Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Week 16 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.
Carroll addressed yesterday’s roster moves, noting that linebacker Kyle Knox has been added to the practice squad to fill the spot left by tight end Sean McGrath, who was promoted to the active roster with the release of tight end Evan Moore. Knox had spent time with the club during training camp earlier this season.
On the promotion of McGrath to the active roster, Carroll said they need to get special teams production out of that roster spot – something Moore did not provide. According to Carroll, McGrath has a “good chance” to see play time this Sunday.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch will sit out today’s practice as he rests a sprained ankle he suffered against the Bills. Carroll said Branch will “probably” sit out Thursday’s practice as well, with the hope they have him on the field by Friday and back in time for Sunday’s game against Niners.
In Branch’s place, rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs and fourth-year defensive tackle Clinton McDonald are expected to see play time.
On the injured cornerbacks – Marcus Trufant (hamstring) and Walter Thurmond (hamstring) – Carroll said they will know more about their status later in the week. In the meantime, rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane will see work as the second starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman, with second-year player Byron Maxwell working as the nickel corner.
Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. Until then, check out Carroll’s full video press conference below.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 18.
Yesterday afternoon the Seahawks made a practice squad roster move, releasing rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and adding rookie defensive end Monte Taylor.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times outlines the Seahawks postseason hopes heading into Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, “While Seattle is one victory away from clinching a playoff berth, Carroll said it’s not something he plans to hold out as a carrot heading into this week’s game against the division-leading San Francisco 49ers. ‘We’ve got another game after that one, too,’ Carroll said. ‘There’s still a lot of work to be done.’ And a wide range of postseason possibilities. Seattle has control of its own playoff fate, and still has a longshot chance of winning the NFC West. Earning a first-round bye isn’t impossible.”
O’Neil also has notes on the Seahawks injury situations a day after the club’s 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills, “The Seahawks don’t expect to have cornerbacks Walter Thurmond nor Marcus Trufant practicing when the team returns to work on Wednesday. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is still holding out hope that they might return from hamstring injuries and be available for the game Sunday night against San Francisco. … Defensive tackle Alan Branch left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, which the Seahawks are hoping doesn’t turn out to be as severe as initially feared. … Kicker Steven Hauschka appeared to be limping after a kickoff in Sunday’s game, but Carroll said he’s fine.”
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has an early preview of the Seahawks Sunday night matchup with the Niners, “Sunday’s game actually makes a broader statement than Carroll suggests, because this is a head-to-head duel for dominance in the division. Since the 2011 season, the Niners have played the role of the big brother who beats you in driveway basketball and then rubs it in every night at the family dinner table. They’ve taken four straight from the Seahawks, and last season made it to the NFC Championship game while the Seahawks stayed home and watched. An added degree of difficultly is that San Francisco isn’t just the divisional bully; the Niners now are at the top of many of the NFL power rankings. So, for the Seahawks to be the best in the division, they have to beat the best in the league. With a 9-5 record, with a three-game winning streak, with a presumptive franchise quarterback in place, an offense clicking at record levels, and a defense remembering how to force turnovers, the Seahawks have worked themselves into the position of being a worthy nemesis to the Niners.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald breaks down quarterback Russell Wilson’s nine rushes that went for 92 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Bills, “Wilson’s runs, one through nine, ended in these outcomes — ran out of bounds, scored, ran out of bounds, scored, slid, scored, ran out of bounds, ran out of bounds, and slipped before being touched down by a defender. Nine carries, no hits. That, more than Wilson’s athleticism, more than his ability to read a defense, is why what the Seahawks are doing with the zone-read option is sustainable. In Washington, Robert Griffin III is undoubtedly one of the most exciting players in the NFL, but the Redskins’ quarterback has had a concussion and a knee injury in his rookie season. Wilson? He’s barely been hit, and he almost never takes contact when rushing the ball. ‘It’s hugely important,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘It’s part of us trusting to continue to work it. He knows the necessity of getting out of those plays without taking the big hit. He shouldn’t pull the ball unless he’s got a lot of space. He didn’t get it right every time, but it’s really important for the longevity of that aspect of the offense. I love when he runs it out of bounds, makes six or seven yard, and then gets out and gets down on the ground when he has to.’ ”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press looks ahead to the game against the Niners and showcases the impact of the Seahawks’ zone-read, “The zone-read was added to the run game, allowing Wilson the ability to keep and use his athleticism or handoff to Marshawn Lynch. That little wrinkle has paid off especially the past three weeks. Wilson ran for 71 yards in Seattle’s overtime win at Chicago three weeks ago – then a Seattle team record – then rushed for 92 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win over Buffalo. At the same time, the holes have become larger for Lynch because the defense must now respect Wilson as a runner. In his past two games, Lynch has just 21 carries, but rushed for 241 yards, four touchdowns and averaged 11.5 yards per carry. Through the first 11 games, Lynch had 19 runs of 10 or more yards. In the past three games, he has 14. Wilson has vaulted up to third in the league in yards rushing among quarterbacks with a franchise single-season record 402 yards. ‘It all fits together. The problems that are presented with the quarterback runs make for some opportunities,’ Carroll said. ‘… What’s really exciting is what we’re doing up front too with the blocking and figuring out the schemes and reading well and taking advantage of the looks.’ ”
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss rookie sack-leader Bruce Irvin’s impact along the defensive line in this short video.
Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” talk about the Seahawks identity as a club in this short video.
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Monday, detailing playoff scenarios and injury updates.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “Stock Watch“, noting the rise of the rookie quarterback Wilson, “Wilson’s stock was already high, but he earned a spot atop the list with a record-setting performance during Seattle’s 50-17 victory over Buffalo. Wilson became the first player in NFL history to provide three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown in a first half. His Total QBR score for the game was 99.3, the highest qualifying single-game score in the NFL this season.”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth recaps the activities surrounding “Monday in Hawkville” and has a look at what worked and what needs work after Sunday’s game against the Bills in his “Monday Metatarsal Musings.”
Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella review the Seahawks victory over the Bills in this short video.
Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily“, rehashing coach Carroll’s Monday press conference.
We have coach Carroll’s full video press conference from Monday available for you here and you can relive several big play calls from Sunday’s win over the Bills from radio play-by-play man Steve Raible in this audio clip.
We leave you with fullback Michael Robinson’s latest episode of “The Real Rob Report”:
A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 17:
The obvious. It’s just that what’s obvious depends on who you’re talking to.
Obvious No. 1: The Seahawks are hosting the NFC West-leading 49ers on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field. After their impressive and then resilient performance in last night’s win over the Patriots in New England that pushed their record to 10-3-1, the 49ers can clinch the division title by beating the Seahawks; or the 9-5 Seahawks can keep their division-title hopes alive with a win over the 49ers.
Obvious No. 2: The Seahawks hold the No. 5 seed – or first wild-card spot – in the NFC playoff picture. But right behind them at 8-6 are the Bears, Giants, Cowboys and Vikings (The Redskins also are 8-6 but currently lead the NFC East). The Seahawks hold the tiebreaker against the Bears, Cowboys and Vikings because they beat each team this season. But the only way to insure making it to the postseason is to keep winning during the regular season.
Obvious No. 3: The Seahawks are one hot team, having won their past three games – two of them on the road – and in the past two weeks becoming the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games.
When each obvious item was broached during his weekly day-after Q&A session this afternoon, coach Pete Carroll smiled, and then offered his own version of the obvious.
“We ain’t done nothing yet,” he said when asked about the playoff patter. “When that happens, it happens. Every one of these games are championship matchups. Every one of them makes the statement that you’re still in it, or you’re finally in it and you get it.
“We’ve just got to go play this football game and play it really, really well. And if that’s the result, then that’s OK. We’ve got another game after that one, too. There’s still a lot of work to be done here. I don’t think it’s a factor, really. It shouldn’t be. We’ve got to go win a football game, regardless of whether there was something hanging out there or not.”
This attitude that each game is a championship game and the goal each week is to go 1-0 has served the Seahawks beyond well as they’ve won five of their past six games. But after Sunday’s 50-17 victory over the Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, several players said that Carroll’s championship-game approach really applied to this week’s game. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-7 in San Francisco in Week 7, so there’s payback as well as postseason positioning on the line for the rematch.
And Carroll knows there will be no extra motivational work to be done this week.
“All we can do is really focus on this game right here. We’ll have no trouble focusing,” he said. “They’re a great team. And coming home and all that, it will be exciting to get ready.”
After this week, the Seahawks will host the St. Louis Rams on the 30th, while the 49ers will close their regular season by hosting the Cardinals.
“Coming home, with the last two games here at the stadium, it’s a great opportunity for our fans and we want to really play well in this setting,” Carroll said. “It’s an exciting way to come down, finishing in the division. And it starts with San Francisco this weekend.”
The ankle that defensive tackle Alan Branch sprained against the Bills is not as serious as first anticipated.
“He came out way better than we thought,” Carroll said. “We’ll rest him, probably until Friday. We’re thinking he might have a chance to make it back. So that’s very encouraging, because we thought after the game he would not be able to do that. We’ll see how that goes.”
Carroll said he also has his fingers crossed that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant might be able to return this week. Trufant has missed the past three games and Thurmond sat out against the Bills – both with hamstring injuries.
Defensive lineman Jason Jones (sore knee) and leading receiver Sidney Rice (sore foot) also could be limited in practice this week.
PRACTICE SQUAD ROULETTE
Defensive end Monte Taylor has been signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei was released.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Taylor was signed by the Seahawks after the NFL Draft in April, but released in June and claimed off waivers by the Eagles.
STAT DU JOUR
Bobby Wagner had another game with double-digit tackles (12) against the Bills, his fifth of the season. In the past nine games, the rookie middle linebacker is averaging 10.3 tackles. With his first tackle in Sunday night’s game against the 49ers, Wagner will tie Keith Butler for the second-most tackles in a season by a Seahawks rookie. With 16 in the final two games, he will set a franchise record for most tackles by a rookie in a season. Here’s a look at where Wagner currently ranks:
Player (year) Tackles (solo/assists)
LB Terry Beeson (1977) 136 (110/26)
LB Keith Butler (1978) 122 (83/39)
LB Bobby Wagner (2012) 121 (77/44)
SS Kenny Easley (1981) 107 (79/28)
LB Lofa Tatupu (2005) 105 (86/19)
The players were “off” today for a “Victory Monday” and will have their usual “off” day on Tuesday. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for Sunday night’s game.
Center Max Under will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.
YOU DON’T SAY
“A perfect game for Russell Wilson, just the way Wilson wants to play – running a lot, playing option football, playing from the pocket. ‘Whatever we call, we know something good can happen with Russell right now,’ said coach Pete Carroll after the 50-17 rout of Buffalo in Toronto. Wilson rushed nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He completed 14 of 23 for 205 yards and a touchdown. Wilson’s been such a revelation that, week by week, it’s hard to fathom how good he’s become versus the image of what 90 percent of the NFL coaching and scouting community had of him before the draft.” – Peter King, in naming the Seahawks rookie QB as one of his offensive players of the week in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com
TORONTO – A recap of the Seahawks’ 50-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Russell Wilson. Like last week’s 58-0 shellacking of the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field, this could be a full squad selection because so many players made contributions and everyone got to play. But what the rookie QB did was special.
Wilson became the first QB in franchise history to rush for three touchdowns in a game – on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He threw for a fourth – on a 4-yard pass to tight end Zach Miller. He carried nine times for 92 yards, giving him 402 for the season to break the club record of 343 by Rick Mirer in 1993. His 10.2-yard rushing average was the third-best in franchise history behind the efforts of Marshawn Lynch in the past two games – 11.6 against the Cardinals last week and 11.3 against the Bills on Sunday.
He also completed 14 of 23 passes for 205 yards and did not throw an interception, which made for a passer rating of 104.4.
All in a day’s work as the kid QB continues to grow in the offense, and allow the offense to grow because of him.
“You saw him out there,” said right tackle Breno Giacomini, who more than did his part by holding Mario Williams to no sacks and one QB hit after the Bills defensive end entered the game with 10.5 sacks. “He’s getting better by the week. His preparation is there. He just keeps getting better and we just keep getting better with him.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: It wasn’t a touchdown run, but Lynch’s 54-yarder in the second quarter to setup Wilson’s TD pass to Miller definitely proved a point. It was the Bills who made Lynch the 12th pick overall in 2007 NFL Draft. It was the Bills who traded Lynch to the Seahawks in 2010 for next-to-nothing. On that run, as on just about all of Lynch’s runs, he showed his strength, determination and more speed and shiftiness than anyone gives him credit for.
It also allowed Lynch to finish with 113 yards on just 10 carries, for his eighth 100-yard rushing performance of the season.
Defense: Earl Thomas didn’t just make a diving interception of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass in the third quarter, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl free safety returned it 57 yards for a touchdown. And it was another of those uh-plays, where Thomas’ speed makes it appear that everyone else on the field has stopped running because he is running so fast.
“It was a great feeling,” Thomas said of his third interception of the season. “As soon as I caught the ball, I was thinking end zone – especially this season. I could have had eight or nine picks this season. But this was just a great play, gave our defense a lift and kept the momentum on our side.”
Special teams: The Seahawks had practiced a fake punt during the week and called it on Sunday, despite leading 47-17 at the time. The snap from Clint Gresham went to Chris Maragos, rather than punter Jon Ryan. Maragos handed the ball off to Michael Robinson, who ran 29 yards to the Bills’ 14-yard line.
Coach Pete Carroll explained that they were just trying to pick up a first down, and apologized if it looked like they were kicking the Bills when they already were down. But the play did slap an exclamation point on the 17-yard, 88-yard drive that allowed the Seahawks to hold the ball for more than nine minutes of the fourth quarter and setup Steven Hauschka’s third field goal of the day.
Turning point: It might sound crazy to say there was a turning point in this game. But after the Bills had scored 10 points in the final 70 seconds of the first half to cut the Seahawks lead to 31-17, Stevie Johnson made a leaping one-handed grab of a pass from Fitzpatrick on the third play of the third quarter – a third-and-20 play, no less – for a 25-yard gain and a first down at the Buffalo 39. But on the next play, linebacker K.J. Wright picked Fitzpatrick and returned the interception 24 yards to setup Lynch’s TD that pushed the Seahawks lead to 37-17.
“We knew we just had to come out and stop them,” Wright said. “Somebody had to do something, and fortunately I was able to come up with the turnover.”
Defensive tackle Alan Branch sprained an ankle and Carroll said he wasn’t sure how severe the injury was. Other than that, the postgame report included nothing more than bumps and bruises.
The Seahawks became the NFL’s third team to score 50 points in consecutive weeks, joining the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, who both did it in 1950, according to STATS Inc. And the 108 combined points over two weeks matched the NFL’s third-highest total. The New England also scored 108 points in consecutive games last month.
With 2.5 sacks, Chris Clemons upped his season total to a career-high 11.5 – half a sack more than he produced in each of his first two seasons with the Seahawks. It also made the Leo end the first Seahawk to have double-digit sacks in three consecutive seasons since Michael Sinclair (1996-98).
Rookie Jeremy Lane made his first NFL start at right cornerback for Walter Thurmond, who injured a hamstring in practice Wednesday. Lane was all over Fitzpatrick’s long – and incomplete – throw to T.J. Graham on the Bills’ first pass play of the game and finished with three tackles.
While Wilson continued to make his case for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner continued to do the same for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He had a game-high 12 tackles, the fifth time this season he has posted double digits.
The Seahawks had three plays for 40-plus yards – Lynch’s run, as well as Wilson’s 44-yard pass to Golden Tate and a 41-yarder to Sidney Rice. The 44-yarder came after Wilson pitched the ball to Lynch, who threw the ball back to Wilson, who then completed the pass to Tate.
Despite the lopsided score, the Bills had a 100-yard receiver (Johnson with 115 on eight receptions) and a 100-yard rusher (C.J. Spiller with 103). They also had only one less first down (21) than the Seahawks (22).
Hauschka had another busy week, with three field goals, six PATs (one was blocked) and 10 kickoffs. Last week against the Cardinals, he had 21 kicks.
YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL-EXPOSURE EDITION
“I watched a lot of tape and it was probably the most physical game I’ve watched all year.” – former Pro Bowl safety Rodney Harrison, on the pregame show for Sunday night’s 49ers-Patriots game, discussing the Seahawks-49ers game in Week 7
YOU DON’T SAY, LOCKER-ROOM EDITION
“I’ve never been a part of something where two weeks in a row we’re able to put up so many points.” – Miller on the back-to-back 58-0 and 50-17 victories, the first time since 1950 that an NFL team has done that
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 2:
Doug Baldwin. Again? Again. Yesterday, when Baldwin also was focused on, the second-year receiver declared himself ready to play in Sunday’s game against the Vikings at CenturyLink Field, despite getting a high ankle sprain just 15 days ago in the loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.
Today, the word came from an even more definitive source: Coach Pete Carroll.
“Doug looks to be ready to go,” Carroll said after practice, when the team took advantage of the dry spell to work outside of the second consecutive day. “He had a full week of practice, which surprised us. Coming out of Monday, we weren’t sure. And then he just practiced on Wednesday, got through it and had a good week. So we’re hoping he’s going to play.”
Baldwin is listed as probable for Sunday’s game.
This shouldn’t be happening. The recovery period for a high ankle sprain started at a month and usually lasts even longer.
“He made a miraculous recovery,” Carroll said. “He had a high ankle sprain that showed up on the MRI and he made it back in a week’s time, which we can’t even explain it. But he pulled it off.”
And Baldwin’s return comes at an optimum time, with Braylon Edwards out because of the same knee issue that forced him to miss last week’s game against the Lions in Detroit and Ben Obomanu going on injured reserve after damaging his wrist against the Lions. Rookie free agent Jermaine Kearse was signed off the practice squad to replace Obomanu and will play against the Vikings.
It’s been a tough season for Baldwin, who was sidelined for most of training camp and all of the preseason with a hamstring injury; had his front teeth knocked out in the season opener against the Cardinals; injured a shoulder in practice that forced him to miss a game; and then got the ankle injury when another player fell into his leg while he was blocking on a punt return.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “But that happens. It’s the game of football. So I’ve just got to move on and keep going forward.”
Walter Thurmond. The third-year cornerback completed his second week of practice, and Carroll said the decision on whether Thurmond is added to the 53-man roster will be made before game time.
“Walter had a great week, and he’s had two good weeks. He’s been impressive out here,” Carroll said.
Thurmond began the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list after having surgery on his left leg twice in a five-month period – the second coming in March. He could practice next week, as well, before the team has to determine if he’ll be added to the roster.
Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings’ leader in offensive touchdowns is not Percy Harvin, or even Adrian Peterson. It’s the second-year tight end from Notre Dame. Rudolph is getting more opportunities because former Seahawks tight end John Carlson is sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, and making the most of them with five TD catches among his 27 receptions for 242 yards.
“For a (young) player, he’s got a lot of savvy,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “The running game is so big for them, that’s where it all starts. They get you where it’s run, run and he’s blocking out and blocking out. Next thing you know, he blocks out and flips out and gets open – especially down in the red zone.”
Rudolph’s scoring plays have come on passes of 6, 1, 2, 15 and 1 yards.
“He’s a big body-type tight end who gets on you and uses his strength on you,” Bradley said of the 6-foot-6, 258-pound Rudolph.
The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:
WR Braylon Edwards (knee)
DT Jason Jones (ankle)
OG James Carpenter (illness)
DL Greg Scruggs (oblique)
CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)
OG John Moffitt (knee)
DT Alan Branch (not injury related)
Branch was excused from practice today because of a death in his family, but he is scheduled to be back and play on Sunday. Scruggs returned to practice after sitting out yesterday to rest a strained oblique and Carroll said he is ready to go for Sunday. Carpenter left the field during practice, so his status is uncertain.
For the Vikings:
TE John Carlson (concussion)
S Mistral Raymond (ankle)
RB Adrian Peterson (ankle)
CB Antoine Winfield (knee)
WR Percy Harvin (hamstring)
DT Fred Evans (knee)
DT Letroy Guion (ribs)
LB Erin Henderson (elbow)
P Chris Kluwe (left knee)
QB Christian Ponder (knee)
Peterson did not practice today because of soreness in his left ankle, but Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told reporters who cover the team, “He’ll be ready to go on Sunday. We just wanted to give him a little rest prior to the game.”
When Carroll was asked about Harvin’s status, he offered, “He’s going. He’s playing. I’ll help you out on that one.”
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks have had mixed results in defending tight ends this season. With Rudolph coming to town, here’s a look at how opposing tight ends have fared against the Seattle defense in the first eight games:
Player, team vs. Seahawks Season totals
Jeff King, Cardinals 2-8 11-102
Jason Witten, Cowboys 4-58 51-487
Jermichael Finley, Packers 4-60 28-265
Lance Kendricks, Rams 2-22 20-165
Greg Olsen, Panthers 2-37 29-347
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots 6-61 43-580
Vernon Davis, 49ers 0-0 25-374
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions 7-74 38-374
The players will hold a walkthrough on Saturday morning.
The team’s annual Tackle Hunger drive will be held at Sunday’s game, so fans are asked to bring nonperishable food or cash donations that will benefit Northwest Harvest. The American Red Cross also will have volunteers at the game collecting cash donations to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Also, daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning, so be sure to turn your clocks back one hour on Saturday night to avoid arriving at the game too early.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I don’t talk a lot. I just got out there and try and get the job done. I’m sure we’re going to exchange a few words, but it won’t be nothing serious.” – Sidney Rice, the Seahawks, leading receiver, on facing the team he played for from 2007-10.
When: Thursday, 5:20 p.m., Candlestick Park, San Francisco
Records: Both teams are 4-2 and share the NFC West lead with the Cardinals
TV: NFL Network and KONG, with Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan
Radio: 710 ESPN and KIRO 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: Cardinals (4-2) at Vikings and Packers at Rams (3-3) on Sunday
49ers QB Alex Smith vs. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: This isn’t that kind of matchup – mano-a-mano – but the play of the opposing quarterbacks definitely will impact the outcome in this battle of NFC West co-leaders. And they’re coming at it during a short week to prepare for everything the opposing defenses can throw at them, and from opposite directions off their most-recent outings. Wilson had the best game of his rookie season, passing for two touchdowns in the final 7½ minutes as the Seahawks rallied for a one-point victory over the Patriots as the capper to his 16-of-27, 293-yard, three-TD effort. Smith, meanwhile, threw three interceptions in an eight-pass span and was sacked four times in what looked like a turn-back-the-clock outing in a 26-3 loss to the Giants. Can Wilson continue his rapid progression against the league’s No. 1-ranked defense? Can Smith recapture his efficient touch that was vital to the 49ers going 13-3 last season and winning four of their first five games this season against the Seahawks’ defense that is better than the one he beat twice last season?
One to watch
The Seahawks’ No. 2-ranked run defense vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: As with the Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch, everything the 49ers do offensively starts with Gore. He moves the chains, as well as the pile. His running sets up the play-action passing game. So the Seahawks cannot allow Gore to get going as he did in rushing for 212 yards against them in 2006 or 207 yards in 2009, when he scored on runs of 80 and 79 yards. But this isn’t the same defense that was Gore-d in the past. To contain him, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, three-tech tackle Alan Branch and 330-pound end Red Bryant have to clog the running lanes, and also keep blockers off the linebacking trio of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Leroy Hill. The Seahawks are allowing averages of 70 rushing yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. Gore is averaging 78.3 and 5.4.
Fun to watch
Seahawks FB Michael Robinson vs. 49ers LB Patrick Willis: They used to be teammates, as Robinson played with the 49ers for four seasons before joining the Seahawks in 2010. They also were members of the NFC Pro Bowl squad last season. Thursday night, however, they will be on a collision course, as Robinson is now the knock-their-block-off lead blocker for Lynch and Willis is the I-dare-you-to-run-my-way centerpiece of a 49ers defense that has allowed only two 100-yard rushers in its past 46 regular-season games – Lynch in Week 16 last season and the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw on Sunday.
One tough task, 49ers version
Whoever lines up at left tackle vs. Seahawks DE Chris Clemons: Starter Joe Staley went out of the 49ers’ game against the Giants on Sunday with a concussion, and he has been limited in practice this week. When Staley left, Alex Boone, the first-year starter at right guard, moved to left tackle. Either will have his hands full with Clemons, who leads the Seahawks with 7.0 sacks and continues to come oh-so-close to even more sacks with his relentless rushes. Clemons hit Patriots QB Tom Brady three times on Sunday, and has 12 for the season.
One tough task, Seahawks version
Whoever lines up vs. 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith: Any of the Seahawks’ five O-linemen could see Smith on any given down, as the 49ers move him depending on the front and package they’re playing. Smith already has 48 tackles, 19 QB hits and 30 pressures, and often causes the disruption that leads to others making the play. “One-on-one, you don’t really want to be in a battle with him,” Robinson said. “He’s a pretty tough player. So you’ve definitely got to find out where he is on every play.”
The 49ers swept the season series against the Seahawks last season for the first time since 2006, and have won four of the past six meetings. … Lynch leads the NFC with 549 rushing yards and has at least 85 rushing yards in 13 of his past 15 games. … In the Week 16 game last season, Lynch not only became the first back to rush for more than 100 yards against the 49ers since 2009, he also was the first to score a rushing touchdown against them in 2011. … Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin had a TD catch in both games against the 49ers last season. … Since 2006, Gore has 7,487 rushing yards, the second-highest total in the league during that span. … The 49ers are averaging a league-high 176.8 rushing yards, while the Seahawks are allowing an average of 70.0 to rank second in the league. … Smith has beaten the Seahawks three consecutive times and is 7-1 in his past eight starts against the NFC West. … Linebacker NaVorro Bowman leads the 49ers with 72 tackles, but Willis leads them in solo tackles (38). … Wright and strong safety Kam Chancellor have 43 tackles to lead the Seahawks.
The term “genius” has been used in the same sentence as Bill Belichick on more than one occasion, especially when it comes to compiling a defense and playing defense. In fact, Google “Belichick” and “genius” and you get about 276,000 matches.
In fact, part II: In 2008, when the Patriots were preparing to play the Giants in the Super Bowl, William Rhoden of the New York Times wrote, “With all due respect to Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry and Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick is the genius coach of all time.”
Belichick and his Patriots are coming to CenturyLink Field on Sunday, but look who’s got the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense: The Seahawks.
Here’s Belichick’s take on the defense his No. 1-ranked offense will face on Sunday, from a conference-call interview this morning:
“They’re the top defense in the league for a good reason. First of all, they’re very well coached – Pete (Carroll) does a great job, we all know that. They’ve been strong against the run, taken the ball away a lot, caused a lot of fumbles. They’ve got a real good pass rush, good pass defenders. A lot of good players.
“Really impressed with the front. Red Bryant and (Brandon) Mebane, they do a great job in the running game. (Alan) Branch, he’s solid in there, too. (Jason) Jones, (Chris) Clemons, (Bruce) Irvin, (Greg) Scruggs, those guys can all rush the passer. Their linebackers are fast. (Leroy) Hill, (K.J.) Wright, (Bobby) Wagner, those guys they get to a lot of ball, they don’t get blocked very often and they close space in a hurry. Probably the biggest corners in the league (Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman). (Marcus) Trufant is an outstanding player who comes in for them on the nickel. (Kam) Chancellor is a big, physical force in there at safety. And Earl Thomas probably is as good a safety as we’ve played against. He’s got great instincts, vision, speed, ball skills. I mean he’s a real playmaker back there.
“It’s a real good defensive football team. There’s no doubt about it.”
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” following the Seahawks 16-12 road victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times catches up with a few of the Seahawks’ “Magnificent Eleven” defense after Sunday’s victory, who have not allowed an offensive touchdown in 128 minutes of play, “How long has it been since the Seahawks defense surrendered a touchdown? ‘Man, I don’t know and I don’t really care,’ safety Kam Chancellor said. ‘We don’t want to give up any touchdowns. This is just the way we play.’ ‘ I would say an hour and some change,’ defensive tackle Alan Branch said. How long? The answer is 128 minutes. ‘How many?’ defensive end Jason Jones asked. ‘One hundred twenty-eight minutes? Wow. That’s pretty impressive.’ ‘Wooh!’ Branch said. ‘I’ll take that every time.’ Two hours and eight minutes. ‘That’s crazy,’ rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin said. ‘I mean crazy. This is one of the elite defenses in the league.’ ‘One twenty-eight? Dang, that is a long time,’ Chancellor said. ‘But we’ve got to keep it going. It’s a long season, man.’ ”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his game story from Sunday, “Just when it seemed the Seahawks had lost control of another winnable game, that defense simply reached out and took it back. [Cornerback Brandon] Browner did it with the fumble that led to Seattle’s only touchdown of the game. Cornerback Richard Sherman did it, forcing a fourth-quarter fumble that cost Carolina a first down. Defensive end Bruce Irvin finished it off, ending Carolina’s final possession by forcing a fumble on a sack. Throw in a goal-line stand with three minutes remaining to give Seattle a victory that shouldn’t have been that close in the first place, and could have been divisive, but instead showcased Seattle’s resolve. ‘It definitely shows a lot about our defense,’ safety Earl Thomas said. ‘Nobody points the fingers. We all had the same mentality. I always say when the defense is on one accord, we’re communicating like we did tonight, even though it wasn’t pretty we’re going to win a lot of games.’ ”
O’Neil details the play of Irvin yesterday, noting his pass-rushing progression he has displayed through Week 5, “…it was Irvin who punctuated the victory, ending Carolina’s final possession before it really got going. The Panthers had the ball at their 31 with 53 seconds left, and on the second play of the drive, Irvin forced a fumble on a sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the Seahawks recovering and running out the clock. It was Irvin’s second sack in the game, giving him 4 ½ this season. Irvin got off to a slow start in August, failing to record a sack in any of the first three exhibition games, but he’s gaining momentum as part of a defense that squelched two Carolina drives in the final four minutes. ‘It was left up to us,’ Irvin said, ‘and we had a big goal-line stand and we had another series where we came out and forced an end to the game. We’ve got an aggressive defense, and we look forward to situations like that.’ ”
O’Neil deciphers quarterback Russell Wilson’s ability to bounce back from a mistake, as the pick-six he threw in the second half gave the Panthers their only touchdown of the game, “Wilson completed seven of his next 11 passes, including the touchdown to Golden Tate that gave Seattle the lead. Wilson was intercepted again, but that was a pass that was in the hands of running back Marshawn Lynch before it was knocked loose. How did Wilson bounce back from the mistake? ‘The main thing is having amnesia,’ Wilson said. ‘That’s what I always say. Whether it is good or bad, you have to forget about it.’ Wilson said he had a word written on his wrist band for the game: Poise. That’s what Carroll felt his rookie showed as he returned to the state where he spent four years playing at North Carolina State before transferring to Wisconsin in 2011.”
O’Neil also names Browner and linebacker Bobby Wagner his players of the game in his two-minute drill, “Cornerback Brandon Browner had six tackles, tied for most on the team, but it was his forced fumble and recovery with 2:37 left in the third quarter that turned the momentum. Linebacker Bobby Wagner had a sack and a half, but he was also a key to Seattle’s ability to defend Carolina’s option rushing offense. A rookie, Wagner stayed on the field in passing situations with the nickel defense for the first time this season and finished with six tackles.”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps the dominant performance of the Seahawks defense in Sunday’s win, “Entering Sunday’s game, Carolina had been averaging 10 explosive plays a contest – passes of 16 or more yards, or runs of 12 yards or more. But Carolina finished with just six of those on Sunday, and failed to score a touchdown on offense. Seattle’s suffocating defense has given up just two touchdowns the last four games. ‘That was an extraordinary job by our defense because that’s the most explosive team that we’ve faced,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘They’ve proven last year with their numbers, and again coming in with 40-something (43) explosive plays. To throw together a defensive effort like that I think is really a statement about our guys.’ ”
Williams also looks back at the Seahawks’ impressive goal-line stand in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, “Carolina’s charismatic quarterback had a chance to win the game for the Panthers, but on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line with just over four minutes remaining, he short-hopped a wide-open Ben Hartsock in the end zone. ‘We were expecting that he was going to jump over the top,’ Carroll said. ‘And so everybody was ready and raring to go. But when he pulled out to throw the football it was like, ‘Hallelujah, we’ve got a chance.’’ Added Seattle safety Earl Thomas: ‘When it was time for us to bow up, we bowed up. And that shows a lot about our defense. We’re just not giving up points.’ ”
Also from Williams, he notes the increased involvement of wide receiver Sidney Rice in Seattle’s offense, “Playing in front of more than 100 family and friends, Seattle’s go-to receiver Sidney Rice finally emerged as an important part of his team’s game plan against Carolina. Rice grew up in Gaffney, S.C., about an hour south of Charlotte. The South Carolina product finished with a game-high five receptions for 67 yards. Four of Rice’s catches were good for first downs. Rice came into Sunday’s game with a total of just 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown through the first four games.’Sidney’s been terrific,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘Every game he’s made big plays and big catches. The one over the middle where Russell (Wilson) hung him out there a little bit, that was a great play for him to hang on to the football. He’s playing terrific football. We’re just not getting him the ball a lot. But when we call on him he’s making things happen.’ ”
Brady Henderson of mynorthwest.com recaps the play of the Seahawks’ defense in the win over Carolina, “Minutes after the Seahawks defense made a big statement in Sunday’s win over Carolina, cornerback Richard Sherman made one of his own. ‘We’ve got the best secondary out there in football,’ Sherman told Jen Mueller on the postgame show, ‘and I think we’ve got two of the best corners in football.’ After the role that unit played in shutting down Cam Newton and holding Carolina’s offense to just three points, it’s hard to argue with him. The Seahawks defense didn’t allow an offensive touchdown for the second straight week, and their secondary was again a major reason why. There were plenty of key plays turned in by that group on Sunday, but none bigger than the fumble that cornerback Brandon Browner forced and recovered in the third quarter.”
Mike Salk of mynorthwest.com says the Seahawks got an important, much-needed win at Carolina, “A great defense needs to do three things, and in the second half the Seahawks did all three: Get off the field: In the second half, Carolina had just one drive longer than five plays. Create turnovers: Brandon Browner made the play of the year, stripping DeAngelo Williams and nearly running away with the ball himself. Richard Sherman forced a Jonathan Stewart fumble that was recovered by Carolina but took away a first down and led to a punt. And Bruce Irvin ended things with a strip-sack of Cam Newton. Limit points in the red zone: It’s not every day a monster like Newton gets four shots inside the 5-yard line and fails to score. Credit has to go to Browner, Alan Branch, Chris Clemons and others who made it happen. Oh, and a special thanks to Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski for calling a pass on fourth-and-1. Thanks, Rob!”
The staff at SportsPressNW.com has their game story from Sunday highlighting the play of Wilson, “Wilson, who threw three interceptions last week at St. Louis, leading many to call for his benching in favor of veteran Matt Flynn, had his best game, completing 19 of 25 for a career-high 225 yards and a passer rating of 82.3. Only one of his passes, the one he intended for McCoy that Munnerlyn returned for a TD, was a bad one. ‘Wilson, I thought, had a fantastic game,’ said Carroll. ‘It was a huge improvement for us. He’s a stud competitor, he has so much belief in himself and he doesn’t let stuff phase him when he makes a mistake. He has an extraordinary belief in himself and it was great to see that. He just hung tough.’ ”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his updated QBR ranks for NFC West quarterbacks after Sunday’s games, “Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (51.7 QBR, 82.3 NFL rating): Wilson completed 19 of 25 passes (76 percent) for 221 yards with one TD, two INTs, two sacks and zero fumbles. He rushed five times for 12 yards. Wilson needed strong backing from his defense to win this game after Carolina returned one of his two interceptions for a go-ahead TD in the second half. Overall, though, Wilson made clear progress. Seattle appeared to have actual weapons on offense for stretches of this game, a departure from recent form. Sidney Rice played with flair. Golden Tate’s big-play ability showed up on a 13-yard catch-and-run for a TD, and on a 56-yard reception wiped out by penalty. The Panthers sent five or more pass-rushers on only six plays, the fewest Wilson has faced this season (St. Louis 8, Dallas 7). Wilson completed 3 of 4 passes for 36 yards with one INT and one sack against this added pressure.”
Sando has a look at the Seahawks’ progress through Week 5, pointing to the play of Seattle’s first three 2012 draft choices, “This was also a good game for Seattle’s rookie draft class, at least near the top. First-round defensive end Bruce Irvin secured the outcome with a fumble-forcing sack. Irvin now has 4.5 sacks, putting him on pace for more than 14 sacks this season. That would put Irvin on pace for a season similar to the one Aldon Smith enjoyed as a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers last season. Seattle could live with that, for sure. Second-round middle linebacker Bobby Wagner made impact plays, including when he tracked down Cam Newton for a 4-yard loss. That play fired up Wagner’s defensive teammates while showing speed and playmaking ability. Wagner is now getting work in the nickel defense, too. He was one of five Seattle defenders to play every snap Sunday. Wilson, the Seahawks’ third-round choice, vastly outplayed Newton.”
Sando brings an interesting Wilson statistic from Sunday’s matchup, “Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed all 10 pass attempts for 141 yards and a touchdown when targeting receivers in the middle of the field, defined as between the yard-line numbers. He had completed 30 of 45 such passes for 282 yards with one score, three interceptions and a 63.4 NFL passer rating on those throws previously this season.”
Lastly from Sando, he has his wrap-up following Sunday’s victory, “What I liked: Bruce Irvin’s fumble-forcing sack in the final minute capped a dominant defensive performance as Seattle preserved the victory. The defense held Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to 3-of-15 passing in the first half. The Seahawks had been weak on third-and-long this season, but that changed when Irvin sacked Newton for a 13-yard loss on third-and-10, the Panthers’ only play of third-and-8 or longer during the first half. Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner also brought down Newton for a loss. On offense, the Seahawks scored on their opening possession for the second week in a row and the third time in their past four games. They have one touchdown and three field goal attempts on opening drives this season. Wilson was much sharper early in this game, completing 12 of 13 passes for 123 yards in the first half. Wide receivers Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate made plays early. Seattle converted four times on its first eight third-down plays, a big improvement from the recent past. Baldwin’s long-awaited emergence was particularly encouraging for Seattle. Seattle’s defense continued to dominate in the second half, giving the offense second chances. And when Wilson found Tate for a 13-yard scoring pass in the third quarter, the Seahawks were back in front despite all those turnovers. Marshawn Lynch’s powerful 11-yard run in the fourth quarter helped the Seahawks protect their 16-10 lead heading toward the fourth quarter.”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his “Game at a glance“, naming the Seahawks defense as his “Players of the Game” and he recaps the ability of the Seahawks’ defense to secure the win on the road in his game story.
And finally, we have a look at Sunday’s victory in photos.
Coach Carroll’s Monday press conference, which is usually scheduled for 3 p.m., has been moved to 2:30 p.m. Stay tuned to Seahawks.com for a live look in at Carroll’s reaction following yesterday’s big road win.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks and the NFL for today, September 27.
Late last night the NFL and NFLRA issued a joint statement citing the end of the NFL officiating crew’s lockout, and the regular referees are scheduled to be back in action for this weekend’s games, starting with tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. You can read the joint statement and full press release with the details of the new agreement here.
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 about this Seahawks team after Monday night’s matchup with the Packers, “The defense can’t do everything. It came close. Seattle shut out Green Bay for the first half and after the Seahawks failed to score from the Packers 7 in the fourth quarter, the defense very nearly forced the critical turnover when safety Earl Thomas ripped the ball loose from Cedric Benson. Green Bay’s 12 points were the fewest for the Packers in any game since the regular-season finale in 2010, and it represents the fourth-lowest total of any game Aaron Rodgers started in his NFL career.”
O’Neil also has his Wednesday practice report, saying that guard James Carpenter could be set to return to game action this week, “The Seahawks are about to get a big lineman back, though, as James Carpenter — last year’s first-round pick — could be ready to play this week after recovering from a serious knee injury suffered last year. ‘He’s live and in action this week,’ Carroll said. ‘Carp is back to life. He has done a great job in the process of getting back here. This is Week 4. We’re thrilled that he’s got a chance. He has a chance to play this week. We’ll see how it goes. He’ll be playing at left guard, and we’ll see how all that fits. He has to make it through the week, but he’s really excited about it. It has been a tremendous comeback, and he’s way out ahead of schedule, and he has had no setbacks to note at all. We’ll see how it makes it and we’ll look forward to him playing.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune notes the impressive play of the Seahawks’ defense on Monday night, which has been somewhat lost in the shuffle surrounding the game’s final play, “Seattle’s defense held the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers to 87 yards in the first half, and kept the Green Bay quarterback from throwing a touchdown pass for the first time in 20 games. Through three games, Seattle’s defense is No. 1 in points allowed (13 a game), No. 2 in rushing defense (58.7 yards per game) and No. 4 in total defense (272.3 yards per game). ‘They played one of the best games I’ve ever watched,’ Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said. ‘Going against one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game, to keep them from scoring that many points is just amazing, and all this drama is overshadowing that.’ ”
Williams also says that Head Coach Pete Carroll has come out and taken the blame for “keeping a lid” on the offense to this point, and offers some comments from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on the team’s reasoning for their conservative approach on offense, “While Wilson has left the pocket too soon sometimes, what Bevell likes is his ability to extend plays with his feet to create explosive plays, particularly at the end of games when Seattle is trying to move into scoring position. Twice Wilson has led Seattle’s offense down the field in late-game situations, giving them a chance to win. He was unsuccessful against Arizona, but got the job done against Green Bay. ‘We do have a rookie quarterback,’ Bevell said. “’e have a great defense. We have great special teams. We can run the football. We can protect the football. And all of those have been a great recipe to win the game. And that’s really what the bottom line comes down to – winning the game. You can say their ugly wins or beautiful wins – however they are, they’re wins. And that’s what our goal is.’ ”
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford took notice of the play of the Seahawks’ defense on Monday night, particularly those eight first half sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, ” ‘You look at what they were able to do Monday night … they looked unbeatable, almost,’ Bradford said in a teleconference with Seattle media Wednesday. ‘They’re so big and physical and then you add (Chris) Clemons with his speed, it’s a tough group to try to block. They’re so multiple in the way they can rush you. They can beat you with power, beat you with speed, they can beat you around the edge with their pressure.’ ”
Mike Sando has a look at some NFC West injury situations that matter heading into the Seahawks-Rams Week 4 contest, “Seattle: Left tackle Russell Okung appeared to make it through the Green Bay game without suffering an injury setback to his knee. Former starting right tackle James Carpenter could be available for the first time this season. He projects at left guard, but it’s not clear how much he’ll play, or how soon. Seattle has not been afraid to rotate players at the other guard spot. Carpenter, a first-round pick in 2011, has been rehabbing from the knee surgery he underwent last season. Receiver Doug Baldwin (shoulder) was a last-minute scratch from the lineup against the Packers. He could return this week. Baldwin and cornerback Byron Maxwell (hamstring) practiced fully. Right tackle Breno Giacomini (pectoral), guard John Moffitt (knee) and defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (wrist) did not practice. St. Louis: Defensive tackle Michael Brockers returned to practice after missing the first three games with a high-ankle sprain. That’s a good sign for the Rams as they prepare for Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. Brockers was limited in practice. Steven Jackson (groin) did not practice. The team remains without center Scott Wells and left tackle Rodger Saffold. A knee injury continues to limit Wayne Hunter, Saffold’s replacement. Saffold could miss a few more weeks. Overall, though, the Rams are healthier than they were last season. One question is whether Jackson’s groin injury will linger. He faces a Seattle run defense that has allowed 2.9 yards per carry on rushes excluding quarterback scrambles.”
Sando also calls attention to the rising stock of the Seahawks’ pass rush, “Eight first-half sacks against Aaron Rodgers quadrupled the Seahawks’ sack total through their two previous games this season. Chris Clemons had four, rookie Bruce Irvin added two and Brandon Mebane had two more. This was what the Seahawks had been hoping to see, particularly at home, after adding Jason Jones in free agency and Irvin through the draft. Can the pass rush travel to St. Louis in Week 4?”
Steve Wyche of NFL.com catches up with cornerback Brandon Browner on Monday night’s defensive effort that was overshadowed by the game’s final play, “Seattle forced a Cedric Benson fumble on first down from the Packers’ seven. (Green Bay center Jeff Saturday recovered on the Packers’ 2.) Three plays and 57 seconds later, Green Bay punted. It was a stand as stout, determined and beautifully executed in terms of will and clock management as a team could design. It showed exactly what these Seattle Seahawks are about. ‘It’s pretty simple: We stood up down there,’ Browner said. ‘It was an awesome feeling, man, especially playing against Green Bay. It’s an awesome feeling, man, to be out there in those circumstances, with our backs against the wall, to stand up and get the ball back.’ ”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his “Wednesday in Hawkville” report, with a focus on defensive tackle Brandon Mebane’s sack dance, and details the Seahawks’ pass rush from Monday night, “But even with Clemons and Irvin producing six of the eight sacks, the Seahawks’ mad dash of a pass rush wasn’t a two-man show. ‘Our other guys rushed well, too,’ Carroll said. ‘Jason (Jones) rushed well, missed a couple opportunities to get sacks. (Alan) Branch had a couple of really good rushes. Mebane had some great penetration up inside. So everybody contributed to it. Red (Bryant) had two really good rushes, his two best rushes of the year.’ ”
Tony Ventrella brings you his Seahawks Daily with reaction from coach Carroll, Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu, Breno Giacomini, and Mebane, as the team gets ready to move forward toward their Week 4 matchup with the Rams.
When: Sunday, 1:25 p.m. PDT, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Records: Seahawks were 4-0 in the preseason and 7-9 last season; Cardinals were 1-4 and 8-8
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13), with Sam Rosen, Heath Evans and Heidi Androl
Radio: 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: 49ers at Packers; Rams at Lions
The Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: What more can be said about Fitzgerald, the six-time Pro Bowl selection? Well, he needs seven receptions to become the youngest player in NFL history to reach 700 for his career. And then there’s this from Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, “It’s kind of a double-edged sword. Nothing that he does surprises me, really, because you just get to a point where you see him do so many things that you’re just like, ‘OK, I expected that.’ But, to be honest with you, a big part of me appreciates what you see him do sometimes. Some of the catches. How hard he works. The way he prepares himself. All of those things I marvel at.” Cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor beat Fitzgerald up in the finale last season, but they couldn’t beat him. Despite being limited to one catch for 1 yard in the first half and coughing up blood on the sideline during the second half, Fitzgerald finished with nine catches for 149 yards – including three for 46 yards on the drive to the game-winning field goal in overtime.
One to watch
Seahawks RG J.R. Sweezy vs. Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett: Sweezy, the seventh-round draft choice who was playing defensive tackle at North Carolina last season, has been the surprise – dare we say shock – of the summer. What he’ll get from Dockett will be no surprise at all. The Cardinals’ Pro Bowler plays a very physical game, and also likes to get into his opponents’ heads. Sweezy won’t draw Dockett all the time, as he’ll line up over the center and also on the edge at times. But Sweezy will need to hold his own when he does face Dockett, especially in passing situations because Dockett has more sacks (28.5) than any interior lineman in the league since 2007.
Fun to watch
Russell Wilson vs. the moment: Yes, he’s only a rookie – and a third-round draft choice, at that. Yes, this will be his first regular-season start after he won the starting job with a series of impressive, and productive, stints in the preseason. But you’d never know it by the way this kid carries himself. He is mature beyond his age, and savvy beyond his experience. A big key to his success against the Cardinals will be the offense’s ability to continue running the ball as productive as it did during the preseason, keeping Wilson in situation where he can pass when he wants to, rather than because he has to.
One tough task
Cardinals OTs D’Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie vs. Seahawks rush-ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin: Batiste has not started a game since 2007, while Massie will be making the first start of his rookie season. They’re starting because Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges sustained season-ending injuries during the preseason. Awaiting Batiste and Massie are the player who has generated 11 sacks in each of his first two seasons with the Seahawks (Clemons) and the player who was drafted in the first round to provide more speed and relentlessness from the other edge on the nickel line (Irvin).
The Cardinals lead the series 14-12, including a 23-20 overtime victory in Arizona in the finale last season. … Skelton was 5-2 as the starter last season and led six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. He also is 5-0 in career starts at home. … Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson is one of five safeties in NFL history to have 20-plus sacks (22.5) and 25-plus interceptions (26). … The Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is the only player in league history to have four punt returns of 80-plus yards in one season. … Seahawks leading rusher Marshawn Lynch practiced this week for the first time since experiencing back spasms after the second preseason game. His status will be a game-day decision. If Lynch can’t play, rookie Robert Turbin will start. … The Seahawks will start three other rookies – MLB Bobby Wagner, Wilson and Sweezy. … The Seahawks are 13-23 in their previous openers, but 6-3 since 2003. … Seahawks DT Alan Branch played his first four seasons with the Cardinals before signing with Seattle in free agency last year. … Seahawks TE Zach Miller played at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix and also Arizona State, where he holds the school record for receptions by a tight end (144).