Happy Schedule Thursday.
Yes, the league will announce the 2013 NFL schedule today – at 5 p.m. PT. Until then, we thought you might want to weigh in on how many primetime games the Seahawks might get.
It was a topic for discussion at Virginia Mason Athletic Center yesterday, because the Seahawks are an ascending team and have some inviting matchups on tap this season: The NFC Champion and NFC West rival 49ers, home and away; the Falcons in Atlanta, where the home team rallied in the closing seconds for a two-point victory in January’s divisional playoff game; the Colts in Indianapolis, matching a pair of teams that won 11 games last season and are led by quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson; the Saints at CenturyLink Field, in a rematch of that memorable 2010 wild-card playoff game where Marshawn Lynch’s electrifying and earth-shaking 67-yard touchdown run iced the Seahawks’ 41-39 upset of the defending Super Bowl champions; and the Vikings in Seattle, with the Seahawks’ foursome of Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Antoine Winfield and Heath Farwell playing against their former team.
The Seahawks had a franchise-high five primetime games in 2006, following their run to the Super Bowl in 2005. They’ve had three primetime games in each of the past two seasons, and also had three in 1999, 1990, 1987, 1986 and 1985.
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.”
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 31:
Reality ball and fun. Coach Pete Carroll used both terms today when discussing the Seahawks’ 20-13 victory over the Rams in their regular-season finale on Sunday and their playoff game this week against the Redskins at FedExField.
First, the Rams’ game, which was a return to reality for the Seahawks after they had won by 58, 33 and 29 points in their previous three games: “It was a game that was good for us, in that it was hard and tough and we were behind and had to work our way back. I think that was good after the games that we’ve had, to get back to real football – reality ball, how it can be.”
And how it was, as well. Five of the Seahawks’ first seven victories came by two points (Packers), four points (at the Panthers), one point (Patriots), 10 points (Vikings) and six points in overtime (at the Bears). They also beat the Cowboys by 20 and the Jets by 21.
The win over the Rams didn’t come until quarterback Russell Wilson capped a 90-yard drive by scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:39 to play and cornerback Richard Sherman intercepted Sam Bradford’s fourth-down pass at the goal line with 33 seconds left.
“That’s high odds going against you,” Carroll said of the late scoring drive. “But we got great play. Guys executed beautifully at that time. The quarterback did a great job, made a couple big plays scrambling and running.
“And we scored early enough to give the defense a chance to do their thing, as well. And it was good to see that because we’ve had some issues at times. I think the thing that was exciting for us is that we kind of expected to pull this thing off here at the end.”
Now, the fun that is the reward from winning their final five regular-season games and seven of their past eight to reach the playoffs: “It’s more fun, because of where you are and the focus and all that. There will be a feel about the playoffs, there’s always kind of that air about it. You can sense it. It’s different.
“But the key is not allowing that to factor into what it really takes to prepare well, and not miss the message. They’ll be excited to play and everybody’s going to have great focus this week, just because it is the playoffs. But that’s something we’re trying to create on a regular basis, so when we get to this time we’ve already ‘been-there/done-that.’ ”
The Seahawks advanced to the playoffs in 2010, their first season under Carroll, and knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in a wild-card game in Seattle. They then lost to the Bears in Chicago in the divisional round.
So this Seahawks team is looking to do something no Seahawks team has done since 1983: Win a playoff game on the road.
“It’s about consistency when you get into this opportunity,” Carroll said. “You’ve got to bring what you’ve got. Don’t show up without your stuff on that day. We know how to do that. Now we have to see if we can bring it to life and not get distracted by the fact it’s the playoffs.”
Cornerback Brandon Browner returned to the Seahawks today from his four-game suspension.
To clear a roster spot, cornerback Walter Thurmond was placed on injured reserve. Thurmond injured a hamstring in practice earlier this month and has missed the past three games.
“We couldn’t get him over the hump on it,” Carroll said. “He kind of re-tweaked it again last week, and that means it’s going to be a couple of weeks again.”
Browner, an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season who was added to the NFC squad as an injury replacement, started the first 12 games on the right side.
“He’s worked out real hard. His weight’s in good shape,” Carroll said. “He’s still fast and all that. He’s going to have fresh legs. But we’ve got to see how he does. Unfortunately, we have guys that can play. If he’s not quite right or he doesn’t get off to a good start during the week, we’ve got other guys who can play for him.
“But we’re going to give him a heckuva chance to play. We’re thrilled to get him back. We’ll see what happens.”
The club also signed rookie defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga and cornerback Ron Parker to its practice squad.
Meatoga was with the Raiders earlier this season. He fills the spot that opened when linebacker Allen Bradford was signed to the 53-man roster on Friday. With Parker being added, wide receiver Corbin Louks was released. Parker was with the team in training camp, released on the roster cut to 75 players and then signed to the 53-man roster off the Panthers’ practice squad Dec. 5 before being released last Friday.
SIX SEAHAWKS FINISH AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Leon Washington finished second in the league and led the NFC in kickoff return average (29.0).
Sherman tied for second in the league in interceptions (eight) and led the team with 24 passes defensed; while Chris Clemons tied for ninth in sacks (11.5) and Bruce Irvin led all rookies in sacks (eight).
Marshawn Lynch slipped to third in the league is rushing when Redskins rookie Alfred Morris ran for 200 yards on Sunday night. Lynch finished the regular season with 1,590 yards, while Morris had 1,613. The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson led the league with 2,097. Lynch also was fourth in total yards (1,786) behind Peterson (2,314), the Titans’ Chris Johnson (1,964) and Bucs’ Doug Martin (1,926); tied for sixth in first downs (79); and tied for seventh in scoring among non-kickers (72 points).
Wilson was fourth in the league in passer rating (100.0) behind the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (108.0), Broncos’ Peyton Manning (105.8) and Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (102.4); fifth in fourth-quarter passer rating (102.7); fifth in third-down passer rating (96.2); and eighth in completion percentage (.641).
Jon Ryan was ninth in net punting average (40.8) and tied for seventh in punts inside the 20 (30).
As a team, the Seahawks ranked No. 3 in rushing offense, No. 4 in total defense, No. 6 in passing defense and No. 10 in rushing defense. The offense was No. 17 overall and No. 27 in passing offense. They also were plus-13 in turnover differential, which tied for fifth in the league.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles with a franchise rookie-record 140, while linebacker K.J. Wright (96) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (91) finished 2-3. Heath Farwell led the team with 15 special teams tackles.
KING VOTES WILSON, WAGNER FOR ROOKIES OF THE YEAR
Peter King at SI.com has a vote for the NFL awards given each year by the Associated Press, and he tabs Wilson as the Offensive Rookie of the Year and Wagner as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
King on Wilson: “Wilson over Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. Morphing from a laughed-at 5-foot-11, 75th pick in the draft into a tornado-like force at quarterback by December (three games, 150 points, including 42 against the mighty Niners), and playing like Fran Tarkenton with a better arm, Wilson nipped Griffin in my opinion. But if you want either other man, I have zero problem or argument with you.”
King on Wagner: “Bobby Wagner, edging Green Bay cornerback Casey Hayward and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. Wagner turned a suspect group of Seattle linebackers, the weak point of the Seahawks defense, into a competitive group by being great against the run (more tackles than Patrick Willis) and good dropping into coverage (three interceptions, excellent instincts).”
STAT DU JOUR
We ran the chart of the rookie QBs with the best passer ratings in league history last week, but that was before Wilson and Griffin rewrote it on Sunday. So here’s the new Top 5, with those who fell out of it and the other rookies in this year’s class:
Player, team (year) Rating
Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012) 102.4
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 100.0
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004) 98.1
Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983) 96.0
Greg Cook, Bengals (1969) 88.3
Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008) 87.8
Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 84.5
Other 2012 rookies:
Nick Foles, Eagles 79.1
Andrew Luck, Colts 76.5
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins 76.1
Brandon Weeden, Browns 72.6
New Year’s Day, of course. The players had today “off” and will be “off” on Tuesday as well, although many were in today for a workout, treatment or to get a jump on their video preparation for Sunday’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Whatever awards come Russell Wilson’s way, we understand it. He’s just such a complete kid. That’s a really cool award for what he’s done off the field. He’s just on on all cylinders hitting it. The players would recognize that. The people in the community would recognize that. And the coaches certainly know that, as well. Anything with Steve Largent’s name on it is pretty cool.” – Carroll on Wilson being voted the Steve Largent Award by his teammates
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.
Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.
Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ “
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as
the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ “
Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.
Seahawks center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung have been voted starters on the NFC Pro Bowl squad, it was announced today.
Leon Washington is the kick returner, while running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves on the team.
Eight Seahawks named as alternates:
1st Alternates: DE Chris Clemons, FB Michael Robinson, CB Richard Sherman
2nd Alternates: SS Kam Chancellor, ST Heath Farwell, P Jon Ryan
3rd Alternate: QB Russell Wilson
4th Alternate: DT Brandon Mebane
The NFC and AFC Pro Bowl squads will be announced this afternoon (4 p.m. PT on the NFL Network), but the boys at NFL.com already have weighed in on who they think is deserving.
Running back Marshawn Lynch and cornerback Richard Sherman were selected by five of the six panelists (yes, one of them actually failed to recognize Lynch). Nose tackle Brandon Mebane was mentioned by three of the six, with left tackle Russell Okung and kick returner Leon Washington getting two “votes.”
Fullback Michael Robinson, free safety Earl Thomas and special teams standout Heath Farwell were tabbed by one of the panelists.
Let’s hope the players and coaches in the NFC gave more love to more Seahawks when they cast their ballots last week.
You can view all the NFL.com selections here.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 26.
The NFL notes that 2013 Pro Bowl rosters will be announced today at 7 p.m. ET on a special edition of “NFL Total Access.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the improvement of quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense, “Wilson’s yards per attempt — a metric that helps gauge how aggressively a team looks downfield — is up nearly 2 yards over the past three games, a significant bump. What has really exploded is Wilson’s rushing numbers, the game plan becoming focused upon accentuating Wilson’s talents. It’s not just running beyond the line of scrimmage, but moving in the pocket. He’s got license to scramble, evading defenders with maneuvers that are at times almost comical. Earlier in the season, Seattle was trying to grind out victories while grooming a rookie quarterback. Now, the Seahawks are trusting that same rookie to see how far he will take them. ‘We have a front-line, first-rate quarterback going out there in these games and you’re seeing it,’ Carroll said. ‘He’s balling. We trust him in his decision-making because he’s proven worthy of that.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune rehashes the race for offensive rookie of the year, making a case for Wilson, “Since Week 5, Wilson has thrown for 2,274 yards, completing 65 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. During that same stretch Wilson has a 106.9 passer rating, the second best in the league over that span behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (110.8). In the red zone, Wilson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating, which is fourth-best in the league.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes about how Carroll and the Seahawks are handling their recent success, “No longer are the Seahawks, the team playing in the NFL’s most remote outpost, the plucky little team that could. They’re quickly turning into bullies. Apparently, three wins by a combined margin of 150-30 tends to make people take notice. So is there any concern the Seahawks could lose their edge now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth and are being called the NFL’s hottest team? ‘Yeah, sure, there is always concern for that,’ Carroll said. ‘That’s what my job is, to not let that happen, so I better be concerned about that. I’m very confident about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and the language that we use and the way we talk, the way they’re talking. I love to hear their comments at this point and how they’ve dealt with the last few weeks. They’re right on point.’ “
Boyle also notes a roster move from Monday, December 24, as the club released wide receiver Deon Butler from the 53-man roster to make room for the addition of rookie strong safety Winston Guy, who had been serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Jim Litke of the Associated Press tries to make sense of the sound level exhibited by the 12th Man at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, “[Sunday Night Football producer Fred] Gaudelli and his crew hatched a plan to demonstrate that by having sideline reporter Michele Tafoya speak into a microphone as the sound reverberated, then take a step back and try again. When they ran through it before the game, he had a stadium staffer simulate the crowd noise over the PA system. At the point Tafoya’s words were drowned out the system was cranked to 50 percent of volume. ‘So I asked the guy, is it really going to be that loud? He looked at me,’ Gaudelli chuckled into the phone, ‘and said, ‘Double it.’ The guy was right. That much was apparent at the start of the broadcast, when Tafoya interviewed Carroll – remember, the game hadn’t even begun – and didn’t dare stand anywhere but uncomfortably close. Uncomfortable might be the right word to describe the 49ers as well, at least in the early going, when they had to burn timeouts as relatively inexperienced quarterback Colin Kaepernick was having trouble getting the play calls from his sideline. Right about then, he probably wished the 49ers had devoted more time to mastering their silent snap counts. ‘The crowd’s explosive, it really is,’ Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ‘They love us so much, and it brings so much energy to our football team. They keep us in the game, obviously, and they keep us alert.’ “
Tim Booth of the Associated Press has reaction from Carroll on the club’s hope to continue to play with an edge, “The blowout of the 49ers grabbed the kind of attention the Seahawks have wanted. ‘The chip on the shoulder? That’s not something we just manufactured for the sake of getting fired up. The guys in this room feel that. Almost every one of these guys has their reasons. I feel like that myself. We just kind of share in that chip and we don’t even have to pass it around,’ Carroll said. ‘We all have one. That’s just kind of how it’s been. Just look, we’re up here in the Northwest and they like talking about us after they talk about everybody else. And that’s OK. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t amount to much but sometimes it does fuel you a little to keep you going. It works for us so we’ll stay with it.’ “
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says last Sunday’s victory over the 49ers was “extra special” for wide receiver Doug Baldwin, “As if beating his college coach in lopsided fashion wasn’t sweet enough, Baldwin had his finest game of the season in the win. He had receiving touchdowns of 4 and 6 yards, making difficult catches on each. He made a bobbling catch on a 46-yard gain that set up the Seahawks’ second touchdown. Baldwin finished with four catches for 53 yards. It was the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Then again, big games against the 49ers are nothing new for Baldwin. Four of his seven career touchdowns have come against San Francisco.”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has updates from Carroll’s Monday presser, “Carroll said they emerged from the game fairly healthy with only a few issues. He said LB Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury that needs to be looked at. He also said Hill’s backup, LB Malcolm Smith, might have a groin issue as well. It’s something they need to check out. If neither would be available to play, LB Mike Morgan would be the backup at the weakside linebacker spot. Carroll said WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant came out of the game feeling better. Rice had been dealing with a foot bruise and a knee injury heading into last week’s game. Bryant has been dealing with a plantar fascia injury in his foot. CB Marcus Trufant is expected to return to practice on Wednesday from a hamstring strain that has kept him out the last four games. Carroll said they still weren’t sure if CB Walter Thurmond would be able to practice Wednesday. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain as well.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “MVP Watch” where Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch show up on his list, “Wilson now ranks seventh in NFL passer rating (98.0) and eighth in Total QBR (70.0) for the season. He ranks third in both categories — 101.5 rating, 75.6 QBR — from Week 2 to present. Much gets made of Wilson’s success at home. He ranks among the NFL’s top five in road QBR after Week 1 (78.8). Only Ryan (85.4), Brady (81.5) and Manning (80.2) rank higher among quarterbacks with more than four road starts during that time. Ben Roethlisberger (72.8), Drew Brees (69.9), Rodgers (69.8) and Robert Griffin III (69.6) are next. Wilson needs one touchdown pass against St. Louis in Week 17 to tie Manning’s rookie record of 26, set in 1998. Manning also had 28 interceptions that season. Wilson has 10, including one on a dropped pass.”
Sando has his most recent “Stock Watch” item as well, and the Seahawks’ coach and GM – Carroll and John Schneider – along with the Seahawks’ receiver and strong safety Kam Chancellor represent three of his four units that are on the rise, “Seahawks’ receivers. Dropped passes doomed Seattle’s offense during a 13-6 defeat at San Francisco in Week 7. Outstanding catches played an important role in Seattle sprinting to a big lead against the 49ers in the rematch Sunday night. Baldwin’s juggling catch in the rain for a 43-yard gain was the longest play for either team. Baldwin added two scoring receptions. Rice made a leaping grab along the sideline. Seattle converted 11 of 12 times on third down while Wilson was in the game.”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth catches up with wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Richard Sherman, and special teams co-captain Heath Farwell on some of their favorite Christmas memories growing up.
We also have coach Carroll’s full video press conference from Monday available here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 24:
Christmas Eve Eve. For Pete Carroll, Sunday night began with him holding his grandson, Dillon, on the sideline before the Seahawks’ game against the 49ers. It ended with the team’s third-year coach embracing a playoff berth after a beyond-convincing 42-13 victory.
But Carroll is not satisfied. Far from it.
“My goal has never been the playoffs,” he said today during his weekly day-after Q&A session with reporters. “It’s try to win the division, because that puts you in the playoffs at home. And that’s what you want. The second season starts, but you want to position yourself in the best spot that you can get it.
“So we never say around here, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get to the playoffs.’ I never thought that. That isn’t good enough.”
That’s still out there for the Seahawks, if they beat the Rams at CenturyLink Field this Sunday while the Cardinals are beating the 49ers in San Francisco. But regardless of where the Seahawks finish, they’ve made it apparent that they can make some noise in the postseason.
To say they’re are on a roll does not do justice to just what the Seahawks have done during their four-game winning streak. Starting with the fourth quarter of their overtime win against the Bears in Chicago in Week 13, the Seahawks have scored on 24 of their 32 full possessions – not counting when the clock expired at the end of the first half or they kneeled to run out the clock at the end of the second half. And that doesn’t include the four touchdowns scored by the defense and special teams.
“We have to take care of our business first,” Carroll said. “What’s most important right now is we maintain consistency, and we maintain the level of play, and the focus to the details, and the discipline it takes to practice each day with intent, and do things right. And put together another good week so we can play well again.
“We’ve been playing well for quite a while. I can feel it in the room and the guys understand it. But that doesn’t mean anything unless we go do it again.”
GUY BACK, BUTLER GONE
The Seahawks have activated rookie safety Winston Guy, who returned last week with a roster exemption after serving a four-game suspension.
Guy, a sixth-round draft choice, was inactive for eight of the first 10 games before his suspension.
To clear a roster spot, wide receiver Deon Butler was released. Butler was re-signed Dec. 15.
Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) came out of Sunday night’s game with injuries, and the next-man-up at weakside linebacker is Mike Morgan, who started one game and played most of the second on the strongside for K.J. Wright earlier this season.
Carroll expects Marcus Trufant to practice on Wednesday after missing the past four games with a hamstring injury. But he is not sure if Walter Thurmond will be able to return by then. Thurmond has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.
Jermaine Kearse. Signed as a free agent in April after the NFL Draft, the rookie free agent from the University of Washington was released Aug. 31 on the roster cut to 53 players. He was then signed to the practice squad (Sept. 3), released from the practice squad (Sept. 8), re-signed to the practice squad (Sept. 11) and then signed to the 53-man roster (Oct. 30).
Sunday night, Kearse caught a 17-yard pass from Russell Wilson on a third-and-8 play to sustain a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ended with Wilson’s first TD pass to Doug Baldwin and also had two coverage tackles on special teams.
“Oh man, this is a lot of fun,” Kearse, who also went to Lakes High School, said in the locker room after the game. “Especially being in this environment, my rookie year, being with this team, in my hometown; it’s a ton of fun. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Especially because he’s playing for a coach who rewards those players who work hard. Kearse is just one example of a rookie – and a practice-squad rookie, at that – who has reaped the Carroll-bestowed chances.
“Coach has given be a great opportunity to be part of this team,” he said. “Whether it’s special teams or offense, whatever opportunity I get I’m going to run with it. I felt good about today. It was a great team win and I’m happy to be part of this organization.”
If the season ended today, which of course it doesn’t, the Seahawks would play the Redskins in Washington in the first round. That, of course, could change because the only playoff spots not settled involve the NFC West, NFC East and NFC North.
The Seahawks and 49ers are both in, with the 49ers winning the division if they beat the Cardinals on Sunday; or the Seahawks winning it if the 49ers lose and they beat the Rams. One wins the division, while the other gets the No. 5 seed.
In the East, the Cowboys play at the Redskins on Sunday with the winner taking the division and No. 4 seed. With a loss, the Redskins are the No. 6 seed, if the Vikings and Bears also lose. If the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, they’re out. Then it’s the Vikings for the No. 6 seed, if they beat the Packers; or the Bears, if they beat the Lions and the Vikings lose; or the Giants, if they beat the Eagles and Cowboys, Vikings and Bears all lose.
The Seahawks have made a pre-Christmas move in two of the power rankings that have surfaced early in this Christmas week. Here’s a look at where they rank, and what they’re saying:
No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com: “A tour de force victory Sunday night over the big, bad wolf of the NFC West that stamped the Seahawks as a real Super Bowl contender. No team has a bigger home-field advantage than the Seahawks (7-0 at CenturyLink this year). Too bad the ‘Hawks will likely have to win three straight on the road to get to the Super Bowl.”
No. 6 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings: “The Seahawks are on a 100-13 scoring run at home and have put up 150 over the past three weeks.”
STATS ’N STUFF
After rushing for 176 yards against a 49ers defense that was allowing an average of 91.1, the Seahawks rank No. 2 in the league in rushing offense. They have spiked their per-game average (161.7) by averaging 226.5 in their four-game winning streak.
The Seahawks also are plus-12 in turnover differential, which ties for sixth in the league.
Marshawn Lynch remains second in the league in rushing (1,490) and is tied for fourth among non-kickers with 72 points. He’s also fifth in total yards (1,672) and first downs (75).
Richard Sherman is tied for second in the league with a career-high seven interceptions, one behind league-leader Tim Jennings of the Bears; while Chris Clemons is tied for seventh in sacks (11.5).
Wilson’s passer rating of 98.0 is seventh in the league, and second among rookie QBs behind the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III. Wilson’s 101.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter is seventh in the league and his 92.4 rating on third downs in eighth. With 25 TD passes, he is ninth in the league, tops among rookie QBs and one shy of Peyton Manning’s league record for a rookie QB.
Leon Washington remains second in the league in kickoff return average (30.1), while Jon Ryan is sixth in the league in net punting average (41.6) and tied for 10th in punts inside the 20 (28).
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team with 130 tackles, which is six shy of the single-season club record for a rookie set by Terry Beeson on 1977. Special teams co-captains Heath Farwell (15) and Michael Robinson (10) lead the team in coverage tackles.
STAT DU JOUR
Calvin Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL record for receiving yards on Saturday night, which only makes the job the Seahawks did against the Lions’ Megatron wide-out in Week 8 that much more impressive. Here’s a look that game, and what Johnson has done since then:
Opponent Rec. Yards
Seahawks 3 46
Jaguars 7 129
Vikings 12 207
Packers 5 143
Texans 8 140
Colts 13 171
Packers 10 118
Cardinals 10 121
Falcons 11 225
Christmas Day, of course. And this year it just happens to fall on the players’ usually day off. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for this week’s game against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The amazing thing Sunday night was, that was no Jacksonville or Kansas City they beat up 42-13. That was the San Francisco 49ers, who’d entered the game first in the NFL in scoring defense. Russell Wilson had the first four-touchdown-pass day of his exploding career, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards, and the Seahawks, with a crowd so loud that NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya had to scream into Pete Carroll’s ear to be heard before the game, continued on the NFL’s best three-game offensive run since 1950.” – King in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. PT, Rogers Centre, Toronto
Records: Seahawks 8-5 after last week’s 58-0 win over the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field; Bills 5-8 after last week’s 15-12 loss to the Rams at Ralph Wilson Stadium
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Dick Stockton, John Lynch and Jennifer Hale
Radio: 710 ESPN and KIRO 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: 49ers (9-3-1) at Patriots; Vikings at Rams (6-6-1); Lions at Cardinals (4-9)
The Bills’ defense vs. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch: It was the Bills who traded Lynch to the Seahawks in 2010. It is the Bills who will have to contend with the Beast Mode back on Sunday. The Bills were allowing an average of 163.7 rushing yards through their first nine games, but have macheted that to an average of 68.8 yards over the past four games. But that was against the Dolphins, Colts, Jaguars and Rams. None of those teams have a back as productive as Lynch has been this season, when he already has run for a career-high 1,266 yards; or since Week 9 last season, a 22-game span when he has run for a league-high 2,207 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns. His efforts against the Cardinals last week were stunning, especially considering that Lynch got his 128 yards and three TDs on only 11 carries. Then there’s that little former-team factor.
One to watch
The fourth quarter: The Seahawks have pulled out victories over the Packers (9-4) and Patriots (10-3) with fourth-quarter touchdowns, used a fourth-quarter TD against the Bears to eventually win in overtime and lost to the Lions and Dolphins after taking fourth-quarter leads only to have the defense allow game-winning TD drives. Not surprisingly, the Seahawks have score more points in the fourth (82) than any quarter other than the second (88). The Bills, meanwhile, have allowed 119 points in the fourth quarter – which is the fifth-highest total in the league behind the Lions (131), Eagles (124), Jaguars (124) and Redskins (123). They’ve lost games in the fourth quarter to the Rams, Titans, Patriots and Dolphins, and in an earlier loss to the Patriots they yielded 31 fourth-quarter points after the score was tied entering the final quarter.
Fun to watch
The Seahawks coverage units vs. Bills punt and kickoff returner Leodis McKelvin: Heath Farwell, come on down. Chris Maragos and Michael Robinson, you too. Containing McKelvin, who leads the league with an 18.7-yard average returning punts and is the only player in the league to rank among the Top 5 in punt- and kickoff-return average, will be an all hands-on-deck chore. It also will include punter Jon Ryan and kicker Steven Hauschka doing their things to give McKelvin as few chances to break a long one as possible. Impossible? McKelvin, after all, already has returned punts 88 and 79 yards for scores. The Seahawks’ potential trump card is that they are one of only three teams in the league that has not allowed a return of more than 40 yards in either category.
One tough task
Seahawks tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini vs. Bills defensive end Mario Williams: With the Bills’ defense stacked to stop Lynch, rookie QB Russell Wilson will need to continue making plays in the passing game. For that to continue, Okung and Giacomini will need to contain the player the Bills brought in during the offseason to bolster their defense, and especially the pass rush. After a slow start, Williams has five sacks in the past four games to give him 10.5 for the season and 42.5 for his career. The difference? The surgery Williams had on his left wrist during the Bills’ bye week. In the six games since the procedure, Williams has 21 tackles, seven sacks, seven QB hits, two passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
In the second half of the season, the Bills’ defense is allowing a league-low 3.1-yard per carry average. … Bills running back C.J. Spiller needs 56 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his career, and is averaging a league-best 6.6 yards. … In three games against AFC teams, Wilson has completed 67 percent of his passes (49 of 73) for 705 yards, with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions, for a 130.2 passer rating. … While McKelvin ranks fifth in the league in kickoff-return average (28.3), the Seahawks’ Leon Washington ranks second (31.2). … Ryan is seventh in the league in net average (41.7) and fifth in punts inside the 20 (27). … Golden Tate and Sidney Rice lead the Seahawks with seven touchdown receptions. Tate has four in the past five games, Rice five in the past six games. … After forcing eight turnovers last week, the Seahawks are plus-8 in turnover differential. … Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 108 tackles and linebacker Nick Barnett leads the Bills with 98.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for 12-12-12:
The Power of 12. Matt Flynn wasn’t really plugged into the energy generated by the 12th Man crowd at CenturyLink Field on game days when he signed with the Seahawks as a free agent in March.
Now, he is – especially after the backup QB saw his first action of the regular season in a 58-0 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday, when he completed 5 of 9 passes for 68 yards and directed a six-play, 62-yard drive to the final touchdown.
“Obviously it’s a huge advantage for us, noise-wise,” Flynn said today, when he and teammates shifted their focus to this week’s game against the Bills in Toronto. “And they’re smart fans. They know when to get loud and when to be quiet.
“I didn’t really know much about the Seahawks when I came up here. But they’ve opened my eyes and made me a fan of them.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman is sure the Seahawks have the best fans in the league, and says they’re deserving of any and all tributes that come their way on the numerical significant day.
“I’ve seen fans with tattoos of player’s faces,” he said. “They’re so passionate about the Seahawks around here it’s incredible. So I think it’s an incredible tribute to them. I would be happy to do anything we can to give back to the fans because they give a lot to us.”
C.J. Spiller. Not surprisingly, the Bills’ suddenly fulltime feature back is no stranger to Pete Carroll. The Seahawks coach tried to recruit Spiller while coaching at USC when he came out of Union County High School in Lake Butler, Fla. Spiller opted for Clemson, but Carroll definitely remembers him.
“I have tremendous respect for C.J. Spiller,” Carroll said. “I saw him as one of the great players we ever came across. And boy, he has really torn it up. They build the offense around him and he’ll get even more activity now. That means you have a chance for them to score on every play, run or pass.
“So it’s a big deal for our defense to get ready for that.”
The Seahawks will see a lot more of Spiller on Sunday because Fred Jackson is out with a sprained right knee. The two had been splitting time, but Spiller and his league-leading 6.6-yard per carry average are now front and center.
“We want to make sure that we respect the heck out of that, because we know that he’s such a great player,” Carroll said.
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
DE Red Bryant (foot)
SS Kam Chancellor (groin)
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Limited in practice
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
Rice was in a walking boot today after waking up Monday with a bruised foot. “He improved quite a bit from game day,” Carroll said. “But he’s got a pretty sore foot.” Carroll added that tests of Rice’s foot found nothing that should keep him from playing against the Bills.
Trufant has missed the past two games and Carroll said he’s still in process of returning from his injury.
Chancellor and Bryant sat out to rest injuries that have limited them in practice in previous weeks. Jeron Johnson and Jason Jones filled in for them. With Thurmond limited, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell worked at cornerback.
For the Bills:
Did not practice
LB Nick Barnett (knee)
S Jairus Byrd (shin)
DE Marcell Dareus (shoulder)
RB Fred Jackson (knee)
DT Spencer Johnson (knee)
CB Leodis McKelvin (groin)
DT Kyle Williams (ankle)
C Eric Wood (knee)
Limited in practice
DE Mark Anderson (knee)
CB Ron Brooks (hip)
TE Scott Chandler (groin)
OG Andy Levitre (knee)
CB Justin Rogers (foot)
TE Lee Smith (knee)
OG Kraig Urbik (knee)
LB Chris White (thumb)
WR Donald Jones (calf)
S Da’Norris Searcy (hand)
RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder)
CB Aaron Williams (knee)
DE Mario Williams (wrist)
NO MORE PADS
The players practiced without pads today and will for the rest of the season because the team has utilized the allotted number of padded practices allowed under the CBA that ended the 136-day lockout in 2010.
“This is the first ‘Competition Wednesday’ that we cherish so much that we aren’t in pads,” Carroll said. “I talked at length with the guys about that so we still gear and get our tempo and our speed and all the things we need to get done and still compete.
“This is a bit of a transition, so it’s a huge day. There’s a change coming up, so I’m concerned about it and want to get this thing started right.”
CLOSE, BUT …
Lynch and Sherman were nominees for NFC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, but the selections were Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ win over the Bears, while Lynch had 128 yards and three TDs – on 11 carries – in the Seahawks win over the Cardinals. Kuechly had a career-high 16 tackles in the Panthers’ upset of the Falcons, while Sherman returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and also recovered a fumble against the Cardinals.
The Seahawks have had four players selected this season: quarterback Russell Wilson (last week), defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 4), Sherman (Week 10) and kick returner Leon Washington (Week 12).
WHICH SEAHAWKS DESERVE YOUR PRO BOWL VOTE?
Fan balloting for the Pro Bowl ends on Monday, so you’ve only got a few days left to rock the vote for the worthy Seahawks.
Lynch is second (431,114) among the NFC running backs to Peterson (668,942), but there are others who need your help – including center Max Unger, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, free safety Earl Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, punter Jon Ryan and special teams standout Heath Farwell.
You can cast your vote here.
Fan balloting counts one third toward selection of the NFC squad, with the coaches and players scheduled to cast their votes Dec. 20-21.
STAT DU JOUR
Staying with this 12-thing, the 12th Man helped prod three false-start penalties out of the Cardinals on Sunday, raising the league-leading total at CenturyLink Field to 119 since the start of the 2005 season. For those not in the stadium to see the scoreboard graphic that ticks off the false starts as they occur, here’s a look at the league leaders in that category during that span:
Stadium (team) False starts
CenturyLink Field (Seahawks) 119
Metrodome (Vikings) 115
Ford Field (Lions) 107
Edward Jones Dome (Rams) 102
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for their final road game of the regular season. With the game in Toronto, the team will travel on Friday following a midday practice and hold its Saturday walkthrough in Toronto.
YOU DON’T SAY
“He’s just totally out of character. I don’t know where that’s coming from. But, keep running.” – fullback Michael Robinson on the pile-moving Lynch bouncing outside to score on a 33-yard run and then hurdling a couple of fallen players on a 20-yard TD run against the Cardinals