in the Seattle-Tacoma area, the Seattle Times noted this morning.
The Seahawks rallied to overcome a 20-0 halftime deficit and a 27-7 fourth quarter score to take the lead, 28-27, with 31 seconds to play in the game. But Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan quickly drove his club into field goal range and kicker Matt Bryant booted a 49-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner.
The Seahawks’ 30-28 loss earned a 79 Nielsen share (percentage of televisions turned on) for the entire game and a rating of 45.6 percent of the total TV market in Seattle, according to Jeremy Dietz, research director at KCPQ (FOX, channel 13 in Seattle). Dietz said the number equates to 829,000 households and 1.494 million viewers watching the game in the Seattle-Tacoma region, and those numbers do not account for people who watched the game outside their own home at local bars or house parties.
“It was beyond our expectations,” Dietz said of the numbers to the Seattle Times. “The last couple of weeks of the season the numbers started spiking. These playoff games were way higher than anything we’ve seen in a long time.”
Sunday’s ratings were higher than any television event in Seattle since 2006, when the Seahawks fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. According to Dietz, Super Bowl XL drew 926,000 households, a 54.4 rating and 85 share in the area.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 15.
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have a lot to look forward to with Russell Wilson at quarterback, “From now until he decides he’s done, Wilson is here to captivate, inspire and — most important — lead. Despite the difficulty of the NFL, despite the understanding there are few assurances in this sport, despite the Seahawks’ limited history of sustained excellence, Wilson provides extreme confidence that it’s safe for this franchise to dream the biggest dreams. He’s that special, and he’s a star that illuminates all the other special things the Seahawks are doing to become a championship-caliber team. The Seahawks have so much going for them, from general manager John Schneider’s deft talent-evaluation to a young core of stars to a coach who complements and directs them perfectly. You keep looking for the trap door, for the way the Seahawks will end up as heartbroken as they were in their last-minute, season-ending loss to Atlanta on Sunday. But the more you look for fatal flaws, the more you come back to Wilson and the level of trust he demands. ‘He’s a baller,’ Carroll said. ‘A real football player.’ ”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at three things we learned and three things we’re still trying to figure out after the Seahawks’ season-ending loss at Atlanta, “Zach Miller is one tough hombre. The guy tore his plantar fascia on Seattle’s third play of the game. He went to the locker room, took a pain-killing shot on the bottom of his foot and returned to have the most prolific receiving day in not only his two-year tenure with the Seahawks, but his six-year NFL career. We’ve made a big deal out of how seldom he has been targeted in the passing game since coming to Seattle. He caught 50 or more passes in three successive seasons with the Raiders only to come to the Seahawks and catch a career-low 25 passes in 2011. He had 38 receptions in 2012, but had not had more than 59 yards receiving in any game for the Seahawks. Until Sunday. He showed exactly what he can do if the opponent neglects to account for him. Miller caught eight passes for 142 yards, most of any player in a game that also featured Atlanta’s Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times writes that while the Seahawks may have been hurting after Sunday’s loss, plenty are looking forward to what’s in store for the team next season, “Wilson, who wore a sweatshirt Monday that read ‘No Time 2 Sleep,’ was living out that message already. The morning after the season ended, he was reviewing game tape. ‘There are so many areas where I could get better, and that’s the thing that I’ll have to do this offseason is continue to watch the film, continue to look at all the cut-ups of this past season and what I’ve done well and what I could have done better. The goal for me is … ‘How can I get 10 times better?’ ‘ A shared motivation, it seems, for a team that has the look of a perennial contender. ‘If you didn’t know who the Seahawks were before the season, I’ll guarantee you know who they are now,’ said defensive end Bruce Irvin. ‘There are a lot of positive things coming for the organization, and I can’t wait to get it started again in a couple months.’ ”
Mayers also passes along comments from several players on their thanks for the support of the 12th Man, ” ‘It’s amazing to have the fan base that we have. They make the game fun. They make it easier to play your heart out and leave it all on the field, because you know you’re playing for such fantastic fans, and they deserve it.’ — Richard Sherman, cornerback”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their future, “At this point, nothing Wilson does, whether it’s leading a fourth-quarter comeback or working non-stop off the field, will really surprise anyone in Seattle’s locker room. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why the Seahawks are so excited about their future even as they struggle to accept that their season just ended. ‘After the Chicago game, you had a team full of believers that he could do anything,’ said cornerback Richard Sherman, speaking about the touchdown drives Wilson led in the fourth quarter and overtime as Seattle defeated the Bears on Dec. 2. ‘We’d be surprised if he walked on water and fell in. He’s a great quarterback, he’s a great person, and he deserves the success he has. He works hard for it, he does everything you could ask of a quarterback and more.’ And to be fair, the Seahawks have plenty of reasons for optimism beyond the play of their young quarterback. The Seahawks are young, which means a lot of these players have room to grow. And only two starters — linebacker Leroy Hill and defensive tackle Alan Branch — are free agents. Also, the good health that helped Seattle finish the season so strong will also lead to a more productive offseason.”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press comments on the play of Wilson and what it means for the Seahawks going forward, “While some franchises continue to search for a solid foundation at quarterback, the Seahawks go into next season knowing that the position is all but locked up for the foreseeable future. That’s why Wilson spent some of Monday morning watching film rather than packing up his locker. ‘Obviously, there are very high expectations for our football team now, and that’s great to have,’ Wilson said. ‘That means that we’ve got to work that much harder in practice, we’ve got to work that much harder in the offseason, and we’ve got to play that much better come game time. I look forward to those challenges and that’s what I wait for.’ ”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com revisits what went wrong for the Seahawks in the last 25 seconds of Sunday’s game, “The Seahawks had been bringing extra pressure all game, a necessity given the lack of pass rush they were getting from their defensive line. That pressure was a factor on Ryan’s first-quarter interception, when he threw an errant pass to Wagner as Trufant was bearing down on him. Trufant and Guy both had blitzed from the left side on that play. It was those two coming off the left side again on second down of the final drive. This time, though, the Falcons picked it up. Ryan hit Gonzalez at Seattle’s 36, and Gonzalez shed linebacker Bobby Wagner’s tackle before picking up an extra five yards. ‘They made two great plays and that’s all it took,’ Carroll said.”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Monday’s end-of-season media availability, “DT Alan Branch will be an unrestricted free agent after spending his last two seasons in Seattle. Branch expressed a sincere desire to be back with the Seahawks next season. ‘I love the team here. I would love to be back here. I have developed great friendships with the guys, especially in the D-line room, but throughout the team. I didn’t really have as many friends as I do on this team on any team I had in Arizona. I think it’s a special group,’ Branch said. ‘Hopefully they want me here and the whole money situation gets settled. But if not there won’t be a better group of guys than this, I’m sure.’ “
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 14:
A warm reception. When the Seahawks were leaving the airport after their return from Atlanta, and a 30-28 loss to the Falcons in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game, their buses were greeted by a crowd of several hundred cheering fans. When they reached VMAC, several hundred more were on hands and cheering just as wildly.
It might have been a Sunday evening with temperatures below freezing, but the warm reception helped the players deal with the disappointing loss.
“Speaking for myself, I play for the 12th Man,” wide receiver Golden Tate said today when the players were cleaning out their lockers. “That’s who I play for. I love them, and I hate that it had to end.”
That was part of the players’ amazement at the turnout. The Seahawks were returning from a season-ending defeat, not a victory that sent them to the NFC Championship game.
“To have the support we have from those guys, no matter what the outcome of the game, it’s awesome. I guarantee you there’s no other fan base that’s showing up at the facility in that weather after a loss with that type of support.
“The support we’ve gotten all season has been outstanding, and we appreciate it so much.”
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman seconded that notion.
“That meant a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to have those kinds of fans and to have that kind of support in this city. It makes you want to play hard. It lets you see that all your hard work is for something.
“It’s hard to explain that kind of feeling. It’s amazing. It’s the middle of the night. It’s 20-something degrees. They care about us as players, as a team. And we care about this city. It really leaves you speechless, because they’re nothing you can say to describe the feeling of that kind of support.”
The rookie class. The Seahawks stunned many of the “experts” with some of the players they selected in the NFL Draft last April. It started in the first round, when they took defensive end Bruce Irvin. It continued in the second round, when they drafted middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. It reached the hysterical level when they went for quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round.
Let’s see, Wilson passed for 26 touchdowns to tie the NFL rookie record set by Peyton Manning in 1998, among many other things; Wagner led the team in tackles during the regular season and postseason; and Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks during the regular season.
“We had a tremendous rookie class,” Wilson said. “Everybody said that this rookie class wouldn’t do anything and we’ve shown we can play. The goal is, we’ve got to prove it again next year.”
The NFL Network was at VMAC last week to tape this feature on the Seahawks’ rookie class which aired during its Sunday pregame show.
Zach Miller did indeed tear the plantar fascia in his left foot, as the veteran tight end said after Sunday’s game. He was on crutches and had his foot in a protective boot today.
Defensive end Chris Clemons, who tore a ligament in his left knee in last week’s wild-card playoff game against the Redskins, has yet to have his surgery. But he was scheduled to meet with specialist Dr. James Andrews this week.
“This has been an extraordinary year in terms of that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I mentioned to the team how fortunate we were to get out of this tear with really one major rehab.”
The Seahawks will have the 25th selection in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, and 10 picks overall.
“We’ve got 10 picks going into this draft, which is fantastic for us,” Carroll said. “I can’t imagine all the work that John (Schneider, the GM) is going to turn out with all those opportunities.”
STAT DU JOUR
Matt Hasselbeck and Dave Krieg hold pretty much every passing record for the Seahawks. But Sunday, Wilson did something in his second postseason game that Hasselbeck (11 starts) and Krieg (seven) didn’t in their combined 18 playoff starts – pass for more than 350 yards. Here’s a look at the top postseason passing-yard games in franchise history
Player, opponent (date) Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating
Russell Wilson, Falcons (Jan. 13, 2013) 36 24 385 2 1 109.1
Matt Hasselbeck, Rams (Jan. 8, 2005) 43 27 341 2 1 93.3
Matt Hasselbeck, Packers (Jan. 4, 2004) 45 25 305 0 1 67.4
Dave Krieg, Bengals (Dec. 31, 1988) 50 24 297 1 2 56.8
The offseason. The players took their exit physicals, had their exit meeting with Carroll and cleaned out their lockers today. The midseason program begins in mid-April.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The thing I said to the guys afterward was that 25 seconds didn’t define our team. … This has been a great year for us.” – Carroll on the Falcons driving to their game-winning field goal by completing passes of 22 and 19 yards
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Jan. 14:
1999: New head coach Mike Holmgren hires eight assistants from his staff with the Packers to join him with Seahawks: Mike Sherman, offensive coordinator/tight ends; Fritz Shurmur, defensive coordinator; Tom Lovat, offensive line; Larry Brooks, defensive line; Nolan Cromwell, wide receivers; Jim Lind, linebackers; Ken Flajole, defensive backs; and Kent Johnson, strength and conditioning.
2005: Bob Whitsitt is relieved of his duties as president of football operations.
2006: The Seahawks win their first playoff game since 1984 with a 20-10 victory over the Redskins in a Wild Card game in Seattle. Darrell Jackson catches nine passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, while Matt Hasselbeck also runs for TD.
2007: Robbie Gould kicks a 41-yard field goal to tie the game with 4½ minutes remaining in regulation and then hits a 49-yarder in overtime to give the Bears a 27-24 victory over the Seahawks in a divisional playoff game at Soldier Field. Shaun Alexander runs for 108 yards and two touchdowns, but is stopped for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play from the Bears’ 44-yard line with two minutes left in regulation.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 14 – one day after the Seahawks’ 30-28 divisional-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday’s game, “Twenty-five seconds. That’s how long Seattle’s defense — which allowed the fewest points in the league during the regular season — needed to hold on. Turned out 12 seconds was all the Falcons needed to complete two passes and put kicker Matt Bryant in position for the game-winning field goal that turned Seattle’s incredible comeback into ash. ‘We’re a real resilient young team,’ defensive tackle Red Bryant said. ‘We had our opportunities. Atlanta made some great plays, and was able to get the game-winning field goal.’ ”
O’Neil highlights the play of Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “Russell Wilson completed his first 10 passes in the second half, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another. He threw for 385 yards, not only the most for a Seahawk in a playoff game but the most ever for an NFL rookie in the postseason. ‘He is an amazing football player,’ coach Pete Carroll said afterward. ‘He proved himself again and again. It is undeniable that you look at anything he did and put a star on it.’ ‘
O’Neil has his “2-minute drill“, naming Wilson, Seahawks tight end Zach Miller and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez his players of the game, “Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 385 yards, not only a career high and franchise playoff record, but also the most ever for a rookie quarterback in a playoff game. Seahawks tight end Zach Miller had not had more than 59 yards receiving in a game since joining Seattle. He had a career-high 142 yards against Atlanta despite playing with a torn plantar fascia suffered on the third play of the game. It was the second-most receiving yards by a Seahawk in a playoff game behind Darrell Jackson’s 143 in 2005.”
O’Neil and Larry Stone of the Seattle Times share their game notebook, “He [Zach Miller] suffered a torn plantar fascia on the third play, and was taken to the locker room where he had a painkilling shot. Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards, both game-highs. It was nothing short of remarkable, not just because of his injury, but because he had never had more than 59 yards in any game as a Seahawk. That receiving total was a career-high for Miller, who played four seasons with the Raiders before signing with Seattle last year. ‘It was nice to get some balls like that,’ Miller said. ‘But I’m disappointed that we didn’t win when we were so close. If there is any solace, I don’t feel it right now.’ Miller’s receiving total was one yard off Darrell Jackson’s franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game.”
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says while this playoff loss hurts, the future for the club is bright, “Eventually the pain will subside and this young team will begin to remember all of the good from this season. And, as they gather for offseason workouts and begin the long preparations for next September, they will look back on this 11-win year and tell themselves this was just the start of something big. ‘Next year will be my ninth,’ Hill said, about a half-hour after Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal, ‘and it’s been a fun ride. You don’t get many teams as good as this. And it’s only the beginning, man. A lot of young guys, a lot of pieces in place around here. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to shake.’ Look around this locker-room-in-mourning and all you see are possibilities. ‘We felt like this was our year,’ fullback Michael Robinson said, ‘and we’ll feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we won’t lack for confidence and we’re going to come to fight you. We need to bring as many of these players back as possible and keep our core group together.’ ”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has his take on yesterday’s Seahawks loss, “Here’s the thing about the Seahawks, though: Despite their blunders, despite a run defense that allowed 167 rushing yards to a poor running team, despite trailing 27-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, they refused to break. And they nearly pulled off their greatest comeback victory ever. Wilson led them, throwing for 385 yards (an NFL postseason record for a rookie quarterback) and two touchdowns. Tight end Zach Miller, who had eight receptions for 142 yards, caught a touchdown pass during the rally. Lynch, who was held to 46 rushing yards, still did his part, plunging into the end zone from two yards out as the Seahawks took a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. Their fight was remarkable.”
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at Wilson’s performance, “Wilson engineered what should have been the biggest comeback in playoff history in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, giving the Hawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play in the game. As he has been in this record-setting season, Wilson again was a clear-eyed, cold-blooded quarterbacking machine, who passed for 385 yards, and ran for 60 more. And if the guy is to be downgraded for anything it’s only that he’s a bit of a procrastinator. That, and the fact that he hasn’t figured out a way to get on the field with the defense on the final drive. The Seahawks have seen the improbable out of Wilson for so long, they’ve exhausted their amazement, so the Falcons were kind enough to supply some. ‘He’s got the ‘it’ factor, man,’ said Atlanta safety William Moore. ‘You can’t control a guy like that. That dude is going to be a big problem for defenses in the league. He can do it all — he can run, he can throw, and he has the moxie you like to see in good quarterbacks. He was truly a game-changer.’ ”
Boling also comments on the play of Miller, “Miller has been one of the ultimate “team” players, having sacrificed the attention of catching passes last season while the Seahawks needed him to stay on the line to help with shaky protection last season. But his efforts have been highly visible this season. ‘He had a fantastic football game,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He got hurt early in the game and he stuck in there an finished it. The guy was all over the place. He did well catching the ball and making plays. It was his day today and Russell found him all day long.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game recap, “Matt Bryant’s late-game theatrics overshadowed another masterful performance by Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who rallied his team just like he’s done all season. The Seahawks fell behind for a second straight week, this time trailing 20-0 at halftime — the team’s largest deficit of the season. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said there was no panic from his players at halftime. ‘I can’t imagine that anybody expected that we were going to have a chance to get back into that game, except for the guys in that locker room,’ he said. ‘And they knew we were going to have a chance to get back into that game. They felt it the whole time.’ ”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his thoughts on yesterday’s divisional playoff, “What went down in the fourth quarter was nothing short of an amazing comeback. Wilson was spectacular, passing for a Seahawks playoff record 385 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 60 yards and another score. But that emotional roller coaster just wasn’t necessary. If the Seahawks didn’t have two empty trips to the red zone in the first half, if Marshawn Lynch hadn’t fumbled, if the defense hadn’t put on one of its worst displays of tackling of the season, the Seahawks could have been in a position to win comfortably. ‘We just didn’t play well in the first half,’ Seattle tight end Zach Miller told reporters. ‘We had some drives but we didn’t get points out of them. Obviously that came back to haunt us. I thought that we played really well in the second half and put us in a position to win, but it didn’t happen.’ ”
Boyle also breaks down Sunday’s game by the numbers, “4—Losses on the road this season in which Seattle’s defense gave up a fourth-quarter lead late in the game (at Arizona, at Detroit, at Miami and Sunday in Atlanta). 2—Empty trips into the red zone for the Seahawks in the first half, points they desperately could have used by the end of the game. 0—Punts by the Falcons in the first three quarters, though Matt Ryan was intercepted twice before the Seahawks forced a punt. 0—Sacks by the Seahawks, who clearly missed defensive end Chris Clemons. A blitz by Marcus Trufant produced the only hit on Matt Ryan all afternoon.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says the Seahawks missed defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend against the Washington Redskins, “Matt Ryan, with seemingly endless amounts of time in the pocket, finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those picks came when the Seahawks brought defensive backs Marcus Trufant and Winston Guy off the left edge. That was one way Seattle tried to manufacture a pass rush in the absence of pressure from its defensive line. ‘We felt like we had to to get pressure,’ Carroll said of the more blitz-heavy approach. ‘Even all the way down to the end.’ ”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has reaction from Wilson, “The whipsaw brought a devastating end to a brilliant season that was within reach of the Super Bowl. Wilson had a splendid second half, finishing with a club-playoff-record 385 yards, two passing TDs and one on the ground. Yet after the win, he was almost as remarkable with his response to defeat. Instead of moping, Wilson simply refused to give in, demonstrating why the team has fallen for a rookie they all came to cherish. ‘When the game was over, I was very disappointed, but when I got to the tunnel, walking off, I got so excited for the opportunity next year,’ he said. What? The kid just had a metaphorical arrow shot through his heart, and he already pulled it out. ‘I told (QB position coach Carl Smith) afterward, ‘I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to the off-season and work and work and work . . . to get to the next season and play.’ ”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his reaction following Sunday’s Seahawks-Falcons matchup, “What it means: The Seahawks lost a heartbreaker after their fourth-quarter pass defense faltered once again, a recurring theme for Seattle. The Seahawks had taken a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds remaining. But they couldn’t stop the Falcons from moving quickly into position for the winning field goal with eight seconds left. The team will have to address that aspect of its performance in the offseason.”
Sando has a chart showing the 2013 NFL Draft order, and after yesterday’s loss to the Falcons it can be deciphered that the Seahawks will hold the No. 25 overall pick.
Sando also says Wilson is the least of the team’s worries, “Wilson totaled 435 yards passing in three Seattle defeats through Week 7. He had rookie postseason record 385 in a single season-ending defeat Sunday, playing well enough to give his team its only lead with 31 seconds remaining. Yardage isn’t always a reliable measure of quarterback performance, but the contrast was irresistible and wholly reflective in this case. Wilson went from having little positive impact during early season defeats to giving Seattle its best chance to win. Some of that had to do with the coaching staff trusting Wilson with more of the playbook.”
And Peter King of SI.com has his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, pinning the Seahawks as the League’s 5th-best team, “5. Seattle (12-6). Welcome to the playoffs, Mr. Wilson. See you back soon, and often. The game is better with you in it.”
Hundreds of fans greeted the Seahawks as they arrived back in Seattle this evening. Fans lined the streets Air Cargo Road and 188th St. near SeaTac while another large group greeted the team busses as they arrived back at the Virgina Mason Athletic Center.
As many of the players turned to social media to say thanks several players, including All-Pro defensive back Richard Sherman stopped and personally thanked the fans.
ATLANTA – A recap of the Seahawks’ 30-28 loss to the Falcons in their divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Russell Wilson. In the end, the Seahawks came up short. But there would not have been the dramatic comeback without the resilient efforts and calm-as-they-come leadership of the rookie quarterback who was deemed by many to be “too short” to play in this league. It was so impressive that he should change the spelling of his last name to Will-son, because he did everything in his power to will his team into the NFC Championship game.
“The kid is going to be amazing,” veteran fullback Michael Robinson said. “He’s going to do nothing but get better.”
What Wilson did in this game, on this stage and after the Falcons had taken a 20-0 halftime lead, was pretty amazing, too.
He was 3 of 3 for 59 yards in the nine-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half that ended with his 29-yard TD pass to Golden Tate. He was 4 of 4 for 69 yards on the eight-play, 80-yard drive on the Seahawks’ next possession that ended with his 1-yard TD run. He was 3 of 3 for 57 yards on the four-play, 62-yard drive to was setup when All-Pro safety Earl Thomas intercepted a pass and ended with Wilson’s 3-yard TD pass to Zach Miller. He was 3 of 4 – proving that he is indeed human, on occasion – for 50 yards in the seven-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Marshawn Lynch’s 2-yard TD run and gave the Seahawks their momentary lead.
Put it all together and Wilson had a career-high 385 passing yards while completing 24 of his season-high 36 passes to finish with a passer rating of 109.1. Oh, and he also was the Seahawks’ leading rusher with 60 yards on seven carries.
“Our quarterback did a great job today leading us back,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”
In the end, it wasn’t quite enough. But without the way Wilson played in the second half, there would not have been all the handwringing about the way this one ended.
“I think you saw with Russell Wilson’s development, how far he can take us,” Miller said. “Obviously he’s a franchise quarterback. He’s a guy that wins game for you. We saw that today. He should have been credited with a comeback win today.”
Miller. The Seahawks’ tight end said he felt something pop in his foot on the team’s first series of the game, and his self-diagnosis was a torn plantar fasciitis.
“I kind of knew what it was,” Miller said. “I’ve done it on my other foot before, so I know I can play with it.”
His return was listed as questionable, but return Miller did. With a vengeance. Before this one was over, he had caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. In a game that featured the Falcons’ trio of Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones, as well as teammates Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, no one caught more balls for more yards that the sore-footed Miller.
“Zach Miller did a tremendous job today, and all season,” Wilson said. “He’s a true fighter. He makes great catches. He’s runs great routes. He’s a great blocker. He’s a tough, tough player. He’s unbelievable.”
It wasn’t just that Miller had eight receptions, it’s when he had them. It was Miller who caught Wilson’s first two completions – for 23 and 8 yards – after the Seahawks’ first two possessions resulted in a three-and-out and a lost fumble. It was Miller who opened the next possession with a 34-yarder. He later added a 20-yarder and a 9-yarder on the final series of the half, when Miller was one of most productive players in an offense that was struggling. In the second half, Miller had a 19-yarder on the drive to the first touchdown. Then there was a 26-yarder on the drive to the second touchdown. The next drive ended with his TD catch.
All from a tight who was playing on a bad foot.
REDEPMPTIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Ryan. You might have heard, the Falcons’ QB was oh-for-his-career in the postseason. Despite winning 56 regular-season games in five seasons, it was his 0-3 record in the playoffs that was the talk of this town all week.
Ryan finally silenced it, throwing for three touchdowns while completing 24 of 35 passes for 250 yards. But when his team needed him most, with 31 seconds to play and the Seahawks up 28-27, the QB they call “Matty Ice” was just that as he passed for 22 yards to Harry Douglas and 19 yards to Tony Gonzalez to setup the Falcons’ game-winning field goal.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Roddy White’s falling grab of a 47-yard pass from Ryan for the Falcons’ second touchdown. There were seven touchdown plays in this game. But this one came with style points. First, because White beat All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who broke up three other passes during the game. Then there was the effort that went into it. But also because it gave the Falcons their 20-0 halftime lead.
Defense: William Moore’s stop of Robinson on a fourth-and-1 play from the Falcons’ 11-yard line in the second quarter. Down 13-0, and after Robert Turbin had been tackled for no gain on third-and-1, the Seahawks went to Robinson – who converted 6 of 7 third-and-1 situations during the regular season to rank among the league leaders. But not this time, because of the play the Falcons’ safety was able to make.
“They did a great job,” Robinson said. “One of our staple plays. They brought extra D-linemen in; they set the safety off the edge. We didn’t have enough blockers for them.”
Honorable mention to Thomas’ interception, which stopped a Falcons drive just as it was getting started and set up the Seahawks’ third touchdown.
Special teams: When you kick the game-winner to send your team into the NFC Championship game – as hosts of the conference title game – it has to be you. So Matt Bryant it is, who hit a 49-yard field goal with eight second to play. The kick put the Falcons back up by two after the Seahawks had taken a one-point lead with 31 seconds remaining.
The Seahawks had more yards (491-417) and more first downs (28-24) than the Falcons, but two fewer points.
The Seahawks season ended in the divisional round of the playoffs for the sixth time. It also happened in 1984, 27-20 to the Dolphins in Miami; 1988, 21-13 to the Bengals in Cincinnati; 2006, 27-24 in overtime to the Bears in Chicago; 2007, 42-20 to the Packers in Green Bay; and 2010, 34-24 to the Bears in Chicago.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had a game-high seven solo tackles and an interception.
Playing without sack leader Chris Clemons, the Seahawks went without a sack for only the second time this season.
Lynch averaged 6.5 yards per carry during the team’s six-game winning streak, but a Falcons defense that had allowed an average of 4.8 yards per carry during the regular season held him to 2.9 (46 yards on 16 carries).
Ryan Longwell, who just joined the team on Wednesday, kicked four PATs.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We felt like this was our year. And next year we’re going to feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we’re not going to lack in confidence and we’re going to come to fight for 60 minutes.” – Robinson