It’s quite fitting that the 12th-best game on NFL.com’s list of the Top 20 games of 2012 goes to the home of the 12th Man.
The Seahawks’ 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6 of last season at CenturyLink Field was unveiled today at No. 12 on their list. In that game, the Seahawks battled back from a 23-10 deficit midway through the fourth quarter, as quarterback Russell Wilson threw scoring passes to wide receiver Braylon Edwards and again to wide receiver Sidney Rice with less than 90 seconds to play. The Seahawks defense then closed the door on Tom Brady and the Pats by forcing a turnover on downs on New England’s ensuing possession to secure the 24-23 win.
The game was somewhat of a coming out party for Wilson, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 133.7 quarterback rating. Until that point, Wilson’s arm had been kept under wraps by head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who asked Wilson to avoid risks and play it safe with the football.
Wilson’s counterpart that day, Brady, threw 31 more times than the Seahawks rookie, completing 36 of 58 for two touchdowns and two interceptions – one by cornerback Richard Sherman and another by free safety Earl Thomas.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has his full recap of the game here, and below he explains why this game was ranked where it was:
“Patriots-Seahawks featured two of the better clubs from last season, with the bonus being that we rarely see this interconference matchup.
Going a step further, you couldn’t find two more contrasting styles if you tried. Seattle pounds the ball, tries to completely shut down your offense and asks its quarterback to make plays in spots. Meanwhile, New England often places the whole game on its quarterback’s shoulders, while living off takeaways on defense. Consider: Brady attempted 31 more passes than Wilson in this game, despite the fact New England had a two-score lead in the fourth.
All that made for an intriguing matchup decided by one point. Not bad.”
Marshawn Lynch prefers to let his actions speak for him.
And when you’ve rushed for 2,794 yards and scored 25 touchdowns the past two seasons, that’s a prolonged – not to mention productive – conversation.
Lynch generated discussions of a different kind on sports-talk radio last week by his absence when Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ voluntary offseason program began. But he’s back, and his teammates let him hear it when Lynch arrived midway through Monday’s on-field session.
“Guys are going to raze him a little bit,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after today’s workout. He then smiled before adding, “When you make a grand entrance like that, they’re going to raze you.”
But today Lynch was back where he belongs, and the team needs him: In the backfield, carrying and catching the ball. In an early drill, Lynch came out of his stance, juked around a trashcan and took a short pass from backup QB Brady Quinn. Later, Lynch took a handoff from QB Russell Wilson and darted between All-Pro center Max Unger and guard John Moffitt.
The All-Pro back punctuated each maneuver with a smile.
“He just jumped right back in there, didn’t miss a beat,” Bevell said. “It’s great to have him out there. It kind of lifts morale. Guys love to see him. He’s a great player and competitor for us, so it’s always good to have him out there.”
There are some automatic circle-the-date events in the NFL. The draft. The start of training camp. The regular-season opener.
For Dan Quinn, this year also included April 29 – which just happens to be today, and the day Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program kicked off. It marked the first time since the final practice of the 2012 season that the coaches have been allowed on the field with the players. And for Quinn, it was his first time on an NFL practice field since the 2010 season, as he spent the past two years as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida following a two-season stint as the Seahawks’ D-line coach.
“This is the day I’ve really been looking forward to,” Quinn said. “I’ve been looking forward to this Phase 2 starting. In fact, I even told that to the guys before hand – we’re all kind of getting back to our element, which is being out on the field.”
His anticipation over this day is understandable. It was Quinn’s first day on a practice field as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, a position he was hired to fill in January after former D-coordinator Gus Bradley left to become head coach of the Jaguars. It also was Quinn’s first on-field session with the free-agent additions to the unit he now coordinates – linemen Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
“This is a chance for us to see some of the new players we’ve added on the field,” Quinn said. “The classroom work has been good. But this is the next step, the precursor to playing. The culmination has been good and the players, to their credit, worked.”
The players did that work in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center because of the rain that was falling in Renton this morning. But it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players or coaches, even though their “against air” efforts focused primarily on technique.
“It’s always fun to get out there on the field,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “We still can’t do a whole heck of a lot, but at least we’re running routes, catching balls, calling plays.”
The limited on-field activity that is allowed in Phase 2 continues through May 17, with a rookie minicamp scheduled for May 10-12. Phase 3 begins on May 20 and will include 10 OTA sessions where the offense is allowed to work against the defense, and vice versa. The offseason program concludes for the veterans with a minicamp June 11-13.
Matt Bowen played safety in the NFL for four teams over seven seasons, so his take on “impact acquisitions” this offseason carries a little more weight than the other opinions circulating in cyberspace.
Bowen, who played for the Rams, Packers, Redskins and Bills from 2000-06, listed his Top 5 Impact Acquisitions as a special contribution at EPSN Insiders. And No. 11 checks in at No. 1 – that’s Percy Harvin, the receiver/returner/runner the Seahawks acquired in a trade with the Vikings last month. The feature at ESPN.com requires registration and a fee, but here’s what Bowen has to say about Harvin:
“Creative ability is what you get from the former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks took a big risk when they made the trade to acquire Harvin and rewarded him with a new contract that paid out $25.5 million guaranteed. That’s big money for a slot receiver who isn’t going to consistently align outside of the numbers. However, Harvin gives the Seahawks multiple options from a play-calling and formation perspective, along with the value he brings to the return game. He’s an explosive player in the open field who can produce after the catch from a variety of alignments.
“In Seattle, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can get the ball to Harvin out of the slot, aligned in the backfield, or use a pre-snap motion to create favorable matchups. Think of the bubble screen, inside option routes, seam or underneath crossing concepts – the idea is anything to get Harvin the ball in space. With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks will lean on some movement passes (boot, sprint) to get the quarterback outside of the pocket. That plays into Harvin’s skill set from an inside alignment.
“And don’t be surprised to see Harvin used in the read-option scheme to get to the edge of the defense. The Seahawks already have talent with Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. With the addition of Harvin, this offense becomes much more varied in its game plan approach. Harvin isn’t a conventional talent at the wide receiver position, but that’s why he creates opportunities within the playbook to attack and expose opposing defenses.”
Also on Bowen’s list, in this order: Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, Falcons running back Steven Jackson, Rams tight end Jared Cook and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
Count Bucky Brooks among those who like the Seahawks acquiring Percy Harvin. Twice. No, three times.
Brooks is a former NFL receiver who also worked as a scout with the Seahawks. In his current role as an analyst for NFL.com, Brooks has weighed in on the trade – heavily – with the Vikings last week that brought Harvin’s multiple and diverse talents to Seattle.
Brooks looks at – in words and video – just what Harvin brings as:
A slot receiver: “Harvin’s explosiveness and effectiveness as a slot receiver certainly will make the passing game even more difficult to defend.”
A runner in the zone-read package: “The Seahawks will also take advantage of Harvin’s versatility as a running back to enhance their exotic running game. … He can also motion into the backfield and serve as the pitch back on some of the read-option concepts from one-back or two-back formations. This will create confusion in the minds of defenders and keep defensive coordinators up at night trying to anticipate the myriad gadget plays (offensive coordinator Darrell) Bevell can use on a weekly basis.”
A kickoff returner: “The Seahawks’ kicking unit excels at knocking cover guys out of their respective lanes, which makes an explosive returner like Harvin a threat to score whenever he touches the ball in the open field. The kicking game plays a big role in determining the outcomes of NFL games down the stretch; acquiring a younger, more explosive return man could pay dividends in the Seahawks’ quest for a title in 2013.”
Audio file – Wide receiver Sidney Rice on 710 AM ESPN Seattle:
Wide receiver Sidney Rice joined Bob Stelton and former Seahawks defensive tackle Craig Terrill on 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” show on Friday afternoon. The first topic of conversation was that of recently acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin, whom Rice played alongside for two seasons (2009-10) while with the Minnesota Vikings.
That first year together, in 2009, Rice and Harvin combined for 143 catches for 2,102 yards and 14 scores under then Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who of course came to Seattle along with Rice prior to the start of the 2011 season. Like Bevell, Rice too is familiar with Harvin, and had nothing but positives to say about the do-it-all wideout.
“He’s a great guy, first of all,” Rice told 710 AM ESPN Seattle. “I enjoyed the two years I had with him there in Minnesota. He’s one of the most exciting players in the game right now and one of the most dynamic to ever play it. He can go in at the running back position and make things happen, in the slot, on the outside, wherever. If you put the ball in his hands and he has a chance to make a move he’s going to make something special happen with the ball”
Rice’s comments on the “Bob and Groz” show Friday afternoon jogged a memory of a player blog Rice submitted to Seahawks.com last season. Rice, prior to the Seahawks’ game against the Vikings in Week 9, went out of his way to gush about Harvin, who at the time was in legitimate conversation for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.
“When I was over there in Minnesota he was like my little bro,” Rice wrote to Seahawks.com. “He’s one of toughest athletes I’ve been around. He’s a special guy out there on the football field and he’s not turning down anything from anybody. He’s going to bring 110 percent with the attitude and everything every single time. His toughness is easily the most impressive part of his game.
“One thing that I like to tell people that haven’t been around him and don’t know him is that he has the fastest acceleration I’ve ever seen. He can come out of getting banged by a linebacker after a catch, and if he stays on his feet and gets his feet going it’s like the fastest thing you’ve ever seen from a person. … He’s doing really well and I’m proud of him.”
If there’s one video that puts Rice’s comments on Harvin’s start-and-stop-again acceleration into perspective, it has to be the one below, in which Havrin successfully escapes four would-be Tennessee Titans tacklers en route to pay dirt.
Audio file – Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell on 710 AM ESPN Seattle:
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell joined Bob Stelton and former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman on 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” show on Thursday afternoon to talk about recently acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin.
Bevell, who held the role of offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings during Harvin’s first two seasons in the league (2009-10), perhaps provides the greatest level of familiarity when it comes to the Seahawks’ newest receiver. In those two seasons with Bevell as his coordinator, Harvin caught 131 balls for 1,658 yards and 11 touchdowns, and carried the football 33 times for 242 yards and a score. He was also named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2009).
“Dynamic is a good word, explosive,” Bevell told 710 AM ESPN Seattle. “He can really hit the house at any point, at any spot on the field – that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. You can use him all over the place. You can use him in the slot, he could be a standalone receiver outside, you could also just hand him the ball and let him be a runner as well.”
Bevell hopes the addition of Harvin will prove to be a “matchup nightmare” for opposing defenses who will be forced to cover the likes of running back Marshawn Lynch, tight end Zach Miller, wide receivers Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin, while also defending the will-he-run or will-he-pass ability of quarterback Russell Wilson.
“There are just so many things that we’ll be able to have the capability of doing,” Bevell said. “We’re trying to put good football players out there on the field and help support one another.
“The problem right now is we only have one ball,” he joked.
To say the national reaction to the Seahawks acquiring Percy Harvin has been positive doesn’t begin to tell just how well the trade for the wide receiver/kickoff returner/runner is being received.
After Harvin was obtained Tuesday in a deal with the Vikings Don Banks at SI.com offered, “For a franchise that has rapidly become known for its fearless, unconventional thinking on personnel matters, Seattle’s trade for disgruntled receiver-return man Percy Harvin is another bold step. One that again reinforces the perception that Seattle is comfortable operating outside the box and rapidly gaining confidence in its methods.”
Sure, the Seahawks gave up three draft choices to get Harvin, including their first-round pick next month. But as Banks wrote, “This is a win-now move for a team ready to challenge San Francisco for supremacy in the NFC, and Harvin gives Seattle another dynamic and unconventional player who threatens a defense on multiple fronts, having scored multiple touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and return man. Harvin at his best creates pressure on a defense that few players can match, and it’s not often you can pick up a fifth-year talent with a fairly unique skill set while that player is very much in his prime.”
Mike Silver at YahooSports.com also likes the move, and what it does to the dynamic in the NFC West: “Two words to describe the ever-escalating rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks: It’s on.”
As for the trade, he wrote: “I completely understand why (coach Pete) Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider felt good about taking this big swing. For one thing, they have positive associations with such a move, having reaped the benefits of a 2010 trade for Marshawn Lynch that was considered a gamble at the time. Further, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had the same job with the Vikings during Harvin’s first two NFL seasons, and obviously there’s a familiarity and comfort level that helped convince the team this was a worthwhile move.”
And at CBSSports.com, Clark Judge lists Harvin among his “five biggest winners” from the first day of the NFL free-agency period.
The Seahawks have signed kick returner and cornerback Will Blackmon, it was announced today, and there will be no need for wholesale introductions when the 28-year-old joins the team.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Blackmon was selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Packers, when Seahawks GM John Schneider was working in Green Bay’s front office. Blackmon returned a punt and a fumble for touchdowns in a game against the Raiders in 2007, when Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable was the line coach in Oakland. Blackmon also had punt returns for scores in both games against the Vikings in 2008, when Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell held the same position in Minnesota.
Blackmon’s career was then hampered by knee and ankle injuries, which prompted his release by the Packers (2010) and Giants (2011). He was out of the league last year, when he played for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena League.
His best season came in 2008, when he averaged 11.1 yards returning punts, 21.0 yards returning kickoffs and also produced a career-high 35 tackles.
A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on Jan. 18:
2011: Tom Cable (assistant head coach/offensive line), Darrell Bevell (offensive coordinator) and Todd Wash (defensive line) are added to Pete Carroll’s staff, while Kris Richard (defensive backs) and Rocky Seto (assistant defensive backs) are promoted to new posts. Also, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is relieved of his duties after one season with the team.