A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 19:
The day after having the bye week off. The Seahawks held their first full practice since Nov. 9, a “Bonus Monday” session where they began focusing on Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in Miami.
They were refreshed, rested and energized. And it showed.
“It was fun to be back,” coach Pete Carroll said. “These guys, I think, really appreciated the break. They’re fired up about our prospects of doing something good here. They came back with a lot of energy and they feel really good, like you would expect.
“You could tell. You could tell just by the way they ran around today that they had a lot of spring in their step.”
The Seahawks now need to use the rest from the bye week, coupled with the momentum gained from winning their past two games, as a springboard toward “doing something good here,” as Carroll put it.
And that was the emphasis in his message to the players as they gathered for a team meeting at noon.
“We need to take advantage of the beak by coming back and practicing really well this week and getting all the little things done,” Carroll said. “One of the things that can get lost is that you have all your discipline and you have all of the timing down, just because you might feel like you do.
“I don’t want to take that for granted. So the discipline that we execute this week, starting on Wednesday – it started today – is crucial. We’ve got to go out and play really good football and we want to continue to do that. Which means the timing. That means the line of scrimmage. That means penalties. That means taking care of the football. All of those things are really what’s at hand right now.”
There was that thought in the locker room after the pre-bye win over the Jets that the Seahawks were on a roll and the week off might interrupt the momentum. But to a player, they agreed today that the break and the rest that came with it were needed and beneficial.
“It can throw you off. You can get thrown out of whack because you’re in those routines, and though they’re routines hopefully they’re good routines and habits,” Carroll said. “So I’m not taking it for granted that we’ve just got it nailed and we’re back in full steam again.
“I want to make sure that this is a very strict week and very disciplined week to make sure that we recapture the timing and the things we’ve been doing.”
Left guard James Carpenter was the only player who did not participate in today’s practice, which was held in the indoor practice facility for obvious reasons. Carpenter still has more tests to take, Carroll said, before he can he cleared to return to practice.
“We’ll find out Wednesday if he’s cleared to go,” Carroll said.
Strongside linebacker K.J. Wright was back after missing the pre-bye game against the Jets as well as most of the game against the Vikings the week before because of a concussion.
“We’re very fortunate right now,” Carroll said. “We’re very fortunate to be this healthy at this point. Hopefully we’ll make the most of it.”
STATS ’N STUFF
The Seahawks didn’t play over the weekend, but some things didn’t change.
Marshawn Lynch remains No. 2 in the league in rushing with 1,005 yards – 123 behind Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, who also had their bye. Buccaneers’ rookie Doug Martin did close the gap and now is just 5 yards behind Lynch. Peterson (1,283) and Lynch (1,142) slipped to second and third in total yards behind Martin (1,319).
Russell Wilson also remained No. 12 in the league is passer rating (90.5), and is No. 6 in fourth-quarter passer rating (96.2).
Jon Ryan is No. 4 in punting average (49.0) and third in net average (42.5), while Leon Washington is tied for seventh in kickoff return average (28.3).
Richard Sherman is tied for fourth in interceptions (four), while Bruce Irvin continues to lead all rookies in sacks (seven).
The Seahawks actually improved one spot in total defense to No. 3, allowing an average of 296.8 yards. They are No. 2 against the pass and No. 12 against the run. They also are No. 6 in rushing offense, but No. 26 overall because they’re last in passing offense.
STAT DU JOUR
This one comes from NFC West blogger Mike Sando at ESPN.com and it’s even a day old, but it also definitely is worth repeating: Wilson is the only non-offensive lineman in the NFC West to play every offensive snap for his team this season.
The players will have their usual off day on Tuesday before returning on Wednesday to continue preparing for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
Looking even farther down the week, the Sunday forecast in Miami is calling for a high of 76 degrees with zero percent chance of precipitation.
YOU DON’T SAY
“In a copy-cat league where personnel decisions and play-calling never gets very far out of the box, (GM John) Schneider and Carroll buck traditional, safe decision-making and do what they believe in. If you have no other reason to root for the Seahawks, there’s a good place to start.” – former Seahawks linebacker and now 710 ESPN analyst Dave Wyman in this piece posted
The first round of fan balloting for the Pro Bowl has been announced, and the Seahawks need your help.
Running back Marshawn Lynch and punter Jon Ryan rank second at their positions, behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and Packers’ Tim Masthay. Peterson is fifth among all players and second to the Texans’ Arian Foster at running back with 298,323 votes.
Five of the Top 10 vote-getters are quarterbacks – No. 1 Peyton Manning, No. 2 Tom Brady, No. 4 Aaron Rodgers, No. 9 Matt Ryan and No. 10 Drew Brees.
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor is No. 3 at his position. Defensive end Chris Clemons and free safety Earl Thomas are fourth at their respective spots, while center Max Unger and kick returner Leon Washington are fifth.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Richard Sherman and special teams standout Heath Farwell aren’t even among the Top 5 at their positions.
Fan balloting runs through Monday, Dec. 17, and counts one-third toward the selection of the NFC and AFC squads the will play in the NFL all-star game on Jan. 27. The coaches and players in the league will cast their votes in December, and each will count one-third.
You can help the Seahawks’ players improve their current standing by voting here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 12:
Rest and rehabilitation. That’s the focus for the week, not just the day, as coach Pete Carroll has given his players the rest of the week off during their bye.
There were other options, although limited, but none as appealing – and appropriate – as allowing the players some downtime before they return next Monday to begin preparing for the Nov. 25 game against the Dolphins in Miami.
“Taking everything into account, and the fact we’ve got to give them four days off (under the new CBA), it really doesn’t give you many options,” said Carroll, who was loose and relaxed as he looked toward his bye week as well.
“I didn’t feel like it was going to worth enough for what we could gain (in practicing).”
So he opted for rest and rehabilitation – although the players did leave today after a series of meetings with workout plans for Wednesday and Friday.
“Wherever they are,” Carroll said. “But I really don’t want them to try and do very much in terms of conditioning or strength work. We talked to them about, ‘Don’t go back to your guru workout guy and start carrying sandbags up hills.’ We’ve given them pretty strict guidelines.”
But Carroll also feels that the players have earned this break.
“I do feel good about where we’re going,” said Carroll, and he wasn’t talking about the trip to Miami. “We have worked really hard and the guys have performed very consistently. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do in terms of the prep and the focus and bringing it week in and week out.”
With Carroll’s trust comes the need for reciprocal trust from the players.
“Now we do have to see how we respond to the break,” he said. “But the motivation for me is that I believe these guys get it and they understand what we’re trying to get done. Now we have to prove that by how we perform next week.”
TAKING THE FOURTH
After controlling the ball for 12 minutes, 10 seconds of the fourth quarter in their victory over the Vikings last week, the Seahawks held it for 12:05 against the Jets in final quarter.
“The highlight to me is that we again finished really well,” Carroll said. “We had the ball for over 12 minutes in the fourth quarter and ran the ball like crazy, and owned it, and scored a couple touchdowns, and finished really well – the way that we like to.
“So that’s a couple weeks in a row of really good, solid ball; playing in kind of the formula that we would like to play in. It was great to do it here at home.”
Against the Vikings, Russell Wilson completed 4 of 6 passes for 58 yards, while Marshawn Lynch carried for 23 of the team’s 43 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Sunday, Lynch averaged 10 yards on six carries, while Wilson was 3 of 3 for 55 yards as the Seahawks scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns – one on Wilson’s beautifully thrown 31-yard pass to Sidney Rice; the other, again to Rice, on a 23-yard pass by wide receiver Golden Tate.
The Seahawks have played the past two games without left guard James Carpenter, and all of Sunday’s game against the Jets and most of last week’s game against the Vikings without strongside linebacker K.J. Wright. But Carroll expects both concussed players to be back for practice next Monday.
In fact, he is anticipating just about all players to practice next week, after as many as eight sat out last week.
“When we get back to work, we’ll have almost everybody,” Carroll said. “That’s a really good note this late in the season. We’ll have a bunch of guys who should feel rested, but then also to get the guys back from the head knocks they’ve had and the bumps and the bruises, we’re going to be pretty solid as we go into the Miami game.”
Carroll also said that Carpenter and John Moffitt, who has replaced him the past two games, would compete for the left guard spot in practice. But he then added, “Carp, if he feels good and he’s right, we’d like to get him back in there.”
STATS ’N STUFF
Lynch is second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,005) – 123 behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and 133 yards ahead of the Texans’ Arian Foster. Lynch also is third in the league in total yards (1,142) and tied for sixth in first downs (49).
Wilson has jumped to 12th in the league in passer rating (90.5), but he’s No. 6 in fourth-quarter passer rating (96.2). Wilson also has become the first rookie QB to win his first five home games since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970.
Jon Ryan is third in the league in punting average (49.0) and fourth in net average (42.5), while Leon Washington is eighth in kickoff return average (28.3).
Cornerback Richard Sherman is tied for third in interceptions (four), while ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin are tied for 10th in sacks (seven). Irvin, who had two sacks against the Jets, leads all NFL rookies.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner continues to lead the team in tackles (81), while Heath Farwell has 10 coverage tackles to lead the special teams.
STAT DU JOUR
With 1,005 rushing yards after 10 games, Lynch is on pace for the third-best season total in franchise history (1,608). The only back with more yards in a single season is all-time leading rusher Shaun Alexander, who had a club-record 1,880 in 2005 and 1,696 in 2004. Here’s how Lynch’s 10-game totals compare to those of Alexander in ’04 and ’05:
Player (year) Att. Yards Avg. 100 TD
Marshawn Lynch (2012) 212 1,005 4.7 6 5
Shaun Alexander (2005) 232 1,229 5.3 7 19
Shaun Alexander (2004) 224 1,151 5.1 5 10
With the players off until next Monday, Hawkville also will go on hiatus for the rest of the week.
While the focus needs to remain on the Dolphins, Carroll stressed, he is aware of what awaits the team after its post-bye trips to Miami and Chicago – not only three of four at home to close the regular season, but three games at CenturyLink Field against the NFC West rivals who beat the Seahawks on the road in the first seven weeks of the season.
“It’s going to be a great finish in terms of the division,” Carroll said. “Because of our failures early, each one of those games is going to mean a ton to us as we finish the season.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“Marshawn Lynch, 27 carries for 124 yards. And we hardly noticed. We take his greatness for granted too much.” – Peter King in the “What I Liked” section of his Monday Morning Quarterback at SI.com
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Records: Seahawks 5-4 after last week’s 30-20 victory over the Vikings; Jets, who had their bye last week, 3-5 after a 30-9 loss to the Dolphins on Oct. 28
TV: CBS (KIRO/7 in the greater Seattle area), with Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
Radio: 710 ESPN and KIRO 97.3, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: Rams (3-5) at 49ers (6-2); Cardinals (4-5) have their bye
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson vs. Jets QB Mark Sanchez: Just call it the quarterback Pete Carroll selected to direct his current team against the quarterback he didn’t want to leave his former team (at USC). But here they are, and their performances will go a long way in determining the outcome of Sunday’s game. Wilson seems to be finding his game – especially in the past two games, when he has completed 69 percent of his passes (41 of 59) for 409 yards, with five touchdown passes and one interception, for a passer rating of 110.0. And he’s been even better is going 4-0 at CenturyLink Field – when Wilson has completed 62 percent of his passes (57 of 92) for 747 yards, with nine TDs and no picks, for a passer rating of 120.2. Sanchez seems to be searching for his game, as does his team. He is completing 53 percent of his passes (144 of 272) for 1,736 yards, with 10 TDs and eight interceptions, for a passer rating of 72.8 that ranks 30th in the league.
One to watch
The first quarter: The Jets have scored 28 first-quarter points in eight games. Only nine teams have scored fewer, and their combined record is 27-47. The Seahawks have scored 53 first-quarter points, more than in any other quarter. In their past six games, the Seahawks have scored five times on their opening possession – a touchdown and four field goals. They’ve been even better on their second possession, with three touchdowns and a field in their past four games. It’s a trend that needs to continue, because it will energize the crowd and help make the Jets not only one dimensional but prompt those feelings of here we go again.
Fun to watch
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. the Jets’ defense: Lynch is in his Beast Mode zone, with 881 rushing yards to rank second in the NFL and five 100-yard efforts in nine games to lead the league. The Jets are in a zone that coach Rex Ryan does not recognize, allowing averages of 141.4 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry – way up from a year ago, when it was 111.1 and 3.9. Worse yet, the Jets have allowed 485 yards after contact, the second-highest total in the league. Lynch, meanwhile, has 359 yards after contact, also the second-highest total in the league. Lynch is no stranger to Jets coach Rex Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator with the Ravens when Lynch was playing for the Bills. “He’s one tough dude, let’s put it that way. He’s one tough, tough rascal,” Ryan said this week. “He’s a very powerful, physical runner and you never assume that this kid’s down.”
One tough task
The Jets vs. the situation: They’ve lost four of their last five games and now it’s a cross-country trip to play a team that is unbeaten at home this season. As Ryan put it, “This week is probably about as difficult of a challenge as a team can face. Here’s a team that’s 4-0 at home, with wins over Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay and New England. It starts with the running game, of course. But, oh by the way, the quarterback has a 120 rating at home, which would be the best in the National Football League. So that’s certainly going to be a challenge. And on defense, they’re the fourth-rated defense in the National Football League. They’re a big, physical group with some guys that can really rush the passer. So it’s definitely a huge challenge for us.”
Carroll’s first head coaching job in the NFL was with the Jets in 1994. … Jets running back Shonn Greene has scored five rushing touchdowns, but is averaging 3.7 yards per carry – lowest among those ranked in the Top 20 in the league. But he has converted each of his seven attempts on third-and-1, which leads the league. … Seahawks punter Jon Ryan is third in the league in average (50.0) and fifth in net average (42.6). .. The Seahawks’ Leon Washington (29.1), a former Jet, ranks sixth in the league in kickoff-return average. The Jets’ Joe McKnight (29.3) is fifth, but he is out with an ankle injury. … The Seahawks rank sixth in the league in average yards gained (6.09) and allowed (4.82) on first downs. … The Jets rank fifth in the league in average starting position after kickoffs (24.2-yard line), while the Seahawks are fifth in opponent starting point (20.2). … Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 72 tackles, while middle linebacker David Harris leads the Jets with 75.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 6:
Midseason All-Pros. That would be Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, as selected by Pro Football Weekly.
The Seahawks’ leading rusher, left cornerback and free safety were tabbed by the online publication today for their obvious efforts in the first eight games of the season. Here’s what PFW had to say in selecting each, with additional statistical information:
Lynch – “Lynch’s ‘Beast Mode’ style has set the tone for Pete Carroll’s physical Seahawks, who have held their own in a bruising NFC West. Always falling forward and rarely losing yards, Lynch is on pace to crack 1,500 rushing yards for the first time in his career, gaining a personal-best 97.9 yards per game.”
Entering Sunday’s game against the Jets at CenturyLink Field, Lynch ranks second in the league in rushing to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, the other back on the PFW midseason All-Pro team. He’s also third in the league in total yards (991).
Sherman – “A very tall, very physical press corner, Sherman declared himself ‘Optimus Prime’ in challenging Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson in Week 8, and effectively limited the Lions’ top threat to 3-46-0 receiving. Sherman occasionally can have penalty problems, but this converted wide receiver plays with a swagger and is very tough to beat.”
Sherman has three interceptions to share the team lead with fellow cornerback Brandon Browner, and leads the defense with 11 passes defensed.
Thomas – “Another huge part of the Seahawks’ ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary, Thomas is a punishing hitter who also shows great range, rarely getting beaten over the top. He’s incredibly fast but also very strong for his size, and while his numbers haven’t been incredible, he has the tools to pile up interceptions in a hurry.”
Thomas was voted the starting free safety on the NFC West Pro Bowl team last season, and this season he has two interceptions.
STATS ’N STUFF
Jon Ryan is third in the league in punting average (50.0) and fifth in net average (42.6), while Leon Washington is sixth in kickoff return average (29.1).
Russell Wilson’s passer rating of 87.2 ranks 11th in the league. Both are up from 79.5 and No. 22 just two weeks ago. Completing 69 percent of your passes (41 of 59) for 409 yards with five TD passes and one interception in the past two games will do that.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team in tackles with 72, while Heath Farwell remains the leader in coverage tackles on special teams with nine.
As a team, the Seahawks rank fourth in the league is total defense (11th rushing, seventh passing) and 29th in total offense (seventh rushing, 31st passing).
STAT DU JOUR
Wilson has become the sixth rookie quarterback since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 to start 4-0 at home. Here’s a look at the select company he has joined, and those who rank ahead of him:
Quarterback, team (year) Start
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004) 7-0
Chris Chandler, Colts (1988) 6-0
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 4-0
Joe Ferguson, Bills (1973) 4-0
Mike Kruczek, Steelers (1976) 4-0
Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008) 4-0
The players return from their off day on Tuesday to begin practicing for Sunday’s game on “Competition Wednesday.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“(Darrell) Bevell called an excellent game against his former team. He is playing to the strengths of the offense and his quarterback specifically. Seattle has mixed deep passes with short throws with zone runs with quarterback options to keep defenses guessing. This was a diverse offense on display against the Vikings.” – ESPN blogger Mike Sando, listing the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator among the “Rising” in his weekly NFC West Stock Watch
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 30:
Russell Wilson. Looking for a reason to be optimistic about the second half of the Seahawks’ season? Look to the team’s rookie quarterback, and let coach Pete Carroll be your tour guide.
“One of the big focuses in looking at the quarterback position – you all ask those questions, ‘How’s he doing?’ and all – he’s had a very prosperous first half of his first year,” said Carroll, the team’s third-year coach. “In that he’s grown, he’s been attacked, he’s been under the gun in so many games.
“And Russell has shown his ways and his character and his athleticism. He’s done some great stuff first time around.”
At the top of Wilson’s great-stuff list was his performance in Week 6 against the Patriots and Tom Brady. It was Wilson, and not Brady, who threw two TD passes in the final 7½ minutes to rally the Seahawks to a 24-23 victory.
At the bottom of Wilson’s not-so-great-stuff list was his performance four days later, when he completed 9 of 23 passes in a 13-6 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.
But Wilson bounced back from that effort to lead the Seahawks to a go-ahead TD with 5½ minutes to play in Detroit on Sunday. The Lions then drove 80 yards to a score that won the game, but it didn’t diminish Wilson’s play in the 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended with his 16-yard TD pass to tight end Zach Miller.
“But he needs to get better,” Carroll said. “Just like everybody does. He’d be the first to tell you that. We need to improve and keep getting things moving in a positive direction. We need to be better on third downs and continue to fight to be better in the red zone.”
Entering Sunday’s game against the Vikings at CenturyLink Field, Wilson is completing 61.4 percent of his passes (129 of 210) for 1,466 yards, with 10 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, for a passer rating of 82.4 that ranks second in the league among the rookie starters – Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (97.3); but well ahead of the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill (75.8), Colts’ Andrew Luck (74.6) and Browns’ Brandon Weeden (70.8).
OBOMANU TO IR
Ben Obomanu’s seventh season with the Seahawks has come to an unlucky end. The veteran wide receiver was placed on injured reserve today because of the wrist injury he got in Sunday’s loss to the Lions in Detroit.
Obomanu, a seventh-round draft choice in 2006, caught four passes for 58 yards and a team-high 14.5-yard average.
With Obomanu out for the remainder of the season, rookie wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was signed off the practice squad and rookie Phil Bates, who was with the team in training camp, was added to the practice squad.
The team also released cornerback Danny Gorrer and used his roster spot to sign tackle Mike Person off the practice squad.
STATS ’N STUFF
Leon Washington is second in the NFC and fifth in the NFL in kickoff return average (29.8), while Jon Ryan is second in the NFC and third in the NFC in punting average (50.2) and third in the NFC and seventh in the NFL in net average (41.9).
Marshawn Lynch is second in the conference and league in rushing yards (757) and total yards (841) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (775 and 914).
Richard Sherman has three interceptions to tie for fifth in the league, while Chris Clemons has seven sacks to tie for seventh.
The Seahawks rank fifth in the league in total defense and rushing defense, and 13th in passing; while the offense is 30th overall, eighth in rushing and 31st in passing.
Linebacker K.J. Wright continues to lead the team with 63 tackles, one more than rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Heath Farwell (eight) and Chris Maragos (seven) lead the special teams in coverage tackles.
STAT DU JOUR
Lynch has surpassed 100 rushing yards 10 times for the Seahawks in the past 17 games. But his 77-yard touchdown run against the Lions on Sunday allowed him to reach triple digits in the fewest carries. He’s a look at his 100-yard games, ranked not by most yards but fewest carries – with the top two coming in the past two games:
Opponent (date) No. Yards Avg.
Lions (Oct. 29, 2012) 12 105 8.8
49ers (Oct. 18, 2012) 19 103 5.4
Rams (Sept. 30, 2012) 20 118 5.9
49ers (Dec. 24, 2011) 21 107 5.1
Eagles (Dec. 1, 2011) 22 148 6.7
Cowboys (Nov. 6, 2011) 23 135 5.9
Rams (Dec. 12, 2011) 23 115 5.0
Redskins (Nov. 27, 2011) 24 111 4.6
Cowboys (Sept. 16, 2012) 26 122 4.7
Ravens (Nov. 13, 2011) 32 109 3.4
The players return from their off day to begin practicing for Sunday’s game against the Vikings on “Competition Wednesday.”
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. today at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.
YOU DON’T SAY
“For all of the young guys that are starting and playing a great deal right now, this is the end of their college season. So they’ve got to get the second wind and get back with it and make sure that we can continue to improve.” – Carroll
With the Seahawks reaching the midway point of their season, here’s a look at the best from their 4-4 start:
MVP: Marshawn Lynch. Four 100-yard rushing games. At least 85 rushing yards in seven of the eight games. A career-best 4.8-yard average. No. 2 in the league is rushing, 18 yards behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. A combined 170 touches with only 12 minus-yardage plays, offset by 14 runs of 10-plus yards. As lead-blocking fullback Michael Robinson put it, “If we know anything, we know the dude can run the ball.” And just when you thought you’d seen the entire Lynch portfolio, he breaks a career-long 77-yard touchdown run in Sunday’s game against the Lions. “He doesn’t generally run straight that long,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s usually moving everywhere. So it was fun to kind of watch him run in a straight line for once. And he looked pretty darn good.”
Best defensive player: Brandon Mebane. Chris Clemons and his seven sacks deserve mention, but the team’s nose tackle has been the best and most consistent player on the Seahawks’ No. 5-ranked defense. Mebane had the glitch game of his season in San Francisco, when the 49ers ran for 175 yards – 88 more than the next-highest total the Seahawks have allowed. But he also bounced back in a big way on Sunday against the Lions with his third sack of the season and six tackles. Mebane also had tipped three passes and recovered a fumble.
Best offensive player not named Marshawn Lynch: Max Unger. As hard as Lynch runs, and as difficult as he is to bring down, he’s also the first to point out that he couldn’t do all the things he does without the help of his blockers – and Unger is in the middle of everything at the center spot; flanked on the left side by tackle Russell Okung and guard James Carpenter and on the right side by tackle Breno Giacomini and guard Paul McQuistan. Unger has been solid from his first snap of the season, and also earns bonus points with the job he has done in helping rookie QB Russell Wilson go over and understand the pass protection each week.
Best special teams player: Heath Farwell. Punter Jon Ryan and Chris Maragos deserve honorable mention. But the most consistent member of the Seahawks’ consistently good special teams has been Farwell, who leads the units with eight coverage tackles. But with the special teams co-captain, it’s not just what he does; it’s also what he sees. Prime example numero uno: The play he read and then made on kickoff coverage in the Week 4 game at St. Louis. “On the field, Heath alerted everybody, ‘Hey watch the reverse,’ ” special teams coordinator Brian Schneider said. “Sure enough, they did a reverse and Heath made the tackle on the 5-yard line.” Farwell was the NFC Pro Bowl special teams player in 2009 while with the Vikings. He’s playing well enough to deserve another Pro Bowl berth this season.
Best rookie: Bobby Wagner. No one was sure just how quickly the second-round draft choice would be able to handle all the duties of three-time leading tackler David Hawthorne, who was allowed to leave in free agency. Well, first Wagner won the starting job in training camp. Then, he took over calling the plays in the huddle. Last month, he moved into the sub packages used on passing down. Now, he’s second on the team with 62 tackles – one behind strongside ’backer K.J. Wright.
Most improved offensive rookie: Russell Wilson. And not just because the rookie QB is coming off his best game in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. In addition to completing 71 percent of his passes (25 of 35) for 236 yards and two touchdowns, it was the poise and command Wilson displayed in doing it. But his numbers from the first four games to the next four games jumped in every positive category – completions (69, from 60); passing yards (872, from 594); TD passes (six, from four); and especially passer rating (90.4, from 73.5).
Most improved defensive rookie: Wagner. A bit redundant perhaps, but what he’s done is worth repeating. In the past three games, Wagner has 12, eight and 14 tackles. Like Wilson, he seems to be getting better with each start.
Best free-agent addition: Jason Jones. His value was never more apparent than when he wasn’t able to play against the Lions because of an ankle injury. Without Jones in the middle of the nickel defense line, Matthew Stafford had way too much time while completing 34 of 49 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns. Jones has 2.5 sacks but, as Carroll says, his real value is in the things he does that helps others make plays. And that’s why he was signed.
Joe Nash Award (or, what would they do without him): Leroy Hill. This went to McQuistan at the quarter pole, and could again as he has moved from left guard to right guard without missing a beat – or many blocks. But Hill continues to produce as the elder starter on the defense. He picked up his first sack of the season against the Lions, and his tackle total (29) isn’t a true indication of his impact.
Best trend: A 3-0 record at home. The Seahawks found ways to upset the Cowboys, Packers and Patriots in the first half of the season. It needs to continue, as they will play five of their final eight games at CenturyLink Field – including rematches with the other three teams in the NFC West, who already have beaten the Seahawks in the away portion of their home-and-home series.
Worst trend: Third downs. It’s tempting to opt for the 1-4 record on the road, but the Seahawks’ inability to get off the field on third downs and prolong possessions by converting third downs plays directly into the road woes. A defense that is capable of doing so many other things well, is allowing opponents to convert 43.9 percent on third downs – 46.0 percent in the four road losses. An offense that is looking to gain more consistency is converting 32.7 percent on the pivotal down.
Best offensive play: Wilson’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 78 seconds remaining against the Patriots in Week 6. As good as Lynch’s 77-yard TD run was against the Lions; Wilson’s timely toss to Rice won that game.
Best defensive plays: This is plural, because it was Clemons collecting four sacks in the second quarter of the Week 3 upset of the Packers.
Best special teams plays: Again, it’s plural because of Ryan’s quartet of punts against the Patriots, as he became the third player in NFL history – and the first since 1946 – to average 60-plus yards on four kicks. Ryan hit it right at 60.0, with four punts for 240 yards, with a long of 66.
DETROIT – A recap of the Seahawks’ 28-24 loss to the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matthew Stafford. The Lions’ quarterback threw, and threw, and then threw some more. Stafford didn’t stop until he had passed his team to victory with a 1-yard pass to Titus Young with 20 seconds left in the game.
It was Stafford’s 49th pass of the afternoon, and 34th completion. Not to mention his third TD pass. Oh, and he also ran for a touchdown to give the Lions a 21-17 lead with 11½ minutes remaining. But after Russell Wilson led a 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended with his 16-yard TD pass to tight end Zach Miller that gave the Seahawks a 24-21 lead with 5½ minutes left, Stafford didn’t blink. He just kept throwing on the 16-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his game-winner.
“It was a great win for Detroit,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll conceded. “They kind of did what they wanted to do. Stafford did a really good job moving the ball around like he needed to.”
That was perhaps the most frustrating part of Stafford rallying the Lions not once by twice in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks held Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson in check (three catches for 36 yards). It was Titus Young, who was filling in for injured former Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson, and tight end Brandon Pettigrew that they had trouble with. Young (nine for 100) and Pettigrew (seven for 74) combined to catch 16 passes for 174 of Stafford’s 352 passing yards.
Stafford was at his best on third downs, completing 14 of 15 for 111 yards and two TDs.
“Anyone of those, if we had gotten a stop, it would have changed the game,” Carroll said.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: The game-winner, of course, as Stafford found Young on a third-and-goal play – and with the Seahawks in zone coverage in the end zone.
Defense: Earl Thomas’ third-quarter interception, because of when it came – as the Lions were driving; and where it came – at the Seahawks’ 3-yard line. It was the kind of play the Seahawks needed more of on this afternoon. It also was somewhat wasted, because rookie QB Russell Wilson was picked off six plays later by safety Ricardo Silva at the Lions’ 18-yard line.
“I thought Sidney was saying, ‘I put my hand up, I’m going (downfield),’ ” Wilson said. “He was saying, ‘Hey, throw it to me now.’ So it was just one of those situations.”
Special teams: Jon Ryan’s 64-yard punt. Again, because of when it came – after a three-and-out; and where it came – with the Seahawks deep in their own territory. But also because of where it put the Lions – at their 19-yard line.
Fullback Michael Robinson and wide receiver Ben Obomanu got sprained wrists, while wide receiver Golden Tate tweaked an ankle.
The Seahawks also played without wide receiver Braylon Edwards and rush-tackle Jason Jones.
Edwards participated in Saturday’s walkthrough at a local high school, and Carroll said he would split reps with Tate at split end. But Edwards woke up Sunday morning with a swollen knee. It was drained, but then became swollen again after he went through pregame warm-ups. So he was inactive.
Jones missed practice all week because of an ankle injury, and Carroll credited his inability to play with the Seahawks’ inability to generate more pressure on Stafford.
While the Lions were converting 75 percent of their third-down situations (12 of 16), the Seahawks converted 33 percent (3 of 9).
Each team was 3 of 3 in red-zone situations, but the Lions got three touchdowns on possession inside the Seahawks’ 20-yard line, while the Seahawks got two TDs and a field goal in their red-zone possessions.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (12) and second-year strongside linebacker K.J. Wright (11) combined for 23 tackles.
Wilson’s interception was his eighth of the season, and all have come in road games.
Marshawn Lynch carried 12 times for 105 yards, including a 77-yard TD that was the longest run of his career. He has four 100-yard rushing games this season and 10 in his past 17 games.
The Seahawks are 1-4 on the road this season, and 6-15 in 2½ seasons under Carroll.
The Seahawks were penalized only twice for 10 yards, each a season-low.
YOU DON’T SAY
“These young guys know that we’re OK. They know that we can play football and we can hang tough. We just have to come back and get going and see if we can’t put together a second half that really makes this season feel like we’re going in the right direction and we’re making great progress. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that we can. We’ve just got to go do it.” – Carroll
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 23:
Pro Bowl voting. The polls are open, so let the debates begin.
Fan voting for the NFC and AFC squads has begun at NFL.com, and you can cast your votes here. But who deserves your vote among the Seahawks?
Earl Thomas was voted the starting free safety on the NFC team last season, while strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner were first alternates and added as injury replacements. Each is playing a big role on the Seahawks’ No. 5-ranked defense.
Marshawn Lynch also was a first alternate last year who was added to the team as an injury replacement. This season, he is second in the NFC and tied for third in the league with 652 rushing yards and second in the NFC in total yards with 735.
Chris Clemons already has seven sacks, which ties the Seahawks’ “Leo” end for second in the NFC and third in the league.
Richard Sherman, the fourth member of the Seahawks’ secondary, has three interceptions, which ties the second-year cornerback for fourth in the NFL, and he also leads the team with 11 passes defensed.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane is in the middle of everything the defense does, and has 26 tackles to pace the linemen. He also has a pair of sacks and has deflected three passes.
Fullback Michael Robinson was another first alternate last season who was added to the squad as an injury replacement, and he continues to provide Lynch with lead blocks against some of the best middle linebackers in the game.
Center Max Unger also draws high marks – and praise – for his efforts in anchoring the line and opening holes for Lynch.
Heath Farwell, who led the league with 21 coverage tackles in only 11 games last season, has eight in seven games.
Punter Jon Ryan is second in the NFC in average (50.4) and fifth in net average (41.4) – putting him on pace to break the club records that he already holds in each category.
Fan balloting, which concludes Dec. 17, counts one-third toward selecting the Pro Bowl squads. The other two thirds will be provided when the players and coaches vote in December. The NFC and AFC teams will be announced De. 26.
Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ QB has become the first rookie since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 to throw two game-winning touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
The first was a 24-yarder to Golden Tate on the final play of the Monday night win over the Packers. The second was a 46-yarder to Sidney Rice with 78 seconds left in the win over the Patriots. Both came at CenturyLink Field.
“I think he’s done some pretty extraordinary things,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I think he’s played within the format that we have setup for him well. … He’s grown. He’s corrected things. And he’s totally in control, poise-wise, in the game and in the situation.
“I think he can do special things. There are just not very many kids that are as well prepared to take on the workload, and the stress of it, and the pressure and all of that, as he is.”
STATS ’N STUFF
In addition to the Seahawks’ No. 5 ranking in average yards allowed, the defense also is No. 6 against the run and No. 8 against the pass. The offense ranks No. 30 overall, No. 8 rushing and No. 31 passing.
The Seahawks also rank second (12.9) in the league to the Bears (10.7) in average points allowed by the defensive unit.
Strongside linebacker K.J. Wright has regained sole possession of the team lead in tackles with 52 – two more than rookie middle linebackers Bobby Wagner, who has 43 of his 50 tackles in the past five games.
Leon Washington is fourth in the league in kickoff return average (31.7).
Lynch also is tied for 10th in the league in first downs produced with 33 (28 rushing, five receiving).
STAT DU JOUR
Rice leads the Seahawks with 22 receptions and, not surprisingly, also is the leader in targets. Here’s a look at the targets and catches by the Seahawks’ top nine receivers, ranked by number of times the ball has been thrown their way:
Player Targets Catches
Sidney Rice 38 22
Golden Tate 27 13
Doug Baldwin 19 11
Zach Miller 18 14
Braylon Edwards 15 8
Anthony McCoy 15 8
Marshawn Lynch 12 10
Robert Turbin 10 9
Ben Obomanu 9 4
The players return from their off day to continue practicing for Sunday’s game against the Lions in Detroit. This game marks the conclusion of a five-week stretch where the Seahawks played on the road four times.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The biggest issue I have with our team right now is we’ve got to get the football away from our opponents. They’ve gone quiet a little bit on the turnover thing. I know that we’ll do better at home, we have historically. But here we go on the road again. We’ve got to get the football away from our opponent, which gives us field advantages, shorter opportunities to get into scoring zones and all that kind of stuff.” – Carroll on the Seahawks forcing four turnovers in their three homes games compared to six in their four road games; but turning the ball over nine times in their four road games compared to twice in their three home games
Who deserves Pro Bowl recognition for the Seahawks?
Defensive end Chris Clemons, who is tied for second in the NFC with seven sacks? Free safety Earl Thomas, who was voted the starter on the NFC squad last season? Marshawn Lynch, who is second in the conference in rushing? The cornerback tandem of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, as Browner was a first alternate last year who was added to the squad as an injury replacement and Sherman is tied for fourth in the NFL with three interceptions? Center Max Unger, who anchors the line that opens the holes for Lynch? Fullback Michael Robinson and strong safety Kam Chancellor, also first alternates last season who were added to the squad? Nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who’s in the middle of everything for the No. 3-ranked defense and run defense in the NFC? Punter Jon Ryan, who is second in the NFC in average (50.4) and fifth in net average (41.4)?
Now you can have more than just opinion. You can vote on any or all of these players for the NFC Pro Bowl squad, as fan balloting began today at NFL.com.
The fan votes count one-third in selecting the team, which also will be voted on by players and coaches in the NFC. The selections will be announced Dec. 26.
Fan balloting will conclude Monday, Dec. 17. You can cast your votes here.