Thursday cyber surfing: Similarities evident between Seahawks, 49ers

Russell Wilson

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 20.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times takes a look at how the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have changed since their first meeting of the season back on October 18, “In their past two games, the Seahawks have scored 108 points in wins over Arizona and Buffalo. The Seahawks haven’t changed quarterbacks like San Francisco, but they’re hoping it’s a different Russell Wilson on Sunday. In the first 49ers game, Wilson had his worst statistical performance, completing just 9 of 23 passes for 122 yards, with a key interception late in the game on a long pass intended for Braylon Edwards. But that’s another distant memory. ‘It all begins with the quarterback, obviously,’ said wide receiver Doug Baldwin. ‘Russell is playing at an extremely high level right now. It’s just the maturity and growth, and we’ve all come to grow with him. This offense as a whole has been able to rally behind the things he does well. At the beginning of the season, we were kind of searching for that.’ After the 49ers game, Wilson’s quarterback rating sat at a pedestrian 79.4. Since then, he’s completed 118 of 178 passes (66 percent) for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions for a 111.3 quarterback rating. The Seahawks are 5-2 in those games.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has Wednesday’s injury report from both clubs, noting several Seahawks players who sat out practice.

O’Neil also previews Sunday’s matchup with the Niners in this short video, hinting that in a game matching the NFL’s top two scoring defenses, the club’s improved offenses under the Seahawks’ Wilson and 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick might be the ones that ultimately decide the outcome.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks run defense will be critical in Sunday’s game against the Niners, and catches up with linebacker Bobby Wagner on Sunday’s matchup, “Wagner, a rookie who played at Utah State, said he thinks he has an advantage because he played against Kaepernick, a second-year player from Nevada. The linebacker had one of his best games of the season at Carolina against perhaps the best running quarterback in the league, Cam Newton. Wagner had six tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a tackle for a loss. ‘I definitely feel like that helps because I’ve seen him a lot in college,’ Wagner said. ‘He’s not the same, obviously, (as) he was in college because he’s a lot more mature. He understands the game a little better. But at the end of the day, he’s going to do what he does. He runs, and he can sling the ball.’ ”

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is taking in the benefits of sticking with Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, “In his first start in place of Smith, Kaepernick threw two touchdowns and had a rating of 133.1 against the Chicago Bears. And when Smith was deemed healthy enough for a return, Harbaugh decided to stick with Kaepernick. In five starts, Kaepernick has completed 66 percent of his passes for a 101.4 rating, and also rushed for five touchdowns at 7.2 yards per carry. Not only have the 49ers won four of those five, but they also beat New England on Sunday to snap the Patriots’ 20-game home winning streak. ‘He came in playing pretty well right at the start,’ Harbaugh said when asked of Kaepernick’s improvement since he’s been a starter. ‘There’s been some improvement in all the situations that he’s experienced … in five starts he’s experienced a lot.’ ”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the youth movement at quarterback around the NFL, starting with Harbaugh and Carroll’s decisions to roll with Kaepernick and Wilson, “Both coaches chose to go young at quarterback, taking the riskier path, and both by all indications made the right choice. As Harbaugh put it, it was the best thing at that time. Not the best thing for the 49ers’ future; the best move now. When Wilson and Kaepernick face off for the first of what should be many, many meetings, they won’t be young quarterbacks developing along with a rebuilding teams, they will be key players on two of the best teams in the NFC. Welcome to the new normal in the NFL”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press eyes the Seahawks recent success as they push toward the playoffs, “If Seattle (9-5) can get a victory over the 49ers on Sunday or in the season finale against St. Louis, it would be its second playoff appearance in Carroll’s three seasons. Yet this one would be far more deserved. When the Seahawks won the NFC West in 2010, they became the first division champion with a losing record at 7-9. It took a victory over St. Louis in the finale that season for the Seahawks to win the division on a tiebreaker, but Seattle at least justified its spot in the playoffs by upsetting then-Super Bowl champion New Orleans in the wild-card round. But that playoff trips was at the infancy of Seattle’s roster remodel that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have been constructing. It was a mix of new faces and what the duo inherited that won the division in 2010. This group that’s pushing for a playoff spot has all been molded under the watch of Seattle’s decision-making duo. ‘I think we’re playing so much better in so many areas. We’re taking care of the ball the way we want to, and we’re getting after the football well now that we’re in the latter part of the season,’ Carroll said. ‘We’re running the football with consistency and we’re keeping the scores down defensively, and the kicking game is solid. These are all of the elements that make us team with not many holes right now.’ ”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recaps a conversation with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, who joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” yesterday, “Cowherd thinks the Seahawks are the NFL’s second-best team, and he had them ranked that high before they scored at least 50 points for the second consecutive week. A panel of five ESPN colleagues unanimously had the Seahawks at No. 7 in their latest power rankings. The Seahawks’ relative lack of success as a franchise hurts their credibility, Cowherd thinks. ‘If they were called the Steelers and they did as many things well as they did we’d love them. But they’re called the Seahawks, so nobody wants them to give them any credit. This team has been fantastic,’ he said.” … You can listen to Brock and Salk’s entire conversation with Cowherd here.

Brock Huard of 710Sports.com has his latest “Chalk Talk” breaking down the Seahawks’ use of the trick play toss from Wilson to running back Marshawn Lynch, who threw back to Wilson, who spiraled it 44 yards downfield to wide receiver Golden Tate in Week 15’s win over the Buffalo Bills.

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice session, “Wide receiver Sidney Rice, listed last week on the practice report with a bruised foot, sat out Wednesday with a knee injury. Running back Leon Washington was excused early due to an undisclosed illness.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com looks ahead to Sunday’s matchup with the Niners, “Getting by San Francisco is Carroll’s biggest challenge. After the last meeting, he admitted that he couldn’t get his defense adjusted in time to stop the 49ers offense from trap-blocking the Seahawks’ defense into futility. In essence, he was outcoached, and he said Wednesday that the 49ers continue to do things that are hard to comprehend. ‘They were really good last year, and continue to grow and do more things,’ Carroll said. ‘The offensive line does really complicated stuff. They do a ton of things — pulling and trapping, kick-outs, getting guys on the edge — and are very consistent with it. We wonder sometimes how they can get it all done. Obviously, it’s great coaching.’ Having played for Harbaugh at Stanford, [cornerback Richard] Sherman knows well the style. ‘He’s always been kinda crazy with their formations and shifts,’ he said. ‘They’ve been that way since I’ve known their offense — switch-on, switch-off, this tight end pulls here, this fullback goes there . . . all kind of crazy. I recognize a lot of stuff, but stopping it is another thing. You know what’s coming, but can you stop it?’ ”

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his notes from Wednesday’s session, “Head coach Pete Carroll said that with all the formations, shifts and varying personnel groups used by the 49ers, they are perhaps the most challenging team the Seahawks have had to prepare for all season. ‘Yeah, that’s kind of the topic for the day,’ Carroll said. ‘It’s a very challenging team and it’s the running element, but then there’s Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and then there’s the big fella Randy Moss out there running. This is a very talented football team and all of those guys’ present problems.’ ”

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com writes that the Seahawks and Niners see mirror images in each other, “…when it comes to styles and schemes — and styles make fights in football, just as they do in boxing — the teams built by these two coaches are as similar as any you’ll see in the NFL today. Both the 9-5 Seahawks and 10-3-1 49ers, who will tussle this Sunday night for control of the division, feature hallmarks that could be easily switched from franchise to franchise without too much trouble. Each team is currently sparked by a young quarterback making unexpected gains, each team is buttressed by a violent and consistent running game, and each team is truly defined by a defense that that stops opposing offenses from front to back. The two teams are tied for the NFL lead in scoring defense, allowing just 15.6 points per game each. ‘I think we are similar,’ Carroll said on Wednesday. ‘I can’t help but see that because they believe in playing big time defense as well as us, they believe in the running game, which we do, and they have a very strong emphasis on special teams, which we do. I think that’s really the three pillars of what we’re trying to put together here, that’s what I know we’re dealing with. I don’t know how they speak it or how they talk about it, but it’s certainly what’s obvious about their team and what you have to line up against. This a real matchup for us with a like approach as well.’ ”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com breaks down the play of Kaepernick and Wilson against the same four opponents, “It’s looking like these quarterbacks will be matching up in the division for years to come. Wilson has more NFL playing experience. Kaepernick has an additional full season in the league. A look at how they’ve fared as starters against the same teams seems like a pretty good way to compare them so far.”

Sando shares a conversation with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. as the pair breaks down Sunday’s matchup, “Sando: Matt, let’s start off with the quarterbacks. Both already rank among the league leaders in the meaningful categories. Russell Wilson leads the NFL and Colin Kaepernick ranks third in Total QBR since Week 11, when Kaepernick became a starter. Both are top eight for the season. Who has the better QB? Williamson: Seattle. I’m really high on both. I think both are going to be legitimate starters and stars. San Francisco is a year ahead of Seattle in just about every aspect, but I feel like the opposite is true at quarterback. Wilson looks like he has started more games and is mentally further along. Fewer bad throws. So consistent. Never turns the ball over. He is way ahead of the curve. I think he is the better player, but I like both very much.”

Sando also rehashes injury situations around the NFC West, with several notes on both the Niners and Seahawks.

The analysis team over at ProFootballFocus.com has released their selections for the 2012 Pro Bowl Roster, and running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman, and return specialist Leon Washington make their list.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Wilson and Kaepernick, and recaps the activities surrounding “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on the 49ers offense.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with a look at the similarities between the Seahawks and Niners.

We have coach Carroll’s full video press conference available for you here, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s full video press conference available here.

And lastly, we have photos from Wednesday’s practice by team photographer Rod Mar.


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Tuesday in Hawkville: Lane handling life in the fast lane

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 18:

Jeremy Lane

FOCUS ON

Jeremy Lane. It didn’t take the Bills long to see what the rookie cornerback had during Sunday’s game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

On their second play, and first pass play, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went to wide receiver T.J. Graham – and at the Seahawks’ sixth-round draft choice. But there was Lane, not only matching Graham stride for stride as they ran up the sideline, but having a better read on the ball than the intended receiver as the pass fell incomplete.

“He did a great job,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They went after him right off the bat and tried to get him and he played a great deep ball.”

Lane, who was making his first NFL start, could be needed again in Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Carroll is keeping his fingers crossed that Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant will be able to return from the hamstring injuries that have sidelined them – Thurmond for the game against the Bills, Trufant for the past three games.

But when the players begin practicing for the 49ers on Wednesday, it’s likely that Lane will be on the right side and Byron Maxwell will be the nickel back. The coaches also got a good look at Ron Parker, who was just re-signed last week, in the fourth quarter of the 50-17 rout of the Bills.

“All three guys did a good job,” Carroll said. “All of those snaps are just hugely valuable to us in bringing those guys along and getting a feel for them.”

Carroll also gave credit where credit is due – to secondary coach Kris Richard and passing game coordinator Rocky Seto, who were down to their third and fourth options with Lane stepping in for Thurmond, who had stepped in for Trufant, who were needed but unavailable because Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension.

“Kris Richard and Rocky Seto are doing a really good job coaching those guys,” Carroll said. “They’re playing with really good technique and again this week they stayed on top like they’re supposed to. They’re gaining confidence. We’re seeing reason to trust them more. And it’s really crucial for us that that’s happening right now.”

McGRATH ADDED TO 53-MAN ROSTER

Sean McGrath’s up-and-down season with the Seahawks spiked today when the practice-squad tight end was signed to the 53-man roster. He replaces tight end Evan Moore, who was released.

Moore was signed in September after tight end Kellen Winslow was released. But Moore caught only one pass for six yards.

McGrath, a rookie free agent from Henderson State, was signed in April after the NFL Draft. He was released on the roster cut to 53 players on Aug. 31, signed to the practice squad the next day and then released two days later. He returned to the practice squad on Sept. 8, was released again on Sept. 27 and then signed again on Oct. 2.

STATS ’N STUFF

Marshawn Lynch remains No. 2 in the league in rushing (1,379 yards). He’s the first Seahawks back to surpass 1,300 yards since Shaun Alexander led the league in rushing with 1,880 yards in 2005, and only the fourth back in franchise history it do it – joining Curt Warner, Chris Warren and Alexander. Lynch also is fourth in the league in total yards (1,542) and tied for seventh in first downs (69).

Leon Washington also remains second in the NFL in kickoff return average (30.0), while Jon Ryan is fifth in net punting average (41.6). Rookie QB Russell Wilson is eighth in passer rating (95.5).

With six interceptions, cornerback Richard Sherman is tied for fourth in the league, and defensive end Chris Clemons is tied for fifth with 11.5 sacks.

As a team, the Seahawks rank No. 3 in the league in overall defense, passing defense and rushing offense. They’re also sixth in turnover differential at plus-11.

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, even if they don’t beat the 49ers. According to the scenarios issued by the league, here’s how the Seahawks can get in:

Beat the 49ers.

Tie the 49ers and have the Giants lose and the Bears lose or tie; or the Giants lose and the Vikings lose or tie; or the Bears lose or tie and the Vikings lose or tie; or the Cowboys lose, Redskins win and Bears lose or tie; or the Cowboys lose, the Redskins lose and the Vikings lose or tie.

The Bears, Vikings and Redskins lose; the Bears and Vikings lose, the Cowboys lose or tie and the Redskins tie.

UP NEXT

The players return from having two “off” days to begin practicing for Sunday’s game on “Competition Wednesday.”

Just a reminder: Kickoff for Sunday’s game is 5:20 p.m., not 1:25 p.m., after it was flexed in the primetime spot.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Oh, I realize that the 49ers-New England matchup was supposed to be the most epic event in the history of the free world. But when you consider all the factors, beating Seattle is more paramount.” – San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy


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Week 15: Seahawks vs. Bills

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)

Marshawn Lynch

Matchup microscope

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.

Leodis McKelvin

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.

Russell Okung, Mario Williams, Breno Giacomini

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.

Worth noting

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.


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Tuesday in Hawkville: Young corners coming up big, and when needed

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 11:

Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane

FOCUS ON

Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The backup cornerbacks certainly have looked the part since joining the Seahawks in the draft the past two years.

Maxwell, a sixth-round pick in 2011, has the size (6 feet 1, 207 pounds), length and athletic ability that coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley covet in a corner. So does the 6-foot, 190-pound Lane, who was a sixth-round pick this year.

But how would they play the part? We finally got a look at both in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, as Lane took over as the nickel back and he and Maxwell then manned the corners for the conclusion of the 58-0 romp. Each made a tackle, while Maxwell also broke up a pass.

“I was really pleased with the play of those guys,” Carroll said. “I think I was as fired up about that as anything, as far as the challenge of new guys jumping in and all of that.”

And that definitely is saying a lot because there was so much to be fired up about on Sunday.

“Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell did really well,” Carroll said. “They both looked disciplined. They played confident. Technique-wise, they played the way we had hoped they would play. They both looked just about the same and, for their first outing, they really handled it well.

“There were very few plays that they didn’t get graded on the positive side.”

And that will remain a plus this week, when the Seahawks travel to Toronto to play the Bills. Walter Thurmond, who stepped in at nickel back for Marcus Trufant two weeks ago, is now at right corner because Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.

“Walter Thurmond played really well,” Carroll said of his efforts against the Cardinals.

That’s what put Lane on the field as the nickel back for Thurmond. Whether Trufant is able to return this week remains to be seen. But the coaches have seen enough from Lane, and Maxwell, and Thurmond, that they’re comfortable turning things over to the young corners.

“I think that’s a really good statement about what (defensive backs coach) Kris Richard and (passing game coordinator) Rocky Seto are doing with these guys,” Carroll said. “It really is good stuff.”

STATS ’N STUFF

The Seahawks rank No. 3 in total defense, allowing an average of 301.7 yards per game. They’re No. 4 in passing defense (196.3), No. 4 in rushing offense (152.3) and No. 10 in rushing defense (105.4). The offense ranks No. 21 overall (341.2) and the passing offense is No. 29 (188.9).

After Sunday’s eight-turnover avalanche against the Cardinals, the Seahawks are plus-8 in turnover differential, which ties for eighth in the league. Only seven teams have fewer giveaways than the Seahawks (17; nine interceptions, eight fumbles).

Marshawn Lynch remains second in the NFL in rushing (a career-high 1,266 yards) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (1,600). Only four players in the league have more than Lynch’s nine rushing touchdowns – the Texans’ Arian Foster (14), Bucs’ Doug Martin (10), Patriots’ Stevan Ridley (10) and Peterson (10). Lynch also is sixth in total yards (1,415) and tied for ninth in first downs (64).

Rookie QB Russell Wilson is seventh in the league in passer rating (94.9), and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III is the only rookie with a higher rating (a league-leading 104.2). Wilson also is sixth in fourth-quarter passer rating (97.9), which tops all rookies.

Leon Washington is second in the NFL in kickoff return average (31.2), while Jon Ryan is seventh in net punting average (41.7) and tied for sixth for punts inside the 20 (27).

Richard Sherman is tied for third in interceptions (six).

STAT DU JOUR

Lynch’s efforts against the Cardinals were impressive: three rushing touchdowns, tying his career high; a franchise-record 11.6-yard rushing average; his seventh 100-yard rushing effort of the season (124); and surpassing his single-season career best in rushing yards (1,266), with three games to play.

What put it even more over the top was that Lynch accomplished all this on 11 carries. Here’s a look at what he did to get his 128 yards, and when he did it:

Situation               Yards     Result

First-and-10             2          Seahawks punted on first possession

Second-and-12        1          Seahawks converted on third-and-11

Second-and-6        10          First down in first TD drive

First-ansd-10            2         Seahawks converted on second-and-8

First-and-10           15          Seahawks lost the yards on penalty

First-and-10           20          Touchdown run No. 1

First-and-goal          4          Touchdown run No. 2

First-and-10           15          Seahawks eventually punted

Second-and-5        18          First down at Seahawks’ 37

First-and-10             8          Came on next play after 18-yarder

Third-and-4            33         Touchdown No. 3

“I think the thing that comes to mind is consistency,” Carroll said Monday when asked about the season Lynch is having. “He’s been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style. Everything has been there every single game.”

UP NEXT

The players return from having two “off” days to begin practicing for Sunday’s game against the Bills.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The final score in Seattle got most of the attention. There was plenty of credit to go around in Seattle. (Anthony) McCoy’s first 100-yard receiving game could be a good sign for the Seahawks. McCoy made an important catch to help beat Chicago on the road last week. His 67-yard reception against the Cardinals set up Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run for a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. Arizona hadn’t scored more than 17 points in seven of its previous eight games.” – Mike Sando including the Seahawks’ tight end among his weekly “Risers” on his NFC West blog at ESPN.com


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Week 14: Seahawks vs. Cardinals

When: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field

Records: Seahawks 7-5 and second in NFC West after Sunday’s win over the Bears in Chicago; Cardinals 4-8 and last in NFC West after Sunday’s loss to the Jets in the Meadowlands

TV: Fox (KCPQ/13), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jaime Maggio

Radio: 710 ESPN and KIRO Radio 97.3, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller

Rest of the West: Rams (5-6-1) at Bills; Dolphins at 49ers (8-3-1)

Russell Wilson

Matchup microscope

The Cardinals’ No. 7-ranked defense vs. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: The Cardinals will quickly discover that this rookie QB isn’t the same rookie QB they faced in the season opener. Wilson not only has 11 more games on his resume, he has played progressively better and therefore the coaches have allowed him to do more. In last week’s overtime upset of the Bears in Chicago, Wilson didn’t beat them only with his arm (23 of 37, 293 yards, two TD passes); he also beat them with his legs (71 rushing yards). Then there’s the factor that is Russell Wilson playing at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are 5-0 and he has a passer rating of 122.0 and has completed 69 of 111 passes for 935 yards with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Cardinals will blitz him, because that’s what they do. So Wilson will need to show them what he can do.

Walter Thurmond, Larry Fitzgerald, Richard Sherman

One to watch

Seahawks CBs Walter Thurmond and Richard Sherman vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: To say the Cardinals’ offensive is struggling doesn’t even scratch the surface of the problems they’ve had during their eight-man losing streak. But covering Fitzgerald remains Priority One, regardless of who’s throwing him the ball. The 6-3 Sherman gives the Seahawks someone with the needed size to matchup against the 6-4 Fitzgerald. Thurmond steps in for Brandon Browner, who was suspended four games by the league on Wednesday. Thurmond hasn’t played much since fracturing his fibula in Week 7 last season, but he has the skills to be a starter and now gets his chance against a quality opponent.

Marshawn Lynch

Fun to watch

The Cardinals’ better-than-the-team’s-record-would-indicate defense vs. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch: All the hubbub being generated by Wilson, the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, is overshadowing the obvious – it’s Lynch’s relentless efforts running the ball that setup the play-action passing game and also makes the zone-read runs by Wilson so effective because the defense is so determined to stop Lynch. After ripping off a string of four consecutive 100-yard rushing performances, Lynch has had 46 and 87 the past two weeks – and he had only 85 in the season-opening loss to the Cardinals. What’s that ticking noise? It’s Lynch, ready to explode.

Chris Clemons, John Skelton

One tough task

Cardinals QB John Skelton vs. the situation: Skelton is back in as the starter – begrudgingly – because Kevin Kolb isn’t ready to return from his rib injury and rookie QB Ryan Lindley had a rock-bottom outing in last week’s 7-6 loss to the Jets. Skelton started the season opener against the Seahawks, but didn’t finish because of an ankle injury he got while being hit by Seahawks tackle Clinton McDonald. Now, he’s back in – in the noise factory that is CenturyLink Field, against a Seahawks’ pass rush that is determined to have a bigger impact after collecting only two sacks in the past two games and directing an offense that ranks last in the NFL.

Worth noting

The Cardinals have won the past two meetings – both in Arizona – and lead the series 15-12. But the Seahawks have won the past two games played in Seattle. … In 17 games against the Seahawks, Fitzgerald has 106 receptions for 1,434 yards – more than against any other team in each category – and 10 touchdowns. … Cardinals DE Calais Campbell had 2.5 sacks in last season’s game in Seattle and has five in his past three games against the Seahawks. … Seahawks punter Jon Ryan is fifth in the league in net average (41.9) and punts inside the 20 (25). … Lynch is second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,138) and fourth in total yards (1,287). … The Seahawks’ Leon Washington is third in the league in kickoff return average (31.9). … Opponents are 18 of 18 on field goals against the Seahawks. … Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 100 tackles, while linebacker Daryl Washington leads the Cardinals with 109.


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Thursday in Hawkville: Omiyale happy that he decided to sign with Seahawks

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 29:

FOCUS ON

Frank Omiyale

Frank Omiyale. The veteran offensive lineman played the past three seasons with the Bears, starting 31 games at left guard, left tackle and right tackle. With the injury problems the Bears are having on their line, there’s a pretty good chance he’d be starting this week against the Seahawks.

Except that Omiyale signed with the Seahawks in free agency in March.

“It’s not a big deal, but I’m excited to see some of the guys,” he said today of returning to Soldier Field as a member of the visiting team. “Other than that, we’re trying to win a game. So that’s what this week is all about.”

The Bears already have won eight games and lead the NFC North. But the line that will start against the Seahawks on Sunday vaguely resembles the unit that helped the Bears win seven of their first eight games.

Gabe Carimi, who had been benched for his play at right tackle, will start at right guard because Lance Louis was lost for the remainder of the season with a knee injury in last week’s game against the Vikings. Former Seahawks first-round draft choice Chris Spencer started at left guard against the Vikings for Chilo Rachal, but today Spencer was ruled out for Sunday because of a knee injury he got against the Vikings. So the line which lines up against the Seahawks could include – from left tackle to right – J’Marcus Webb, Edwin Williams, Roberto Garza, Carimi and Jonathan Scott.

“I ain’t got nothing to do with that,” Omiyale said with a laugh.

In the Seahawks’ 6-5 start, Omiyale has started one game at left tackle and played briefly at left and right tackle in two other games. But most of his action has come on special teams, and he had a key block on Leon Washington’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a fourth-quarter lead in last week’s loss to the Dolphins.

“It’s been good for me to come here,” he said. “I’ve definitely enjoyed my time here. It’s a great bunch of guys; hard workers. Great coaches. So, yeah, it’s been a good situation.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Jeremy Bates

Jeremy Bates. In 2010, he was the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator. This season, he is the Bears’ quarterbacks coach. In 2011, he was at his home in Colorado, watching and waiting.

“I just took a step back and watched the game from a fan’s point of view a little bit,” Bates told the Chicago Tribune this week. “There is so much knowledge to be gained. I don’t want to do that again. It was a frustrating year. But things happen and you just have to find the positives.”

That’s also what the Bears consider adding Bates to their staff was.

“He’s had a great impact,” coach Lovie Smith said of Bates, who had worked with QB Jay Cutler when both were with the Broncos. “Jay Cutler has played good football for us and, of course, Jeremy is tutoring him. He’s been a good addition.”

Brandon Marshall, the Bears’ leading receiver in his first season with the team, also was with Bates and Cutler in Denver.

“Jeremy is probably one of the most talented football heads on the offensive side of the ball in the NFL and I’m just so thrilled to be back with him,” Marshall said. “Not only is it good as a receiver to play with a quarterback that understands how you approach the game, but when you have a coach that also sees the game the same way as you and also understands how to coach you, how to challenge you, how to get you going when you’re not, it makes you that much better.

“He’s one of those coaches that is a friend. Not only a coach, but a friend at the end of the day that I would definitely say is the reason I am successful.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

LB Leroy Hill (ankle)

Full participation

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

DE Greg Scruggs (oblique)

Bryant and Hill were sidelined for the second consecutive day, so Jason Jones and Malcolm Smith replaced them with the No. 1 defense. But Lynch and Scruggs took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday.

For the Bears:

Out

WR/KR Devin Hester (concussion)

OG Chris Spencer (knee)

Did not practice

WR Alshon Jeffery (knee)

LB Brian Urlacher (coach decision; not injury related)

Limited participation

LB Lance Briggs (ankle)

RB Matt Forte (ankle)

TE Kellen Davis (ankle)

CB Charles Tillman (ankle)

Full participation

DT Stephan Paea (shoulder)

OG Edwin Williams (shoulder)

Hester and Spencer were ruled out for Sunday’s game today, each with injuries they got in against the Vikings last week.

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks just missed putting together a November to really remember with Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. A victory would have pushed their November record to 3-0, and marked only the fourth time in franchise history that they went unbeaten in the 11th month. Here’s a look at those previous Novembers to remember, and the close misses:

Year       Nov. record

1982           2-0

1984           4-0

2005           4-0

1978           3-1

1979           3-1

1995           3-1

2011           3-1

1997           2-1

2012           2-1

UP NEXT

“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before the team flies to Chicago for Sunday’s game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“If you just look at the turnover ratio and how important it is each game, you can see why we put so much of an emphasis on it. That’s just who we are. That’s the core. That’s our DNA. In the sense that you’re talking about defensive football, I just feel like it’s not a good defensive game unless we can take the ball away. We do practice it. We preach it. And guys are seeing the results of what it can do.” – Bears coach Lovie Smith on his team being plus-13 in turnover differential because they have a league-high 33 takeaways


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Wednesday in Hawkville: Sore-footed Bryant says he’ll ‘find a way to be out there’

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov 28:

FOCUS ON

Red Bryant

Red Bryant. As his teammates prepared for their next step by practicing in the rain today, the team’s run-stuffing defensive end watched with a boot on his sore right foot.

Bryant has plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot that has forced him to sit out a day of practice for the past month.

“His foot is really bothering him,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s had it for a long time, but it’s kind of flared up here in the last couple of weeks. It’s affected him some – enough that we’ve got to slow him down in practice.”

With Bryant watching, Jason Jones worked in his place with the No. 1 line.

Asked if he expected Bryant to play in Sunday’s game against the NFC North-leading Bears in Chicago, Carroll said, “I don’t know that yet. We’ve got to wait and see.”

The Seahawks need him because the Bears rank 10th in the league is rushing offense, averaging 121.9 yards a game. And the running game, led by Matt Forte, sets up the Bears’ play-action passing game. Also, in the Seahawks’ 38-14 victory in Chicago last season Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown and helped limit the Bears to 221 offensive yards.

“You know me,” Bryant said. “I’m going to find a way to be out there.”

OKUNG MAN OF THE YEAR

Russell Okung

Left tackle Russell Okung has been voted the Seahawks’ Man of the Year.

The honor goes annually to the player who represents stellar performance both on the field and in the community, and the list of past winners includes Jim Zorn, Dave Brown, Steve Largent, Jacob Green, Eugene Robinson (four times), Jon Kitna (twice), Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander and Marcus Trufant. Each player has a photo hanging in one of the hallways at VMAC.

“Truly an honor to be among these men and voted on as the 2012 Seahawks Man of the Year,” Okung said via Twitter. “Thank you to all that voted.”

A RARE HONOR FOR WASHINGTON

Players from losing teams usually don’t get selected for one of the weekly NFL honors, but Leon Washington is the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against the Dolphins on Sunday.

Washington’s scoring return was the eighth of his career, which tied the NFL record.

How did Washington find out about the honor? “I just found that out. My wife tweeted me that,” he said.

“You want to win the game, but that just shows how much hard work we put into this thing. Early in the season, it wasn’t looking pretty. But the guys just stuck with it and after that bye week we self-scouted what we need to do. So we got back to what we do and it worked out big for us.”

Washington also won the weekly honor after he returned two kickoffs for scores in a 2010 game against the Chargers. The only other return specialist in franchise history to be honored twice was Charlie Rogers (1999 and 2001).

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

LB Leroy Hill (ankle)

Limited in practice

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

DE Greg Scruggs (oblique)

Hill sat out to rest the ankle he sprained in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, but Carroll expects him to be able to play against the Bears. Malcolm Smith subbed for Hill with the No. 1 defense.

James Carpenter and John Moffitt each got reps at left guard with the No. 1 offensive line, and Carroll said he has yet to decide which player will start against the Bears.

For the Bears:

Did not practice

LB Lance Briggs (ankle)

TE Kellen Davis (ankle)

WR Devin Hester (concussion)

WR Alshon Jeffery (knee)

OG Chris Spencer (knee)

CB Charles Tillman (ankle)

Limited in practice

RB Matt Forte (ankle)

Full participation

DT Stephan Paea (shoulder)

OG Edwin Williams (shoulder)

STAT DU JOUR

In the past five games, a Seahawks defense that had been allowing an average of 70 rushing has yielded 775, or an average of 155. Of those 775 rushing yards, 607 have come against the 49ers (175), Vikings (243) and Dolphins (189). And 265 of those yards have come on nine runs – including a 74-yarder by the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson – for an average of 29.4 yards.

“The running game (defense) has not been as effective consistently,” Carroll said. “We’ve found our way into making fit errors on runs that there’s been a lot of big runs. The runs, one after another, we’re OK. But we’ve allowed explosive plays. … That’s enough to give them the yards that make it look like a big day.”

With that said, here’s a look at those “explosive” runs against the Seahawks:

Team                      Runs

Dolphins                22, 21 (Reggie Bush); 20 (Daniel Thomas); 19 (Ryan Tannehill)

Vikings                   74, 28, 24 (Adrian Peterson)

49ers                      37, 20 (Frank Gore)

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for Sunday’s game against the Bears.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I think that we’re very determined, and very disappointed in that outcome last week because we had a chance on both sides of the ball to win that football game. We’re disappointed that that didn’t get done. It was such a big opportunity for us. But we’ve spent time already – Monday and today – to get ready for today’s practice. I felt at the walkthrough that everybody was in it and we’re gone. We’re into the next plan. I think that’s what has to happen. So I feel we’ve responded well.” – Carroll when asked about the mood of the team after Sunday’s loss


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Washington honored

Leon Washington

Leon Washington, pictured right, is congratulated by safety Jeron Johnson after his 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown tied Josh Cribbs’ NFL-record of eight career kickoff returns for TDs.

Leon Washington’s record-tying eighth kickoff return for a touchdown in Sunday’s game against the Dolphins has earned the Seahawks’ return specialist NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, the League announced this morning.

Washington’s 98-yarder in Miami allowed him to tie the NFL career record that was set by the Browns’ Josh Cribbs.

We covered the record-tying return and Washington’s reaction in this story yesterday, which also includes the video of his return.

“I’m ecstatic,” Washington said. “But I’m humble at the same time, because we can want nine, 10, 11 and 12.”


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Wednesday cyber surfing: Leon Washington named NFC Special Teams Player of Week 12

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, November 28.

Randall Liu, the NFL’s Director of NFC Communications, announced on Twitter this morning that Seahawks return-specialist Leon Washington has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his Week 12 effort against the Miami Dolphins. Washington had a 98-yard kick-return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that tied Josh Cribbs’ NFL-record of eight career kick returns for touchdowns.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks defense needs to stand up on the road, “Statistically, Seattle still has one of the top defenses in the league. The Seahawks are No. 3 in points allowed per game (16.8), No. 5 in the league in total defense (309.4 yards per game) and No. 12 in rushing defense (108.6 yards per game). However, when the game is on the line, Seattle’s playmakers on defense — including safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin — have been unable to create game-changing plays to help Seattle solve its road woes. At 6-5 overall, and with two road games left on the schedule, including at Chicago on Sunday, the Seahawks might need to win at least one of those, along with sweeping three home games, in order to make the playoffs.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has a closer look at quarterback Russell Wilson’s Week 12 performance against the Dolphins, “At one point he completed 16 consecutive passes, setting an NFL rookie record while falling one shy of Warren Moon’s franchise record. The incompletion that broke that streak was a well-placed, over-the-shoulder throw that Doug Baldwin could have caught. Wilson made plays with his legs, too. He finished with a season-high 38 yards on five carries, including one that went for 20 yards. One one play, he spun to avoid pressure then rolled to his left and delivered an accurate, across-the-body throw to Sidney Rice for a 26-yard gain. On his first touchdown pass, he avoided two pass-rushers before escaping the pocket and finding Anthony McCoy in the corner of the end zone. He did it all despite a running game that uncharacteristically struggled. ‘He did a great job yesterday to give us a chance to be in that football game, not just the consecutive balls that he completed but just the way he created and made things available to us,’ Carroll said.”

Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” discuss the Seahawks’ offensive identity and play-calling in this short video.

Huard also has his latest “Chalk Talk” as he breaks down Miami running back Daniel Thomas’ touchdown run that occurred one play after a roughing the passer call near the end zone on Seahawks safety Earl Thomas last weekend.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his first look at the Chicago Bears, remembers what the Seahawks have done in each of the last two seasons in Chicago in his “Tuesday in Hawkville“, and catches up with Washington after his record-setting kick return for a touchdown, “Washington isn’t just a kickoff returner. He also returns punts. He also plays running back. And when Leon Washington the kickoff returner gets the ball in his hands, he becomes Leon Washington the running back – because it all starts with vision, regardless of why you might have the ball in your hands. ‘Exactly,’ Washington said. ‘And that’s why I take pride in taking my reps during the running back periods in practice. It’s just like a running play. I’ve got my linemen in front of me, Lem and Frank. I’ve got Mike Rob (Robinson) back there, just like my fullback. So it’s like a running play – hit the hole, and don’t hesitate.’ One of Washington’s biggest smiles came when asked about making the kicker miss. ‘It’s like getting chase by that dog in the neighborhood that you never liked,’ he said. ‘You can’t let him catch you.’ Now that he has caught Cribbs, Washington has his sights set on No. 9. And beyond. ‘It just says a lot, after what I’ve been through in my career, after the things I’ve bounced back from,” he said of No. 8. “So I’m ecstatic. But I’m humble at the same time, because we can want nine, 10, 11 and 12.’ ”

Lastly, the Seahawks made a roster move yesterday, releasing quarterback Josh Portis from the practice squad and signing wide receiver Phil Bates in his place.


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Tuesday in Hawkville: Seeking a similar path to another road win in Chicago

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 27:

FOCUS ON

Red Bryant

Defensive end Red Bryant snags an interception and rumbles 20 yards into the end zone in a 38-14 victory over the Bears in Chicago last season.

Da Bears. In not quite 2¾ seasons under coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 6-16 on the road. During this same span, the Chicago Bears are 16-7 at home. But two of the Seahawks’ road wins have come at Soldier Field – 38-14 in Week 15 last year and 23-20 in Week 6 in 2010.

Has there been a common thread in the Seahawks claiming a third of their wins on the road at one location?

“I hope so. I hope so,” Carroll said with a laugh. “We do know the setting. … We’ve found some success. We know how to travel there. We know what it takes and all that. We’ll try to bank of that the best we can and make the most of it.”

That’s exactly what the Seahawks did during their wins in the Windy City the past two seasons.

Last year, the Bears played without the injured duo of quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte. Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown combined to complete 11 of 23 passes for 123 yards, but the Bears rushed for 132 yards and a 4.3-yard average with Kahlil Bell (15 for 65) and Hanie (5 for 34) picking up the slack for Forte.

The Bears defense held Marshawn Lynch to 42 yards on 20 carries, but the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back managed to get into the end zone twice. The defense also scored twice, as end Red Bryant (20 yards) and cornerback Brandon Browner (43) returned interceptions for touchdowns.

In 2010, Cutler and Forte played, but Cutler was tackled in the end zone for a safety and Forte was held to 11 yards on eight carries. Lynch, in his first game with the Seahawks after being obtained in a bye-week trade with the Bills, scored a TD. So did two players who no longer are with the team – running back Justin Forsett and wide receiver Deon Butler. Two other since-departed players also made big contributions, as Mike Williams caught 10 passes for 123 yards and Matt Hasselbeck was 25 of 40 for 242 yards.

This week, the Seahawks need a repeat performance from their current players to register another upset and atone for Sunday’s fall-from-ahead loss to the Dolphins in Miami, which dropped their road record to 1-5.

BATES BACK, PORTIS RELEASED

Wide receiver Phil Bates has been re-signed to the practice squad. Bates, a rookie free agent, was with the team during training camp but released on the roster cut to 75 players. He was signed to the practice squad on Oct. 31 and then released on Nov. 14.

To clear a spot, quarterback Josh Portis was released. Portis was on the 53-man roster last season. This year, he was released on the roster cut to 53 players and signed to the practice squad the next day.

STATS ’N STUFF

Lynch has slipped to third in the league in rushing (1,051 yards) after being held to 46 yards by the Dolphins. The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson still leads the NFL (1,236), while the Texans’ Arian Foster (1,064) leapfrogged Lynch. Peterson ran for 108 yards against the Bears on Sunday.

Lynch also is fifth in the league in total yards (1,189).

Jon Ryan is ninth in the league in punting average (47.7), but fifth in net average (42.1). He also tied a club record against the Dolphins by having six punts downed inside the 20-yard line. That gives him 22 for the season, which ranks fifth in the league.

With his 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Dolphins, Leon Washington increased his average to 31.9 yards, which ranks third in the league.

Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner continued to lead the team in tackles with 90.

As a team, the Seahawks rank fifth in the league in total defense (12th against the run, third against the pass) and 27th in total offense (eighth rushing, 31st passing).

STAT DU JOUR

How efficient and effective has rookie QB Russell Wilson been over the past seven games? Only two quarterbacks in the league have a better QBR, the rating system used at ESPN.com, and their names are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Here’s a look at the Top 10 since Week 5:

Player, team                             QBR

Tom Brady, Patriots                 84.7

Peyton Manning, Broncos      81.0

Russell Wilson, Seahawks       79.1

Drew Brees, Saints                   76.9

Josh Freeman, Bucs                 74.9

Robert Griffin III, Redskins     74.7

Matt Ryan, Falcons                  73.2

Aaron Rodgers, Packers          72.7

Andrew Luck, Colts                  72.3

Eli Manning, Giants                 71.3

UP NEXT

The players return from their “off” day to begin practicing for Sunday’s game on “Competition Wednesday.” Because the game is in Chicago, the team will leave on Friday for the second consecutive week and hold its Saturday walkthrough at a local high school.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Knee-jerk reaction: ‘Good teams don’t go 1-5 on the road. The Seahawks are a fraud. They’ll never make a dent in the playoffs as a wild-card team at this rate.’ Reality or not? ‘What did you expect, a 12-4 season? Seattle is building around one of the most impressive rookie QBs in the NFL. Simply reaching the playoffs should be enough.” – NFC West blogger Mike Sando in the weekly “Knee-jerk reaction” feature at ESPN.com


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