Seahawks.com hands out its honors from the team’s 11-5 regular season and split of two games in the postseason:
MVP: Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. How can pick one over the other? How can you pick one or the other? We couldn’t, so the Beast Mode running back and steady-as-he-throws rookie QB share the honor, just as they shared the workload. There’s an entire story’s worth of thought process that went into this decision.
Best offensive player: Max Unger. It could go to Lynch or Wilson, obviously. But this is a share-the-credit selection, since both Lynch and Wilson were always quick to credit the line for its part their accomplishments. Unger, in his second season as the starting center, anchored that line and was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. “He’s right all the time,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “I think to do this the consistency thing comes into play here. You’ve got to do it running the ball and protecting your quarterback down after down, and Max has done that.”
Best defensive player: Richard Sherman. Only strong safety Kam Chancellor (.975) and free safety Earl Thomas (.958) played a higher percentage of snaps than Sherman (.948), but no one made more plays than the second-year cornerback. He led the team, and tied for second in the NFL, with eight interceptions. He also had 24 passes defensed, almost three times as many as Thomas (nine), who finished second on the team. Somehow snubbed when it came to voting for the Pro Bowl, Sherman was selected to the All-Pro team. If enough people were paying attention, he also should get some consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year – an award that is expected to be a slam-dunk for the Texans’ J.J. Watt. And Sherman saved one of his best efforts for the biggest stage – Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons. “I thought he had a fantastic football game,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They went after him. They challenged him. And I thought he was incredible.”
Best special teams player: Heath Farwell. Again, this was not an easy choice. And asking special teams coordinator Brian Schneider for help didn’t help at all, because so many of his players made special contributions. From Jon Ryan, who broke his own club record for net average (40.8) and was among the league leaders with 30 punts downed inside the 20; to kicker Steven Hauschka, who was 23 of 23 from inside the 50; to Leon Washington, who was voted to the Pro Bowl and returned the eighth kickoff of his career for a TD to tie the NFL record; to Michael Robinson, who was second to Farwell in coverage tackles (10); to Malcolm Smith, who scored off a muffed punt return and blocked a punt that was returned for a score. But for Schneider, it was all about the consistency with his units and no one was more consistent than Farwell, who had 15 coverage tackles to go with the league-high 21 he produced last season.
Offensive rookie of the year: Wilson, for all the obvious reasons and even more that weren’t that obvious.
Defensive rookie of the year: Bobby Wagner. While first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin led all NFL rookies with eight sacks, Wagner led the team, and finished second among all rookies in the league, with 140 tackles during the regular season and 17 during the postseason. The second-round draft choice also produced four interceptions and two sacks from his middle linebacker spot. The best part of everything that Wagner did? His attitude. “I’m the middle linebacker,” he said. “I’m supposed to make a lot of tackles.”
Free-agent addition of the year: Zach Miller. Yes, he was signed in free agency the previous year. But his contributions this season came much closer to displaying just how versatile – and good – a tight end Miller is. He’s a rock-solid blocker and also finished third on the team with 38receptions and tied for second with three TD catches. But it was Miller’s over-the-top efforts against the Falcons that forced the turn-back-the-clock tweak in this category: eight catches for 142 yards. All after he tore the plantar fascia in his left foot on the Seahawks’ first possession. “Zach had a terrific season for us,” Carroll said. “But in this game, when he had the opportunities, boy, he cashed in on all of them.”
Chris Gray Award: Paul McQuistan. Who better to win this than this generation’s Chris Gray? Gray was a warrior of a lineman who started a club-record 121 consecutive games from 1999-2006, after being signed to fill a backup role. That’s the same path McQuistan has followed. Signed to a future contract in January of 2011, he started a career-high 10 games last season and 16 this season – nine at right guard and seven at left guard, where he also started both postseason games. “He’s kind of our glue, that’s the way I look at him,” Cable said. “Paul has been so valuable. He has played multiple positions the last two years. He never misses a beat. It’s just that his wisdom and experience are so valuable for those young guys in there. So he truly has been the glue in that room, without a doubt.”
Best trend: Going 8-0 at home. This season’s team did it, joining the 2003 and 2005 teams as the only ones in franchise history to do it. Along the way, the Seahawks dispatched the Packers and Patriots, who went on to win their divisions, as well as the playoff-bound Vikings. They also avenged road losses to each of their NFC West rivals – beating the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals by a combined 94 points in the final month of the regular season after losing to them by a combined 17 points in the first seven weeks of the season. Think how different things might have turned out if the Seahawks had been able to play at CenturyLink Field in the postseason. Carroll has. “That’s why you own your division, so you can be positioned to play at home,” he said. “That’s what’s at hand, that’s the goal of this program – it’s to win the division so that you can start the playoffs where you want to, and try to keep it there.”
Worst trend: The inability to hold fourth-quarter leads. As well as the defense played – and that was ranked-No. 4-in-the NFL well – it allowed the Lions, Dolphins and finally Falcons to drive to game-winning scores after the Seahawks taken fourth-quarter leads. The Bears tied the score at the end of regulation, but the offense won that game in overtime. Win a couple of those other games and the Seahawks would have captured the division and opened the postseason at home. “That’s an issue, just finishing it off on that last drive,” Carroll said. “There are four games sitting right there. That’s a big-time season. But I’m not worried about figuring that out. It’s just a snap here or there. But it happened this year and you can’t ignore that.”
Best quote: This one is actually a remark incumbent starter, and since traded, Tarvaris Jackson made last spring – way before the fact, and way before Wilson became the talk of the NFL: “Russell, he’s not like a regular rookie.”
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 14 – one day after the Seahawks’ 30-28 divisional-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday’s game, “Twenty-five seconds. That’s how long Seattle’s defense — which allowed the fewest points in the league during the regular season — needed to hold on. Turned out 12 seconds was all the Falcons needed to complete two passes and put kicker Matt Bryant in position for the game-winning field goal that turned Seattle’s incredible comeback into ash. ‘We’re a real resilient young team,’ defensive tackle Red Bryant said. ‘We had our opportunities. Atlanta made some great plays, and was able to get the game-winning field goal.’ “
O’Neil highlights the play of Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “Russell Wilson completed his first 10 passes in the second half, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another. He threw for 385 yards, not only the most for a Seahawk in a playoff game but the most ever for an NFL rookie in the postseason. ‘He is an amazing football player,’ coach Pete Carroll said afterward. ‘He proved himself again and again. It is undeniable that you look at anything he did and put a star on it.’ ‘
O’Neil has his “2-minute drill“, naming Wilson, Seahawks tight end Zach Miller and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez his players of the game, “Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 385 yards, not only a career high and franchise playoff record, but also the most ever for a rookie quarterback in a playoff game. Seahawks tight end Zach Miller had not had more than 59 yards receiving in a game since joining Seattle. He had a career-high 142 yards against Atlanta despite playing with a torn plantar fascia suffered on the third play of the game. It was the second-most receiving yards by a Seahawk in a playoff game behind Darrell Jackson’s 143 in 2005.”
O’Neil and Larry Stone of the Seattle Times share their game notebook, “He [Zach Miller] suffered a torn plantar fascia on the third play, and was taken to the locker room where he had a painkilling shot. Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards, both game-highs. It was nothing short of remarkable, not just because of his injury, but because he had never had more than 59 yards in any game as a Seahawk. That receiving total was a career-high for Miller, who played four seasons with the Raiders before signing with Seattle last year. ‘It was nice to get some balls like that,’ Miller said. ‘But I’m disappointed that we didn’t win when we were so close. If there is any solace, I don’t feel it right now.’ Miller’s receiving total was one yard off Darrell Jackson’s franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game.”
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says while this playoff loss hurts, the future for the club is bright, “Eventually the pain will subside and this young team will begin to remember all of the good from this season. And, as they gather for offseason workouts and begin the long preparations for next September, they will look back on this 11-win year and tell themselves this was just the start of something big. ‘Next year will be my ninth,’ Hill said, about a half-hour after Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal, ‘and it’s been a fun ride. You don’t get many teams as good as this. And it’s only the beginning, man. A lot of young guys, a lot of pieces in place around here. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to shake.’ Look around this locker-room-in-mourning and all you see are possibilities. ‘We felt like this was our year,’ fullback Michael Robinson said, ‘and we’ll feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we won’t lack for confidence and we’re going to come to fight you. We need to bring as many of these players back as possible and keep our core group together.’ “
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has his take on yesterday’s Seahawks loss, “Here’s the thing about the Seahawks, though: Despite their blunders, despite a run defense that allowed 167 rushing yards to a poor running team, despite trailing 27-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, they refused to break. And they nearly pulled off their greatest comeback victory ever. Wilson led them, throwing for 385 yards (an NFL postseason record for a rookie quarterback) and two touchdowns. Tight end Zach Miller, who had eight receptions for 142 yards, caught a touchdown pass during the rally. Lynch, who was held to 46 rushing yards, still did his part, plunging into the end zone from two yards out as the Seahawks took a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. Their fight was remarkable.”
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at Wilson’s performance, “Wilson engineered what should have been the biggest comeback in playoff history in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, giving the Hawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play in the game. As he has been in this record-setting season, Wilson again was a clear-eyed, cold-blooded quarterbacking machine, who passed for 385 yards, and ran for 60 more. And if the guy is to be downgraded for anything it’s only that he’s a bit of a procrastinator. That, and the fact that he hasn’t figured out a way to get on the field with the defense on the final drive. The Seahawks have seen the improbable out of Wilson for so long, they’ve exhausted their amazement, so the Falcons were kind enough to supply some. ‘He’s got the ‘it’ factor, man,’ said Atlanta safety William Moore. ‘You can’t control a guy like that. That dude is going to be a big problem for defenses in the league. He can do it all — he can run, he can throw, and he has the moxie you like to see in good quarterbacks. He was truly a game-changer.’ “
Boling also comments on the play of Miller, “Miller has been one of the ultimate “team” players, having sacrificed the attention of catching passes last season while the Seahawks needed him to stay on the line to help with shaky protection last season. But his efforts have been highly visible this season. ‘He had a fantastic football game,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He got hurt early in the game and he stuck in there an finished it. The guy was all over the place. He did well catching the ball and making plays. It was his day today and Russell found him all day long.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game recap, “Matt Bryant’s late-game theatrics overshadowed another masterful performance by Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who rallied his team just like he’s done all season. The Seahawks fell behind for a second straight week, this time trailing 20-0 at halftime — the team’s largest deficit of the season. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said there was no panic from his players at halftime. ‘I can’t imagine that anybody expected that we were going to have a chance to get back into that game, except for the guys in that locker room,’ he said. ‘And they knew we were going to have a chance to get back into that game. They felt it the whole time.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his thoughts on yesterday’s divisional playoff, “What went down in the fourth quarter was nothing short of an amazing comeback. Wilson was spectacular, passing for a Seahawks playoff record 385 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 60 yards and another score. But that emotional roller coaster just wasn’t necessary. If the Seahawks didn’t have two empty trips to the red zone in the first half, if Marshawn Lynch hadn’t fumbled, if the defense hadn’t put on one of its worst displays of tackling of the season, the Seahawks could have been in a position to win comfortably. ‘We just didn’t play well in the first half,’ Seattle tight end Zach Miller told reporters. ‘We had some drives but we didn’t get points out of them. Obviously that came back to haunt us. I thought that we played really well in the second half and put us in a position to win, but it didn’t happen.’ “
Boyle also breaks down Sunday’s game by the numbers, “4—Losses on the road this season in which Seattle’s defense gave up a fourth-quarter lead late in the game (at Arizona, at Detroit, at Miami and Sunday in Atlanta). 2—Empty trips into the red zone for the Seahawks in the first half, points they desperately could have used by the end of the game. 0—Punts by the Falcons in the first three quarters, though Matt Ryan was intercepted twice before the Seahawks forced a punt. 0—Sacks by the Seahawks, who clearly missed defensive end Chris Clemons. A blitz by Marcus Trufant produced the only hit on Matt Ryan all afternoon.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says the Seahawks missed defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend against the Washington Redskins, “Matt Ryan, with seemingly endless amounts of time in the pocket, finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those picks came when the Seahawks brought defensive backs Marcus Trufant and Winston Guy off the left edge. That was one way Seattle tried to manufacture a pass rush in the absence of pressure from its defensive line. ‘We felt like we had to to get pressure,’ Carroll said of the more blitz-heavy approach. ‘Even all the way down to the end.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has reaction from Wilson, “The whipsaw brought a devastating end to a brilliant season that was within reach of the Super Bowl. Wilson had a splendid second half, finishing with a club-playoff-record 385 yards, two passing TDs and one on the ground. Yet after the win, he was almost as remarkable with his response to defeat. Instead of moping, Wilson simply refused to give in, demonstrating why the team has fallen for a rookie they all came to cherish. ‘When the game was over, I was very disappointed, but when I got to the tunnel, walking off, I got so excited for the opportunity next year,’ he said. What? The kid just had a metaphorical arrow shot through his heart, and he already pulled it out. ‘I told (QB position coach Carl Smith) afterward, ‘I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to the off-season and work and work and work . . . to get to the next season and play.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his reaction following Sunday’s Seahawks-Falcons matchup, “What it means: The Seahawks lost a heartbreaker after their fourth-quarter pass defense faltered once again, a recurring theme for Seattle. The Seahawks had taken a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds remaining. But they couldn’t stop the Falcons from moving quickly into position for the winning field goal with eight seconds left. The team will have to address that aspect of its performance in the offseason.”
Sando has a chart showing the 2013 NFL Draft order, and after yesterday’s loss to the Falcons it can be deciphered that the Seahawks will hold the No. 25 overall pick.
Sando also says Wilson is the least of the team’s worries, “Wilson totaled 435 yards passing in three Seattle defeats through Week 7. He had rookie postseason record 385 in a single season-ending defeat Sunday, playing well enough to give his team its only lead with 31 seconds remaining. Yardage isn’t always a reliable measure of quarterback performance, but the contrast was irresistible and wholly reflective in this case. Wilson went from having little positive impact during early season defeats to giving Seattle its best chance to win. Some of that had to do with the coaching staff trusting Wilson with more of the playbook.”
And Peter King of SI.com has his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, pinning the Seahawks as the League’s 5th-best team, “5. Seattle (12-6). Welcome to the playoffs, Mr. Wilson. See you back soon, and often. The game is better with you in it.”
STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – The Seahawks have landed four players on the All-Pro team that is selected by the Associated Press, it was announced this morning.
There were two on offense – running back Marshawn Lynch and center Max Unger; and two on defense – cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas. This is the first time any of them have been selected All-Pro, but Lynch, Unger and Thomas were voted to the Pro Bowl last month.
Sherman received 39 of a possible 50 votes, while Thomas got 28, Lynch 24 and Unger 16.
The Seahawks are in Georgia for tomorrow’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta.
The four-player contingent matches the largest in franchise history. In 2005, the season the Seahawks made their Super Bowl run, running back and league MVP Shaun Alexander, left guard Steve Hutchinson, left tackle Walter Jones and fullback Mack Strong made the All-Pro team. The 1984 team had three players selected – kicker Norm Johnson, nose tackle Joe Nash and strong safety Kenny Easley, with wide receiver Steve Largent and cornerback Dave Brown getting second-team honors.
“That is taking individuals and saying they are the best in the NFL at that position and that’s what I wanted to be,” Sherman said. “The Pro Bowl is taking three from each side, it’s more of a popularity contest. The All-Pro, you’re the best at your position. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fifth-rounder or fourth-rounder or undrafted. If you play the best, you’re All-Pro.”
Unger took the opposite view, saying that the Pro Bowl means more because the squad is selected by other players and coaches in the league – as opposed to the media members who vote on the All-Pro team.
“To have other players say you’re the best at your position, that really means something,” Unger said, and then added with a smile, “But being named All-Pro is pretty cool, too.”
Unger, Thomas and Sherman are the first players in franchise history at their positions to be named first team All-Pro. Lynch joins Alexander as the only running back to be named first-team All-Pro, and Alexander also made the second team in 2004. Curt Warner was a second-team selection three times (1983, 1986 and 1987), while Chris Warren got second-team status twice (1994 and 1995).
Jones holds the franchise record with four first-team selections (2001, 2004-05 and 2007), and he was a second-team pick in 2008. Defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and Easley were named to the first team three times – 1992-94 for Kennedy, who also was a second-team selection 1996; 1983-85 for Easley. Largent made the second team four times (1978-79, 1984 and 1987).
You can find the entire All-Pro team here.
Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Rams; Wild Card date with Redskins set
Good morning, and happy New Year’s Eve. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 31.
After securing a 20-13 victory over the Rams yesterday, the Seahawks finished the regular season with a record of 11-5, including a perfect 8-0 at home. As the playoff’s No. 5 seed they will face the No. 4 seed Washington Redskins (10-6), who won the NFC East title last night for the first time since 1999, in a road matchup on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. PT. The game is set to be televised on FOX.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times recaps the Seahawks’ 20-13 Week 17 win over the Rams, “After three straight blowout wins, the Seahawks found a different path to victory against the Rams. This was a grinder game. Nothing came easily. It was the kind of game the Hawks can expect when they travel to Washington for the first playoff game Sunday. It was the perfect preparatory test heading into the playoffs, a game that felt as gritty as January.”
Danny O’Neil has his game story from yesterday, “In the shadow of their goal line, the Seahawks didn’t have a shadow of a doubt. ‘No one’s scared,’ center Max Unger said. ‘No one’s worried about, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to go 90 yards.’ We’ve shown that we’re able to do that.’ And they did just that. Again. A 90-yard touchdown drive fittingly capped off by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s 1-yard scramble was the difference in Seattle’s 20-13 victory Sunday over St. Louis at CenturyLink Field.”
O’Neil has a short preview of Sunday’s matchup with the Redskins, “It’s a showdown in a class of rookie quarterbacks that has already inspired comparisons to the best quarterback crops in NFL history. Washington’s Robert Griffin III finished the season with a passer rating of 102.4, highest ever for an NFL rookie. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was No. 2 at 100.0.”
O’Neil has his “Two-Minute Drill“, where he names running back Marshawn Lynch his player of the game, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed 18 times for 100 yards, his fourth consecutive game with a triple-digit rushing total. He ran for 1,590 yards in 16 games this season, the third-highest total in franchise history.”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has his game notebook from yesterday’s 20-13 Seahawks win, “Yet another 100-yard game for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch capped one of the best rushing seasons in team history. Lynch finished with a career-high 1,590 yards in 2012, behind only Shaun Alexander’s 1,880 in 2005 and 1,696 in 2004. Lynch had 100 yards or more in eight of Seattle’s last 10 games and a career-high 10 times overall, matching Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson for the NFL high this season. ‘This year has just been great for him,’ Robinson said of Lynch. ‘People don’t want to tackle the guy this late in the season.’ “
Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says wide receiver Golden Tate made the biggest play of the game in Sunday’s win over the Rams, “Tate’s game-changing play was neither a catch nor a run. It was simply diving on a loose ball that he saw bouncing on the turf of CenturyLink Field away from his teammate’s grasp. The heads up play of securing the ball and retaining possession secured a 20-13 win over the St. Louis Rams and retained some semblance of momentum for the Seahawks as they head into the playoffs next week. ‘My favorite play of the day was Golden coming up with that fumble right there,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says this Seahawks team is primed for a playoff run, “…despite an 11-5 record and a fifth-straight victory, will be a Wild Card team and will have to play on the road against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. This time, crazy didn’t happen for the Seahawks. San Francisco took care of business, so any playoff success Seattle is going to have will have to take place on the road. Here’s the thing though; the Seahawks just might be good enough for that not to matter. Sure the Seahawks would have loved another game or two at CenturyLink Field, where they went 8-0 for the third time in franchise history, but after winning seven of their last eight, after showing they can pull off thrilling comebacks on the road, blow teams out when they get a chance, or grind out a tough win when the game calls for that, the Seahawks look like a team capable of making a playoff run no matter where the road takes them.”
Boyle has a look at Wilson’s day, “…Wilson didn’t break Manning’s record, he merely tied it while attempting 182 fewer passes than Manning did in 1998, and while throwing 18 fewer interceptions. And most telling of Wilson’s rookie season, he ended the year with another clutch, fourth-quarter drive. Seattle’s go-ahead drive, which featured a vintage Wilson play in which he avoided the pass rush, scrambled and hit Golden Tate for a 44-yard gain, was the fourth Wilson has led this season to give Seattle the lead in the fourth quarter of a win this season. After taking a beating early in the game, Wilson started to find way to avoid sacks and make plays. Wilson again frustrated pass rushers, he again made plays with his arms and legs, and he again took care of the football.”
Boyle rehashes cornerback Richard Sherman’s game-clinching interception in Week 17, “Sherman didn’t find many ways to stand out against the Rams for most of Sunday afternoon. That wasn’t because Sherman was playing poorly, but rather because Rams quarterback Sam Bradford wisely spent the better part of four quarters avoiding throw the ball in Sherman’s general vicinity. But with the game on the line, facing fourth-and-ballgame, Bradford couldn’t afford to be careful and he tried to force a pass to Austin Pettis, and as he has done so many times this season, Sherman made Bradford pay. ‘I was hunting,’ Sherman said. ‘I was waiting on the opportunity all day. I’ve been patient, I’ve been playing tight coverage and I didn’t get many opportunities, so when I get an opportunity to overlap, I overlapped and got my hands on it.’ “
Boyle also details Week 17 by the numbers, “30—Total touchdowns for Wilson, whose fourth rushing touchdown of the season put Seattle ahead in the fourth quarter. Wilson joins Cam Newton as the only rookie quarterbacks to account for 30 total touchdowns. Last season Newton threw 21 touchdowns and rushed for 14 more.”
Rich Myhre of the Everett Herald has his game story from Week 17, “In terms of momentum, few of the NFL’s 12 playoff teams can match the Seahawks, who step into the postseason having won five in a row and seven of their past eight games. ‘That’s exactly how we would like to finish, regardless of what happened in the first half (of the season),’ said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. ‘Get all those wins … and feel good. Be rolling at this part of the season and the playoffs. That’s a real good feeling.’ Facing an upcoming trip to Washington, Carroll added, ‘our guys are strong and they’re ready to go.’ “
Myhre highlights the play of running back Marshawn Lynch, “Like the rest of the Seahawks, Lynch started slowly this season. He went over 100 yards just twice in the first six games, but then topped that mark eight times in the team’s final 10 games. His total of 10 100-yard games is one shy of Alexander’s team record set in 2005. Alexander has the top two single-season rushing totals in Seahawks history with 1,880 yards in 2005 and 1,696 yards in 2004. The only other Seattle running back to go over 1,500 yards is Chris Warren with 1,545 in 1994. ‘That kid is unbelievable,’ Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said of Lynch. ‘It just seems like he gets stronger as the game goes on, and that’s unusual in this league.’ “
Tim Booth of the Associated Press recaps the Seahawks Week 17 win over the Rams and looks ahead to next week, “The Seahawks closed out the season as the only undefeated team at home. But to get another home game this season, the Seahawks would need to pull off two road victories and have the No. 6 seed in the NFC – Minnesota – reach the championship game. Unlikely? Yes. But with how much has gone Seattle’s way the latter half of the season, anything is conceivable. They’ve won seven of eight, including a five-game winning streak to close the year. They won at least 11 games for just the third time in franchise history. ‘Let’s see if we can make that nine (straight),’ Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said.”
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com likes that the Seahawks won a close game before facing the Redskins in the playoffs next week, “The Seahawks got a nice wake-up call from a rapidly improving Rams squad that should be taken seriously under Jeff Fisher. Though they may have totaled 150 points in the previous three games, that number belies the truth of what really happened in those games. Remember, 28 of those 150 points were scored by the defense or special teams, and 44 more points were set up by great starting field position (forced again by turnovers and great special teams). None of those facts should take anything away from what the offense accomplished – far from it. The team concept led to those points and the offense deserves immense credit for its efficiency, especially in the red zone. But this is not, by nature or design, a high-octane unit.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com details Tate’s game-saving fumble recovery in the fourth quarter, “Marshawn Lynch’s fourth-quarter fumble could have given the Rams the ball in the red zone with a chance to take a late lead, but Tate emerged from the bottom of that pile with the football, extending a Seahawks drive that would end with the go-ahead touchdown. ‘Guys are trying to do whatever it takes to get the ball,’ Tate said after the Seahawks’ 20-13 win at CenturyLink Field. ‘In that instance I was OK – I felt like my wrist was about to break if I held onto the ball any longer. It’s just a dog fight in there. You get the ball however you can.’ “
Henderson also has his “Quick hits” following Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Rams, “The good. Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards for the 10th time this season. Seattle ran the ball effectively for much of the game, even when pass protection issues made it difficult to sustain drives. Golden Tate had key receptions on both of Seattle’s touchdown drives, gaining 31 yards on one and 44 on the other. He finished with a career-high 105 yards on three catches. The Rams had driven into Seattle territory after Wilson’s touchdown run, but Richard Sherman sealed a Seahawks win when he intercepted Sam Bradford on the goal line on fourth down.”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has his recap of Week 17, “Tate had a fine game, yet his 105 yards on four catches wasn’t his biggest contribution. Two plays earlier on the final drive, he recovered a rare Lynch fumble to give Seattle a first down at the 21-yard line. ‘If I don’t get that fumble, then we don’t get the big play,’ Tate said, grinning. The if-thens are falling Seattle’s way in the late season. They finished with five consecutive wins, tying the club’s 1986 record. They allowed the fewest points, 245, in team history. And for the third time in club annals, they went undefeated at home.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “Quick Take” on the Seahawks’ matchup with the Redskins, “Rookie QB battle. Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Washington’s Robert Griffin III are leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year. Wilson is healthier than Griffin. He has been hotter late in the season. Both start fresh in the playoffs. Both benefit from running backs with more than 1,500 yards for the regular season. The big question is to what degree Griffin can challenge the Seahawks’ defense after suffering a knee injury late in the season and taking hits from Dallas in Week 17.”
Sando has a look at why the Seahawks will be a tough out in the playoffs, “Some quarterbacks can beat you with their legs. Some can beat you with their arms. Wilson can do those things, but it’s not an either-or proposition with Seattle’s offensive rookie of the year candidate. Wilson’s ability to beat teams with his arm after beating them with his feet is what makes him a matchup nightmare. ‘You try to prepare for him all week and it’s hard to prepare for a guy like that who is mobile and can still throw at the same time,’ Rams defensive end William Hayes said. ‘I really don’t know a certain way to say ‘This is how you stop that kid.’ He is special.’ “
Lastly, Sando has his “Rapid Reaction” following Week 17 between the Seahawks and Rams, “The Seahawks know they’re set at quarterback when what was often a tough game for Wilson ends with a stat line featuring 15 completions in 19 attempts for 250 yards with one touchdown passing, another touchdown rushing and a 136.3 NFL passer rating. Wilson most likely set a franchise single-season record for passer rating.”
“Cyber surfing” will take a break tomorrow, New Years Day, and will return on Wednesday, January 1, 2013.
Greetings from a sunny, but chilly CenturyLink Field, site of the Seahawks’ regular-season finale today, and what probably will be their final home game of a very-successful third season under coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks don’t need to beat the Rams today to advance to the postseason, as was the case in the 2010 regular-season finale here between these NFC West rivals.
The Seahawks clinched the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs with last week’s impressive victory over the NFC West-leading 49ers. To win the division title, they must beat the Rams today, and also have the Cardinals beat the 49ers in San Francisco. To get a playoff game at CenturyLink Field, following a first-round bye, the Seahawks also need a Packers’ loss to the Vikings added to that what-if scenario.
But that’s putting things that are out the Seahawks’ control before the one thing they do control: Their performance against a 7-7-1 Rams team that is looking to go unbeaten in the division and post its first winning record since 2003.
The Seahawks’ four-game winning streak that has lifted them a 10-5 record has been built on taking each game not only one at a time, but treating each like a championship game. As Carroll said repeatedly during the week, if the Seahawks don’t take care of their business today nothing else that might happen will matter.
A matter of utmost importance today will involve how rookie QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ vastly improved offense will handle everything that the Rams’ blitz-crazy defense will throw at them.
And what’s that like? Here’s how Pro Bowl center Max Unger explained it Friday after practice: “It’s like a combination of the frequency that Arizona blitzes and it’s a lot of line movement, kind of like Chicago – those two defenses put into one. Big, exotic blitzes coming from everywhere, bringing every guy, making you throw hot every play.”
And speaking of hot, that’s what Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense have been in beating the Cardinals 58-0, the Bills 50-17 and the 49ers 42-13. Wilson passed for four touchdowns last week, and needs one more TD pass to tie Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 from 1998. He ran for three scores the week before.
The Seahawks also have averaged 243.3 rushing yards the past three games, and Marshawn Lynch needs only 10 to reach 1,500 for the season. The line had two players voted starters for the NFC in the Pro Bowl – Unger and left tackle Russell Okung.
On defense, the big news this week was cornerback Richard Sherman winning his appeal of a league-imposed, four-game suspension, which means he’ll play today – and that when cornerback Brandon Browner returns on Monday from his four-game suspension the defense will be at full strength for any and all postseason games the Seahawks will play.
As for the Seahawks’ No. 3-ranked special teams, they’ve scored two touchdowns in the past three games.
It will take another of these all-three-phases efforts today to ensure beating the Rams, which would allow the Seahawks to go 8-0 at home for only the third time in franchise history; give them more than 10 victories for the first time since going 13-3 in 2005, and only the third time in club history; and set them up to benefit from anything that might happen in other games.
While you’re waiting for the 1:25 p.m. kickoff, here’s a closer look at the five Seahawks who were voted to the NFC Pro Bowl squad through stories that we’ve written about each this season:
Unger, an Island boy who was too big to play Pee-Wee football;
Okung, the Seahawks’ Man of the Year who also has allowed only one sack all season;
Lynch, the Skittles-munching, Beast-Mode running back who can join Shaun Alexander (2004, 2005) and Chris Warren (1994) as the players in franchise history to run for more than 1,500 yards in a season;
Free safety Earl Thomas, who was voted to the Pro Bowl last season, as well, and this year also became a father.
Kick returner Leon Washington, who is second in the NFL in kickoff return average and this season scored on his eighth return to tie the NFL career record.
Enjoy the game, with coverage on FOX (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area) and also 710 AM ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3.
When: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Records: Seahawks 10-5 and second in the NFC West after last week’s 42-13 victory over the division-leading 49ers; Rams 7-7-1 and third in the NFC West after last week’s 28-13 victory over the Buccaneers
Significance: Seahawks already have clinched a playoff spot, but can win the division with a victory and a 49ers loss to the Cardinals; Rams can finished unbeaten in the division and also claim their first winning record since 2003
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jaime Maggio
Radio: 710 AM ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: Cardinals (5-10) at 49ers (10-4-1)
Rams linebackers James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar vs. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch: To say that the Rams have not had an answer for Lynch isn’t entirely true, but it’s close enough. The NFL’s second-leading rusher will be looking for his third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance against the Rams, and fourth game in a row with a touchdown against them. He ran for 118 yards and a TD in the Week 4 loss in St. Louis. He had 115 yards and a TD in a victory at CenturyLink Field last December, and 88 yards and a TD in the Week 11 win in St. Louis last season. And as improved as the Rams defense is under Jeff Fisher in his first season as coach, the Rams have not had to deal with the zone-read that the Seahawks have used so effectively – and productively – during their four-game winning streak, when they’re averaging 226.5 rushing yards; and Lynch is averaging 6.7 yards per carry with six rushing TDs. Laurinaitis (166) and Dunbar (144) have combined for 310 tackles.
One to watch
Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins vs. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: This one is a matchup of leading candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jenkins has scored four touchdowns, the most by a defensive rookie in league history. In addition to his three interception returns for score, he also has scored with a fumble recovery. Wilson, meanwhile, needs one TD pass to tie the rookie single-season record of 26 set by Peyton Manning in 1998, and two to break it. Wilson passed for four TDs in last week’s rout of the 49ers and has at least two in seven of his past 10 games. With a 98.0 passer rating, he’s also looking to crack the Top 5 among rookie QBs in NFL history. In the Week 4 loss to the Rams in St. Louis, Wilson threw three interceptions. But he has thrown just six in the 11 games since, and only two in the past seven games.
Fun to watch
Rams defensive end Chris Long vs. Wilson: It will take more than one Ram, even one as good as Long, to contain Wilson with the way he has been passing, and running, and tormenting D-linemen with his movement in and out of the pocket. But this one is special because Wilson and Long go way back. Wilson grew up in Richmond, Va.; while Long, the son of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Howie Long, was raised just-up-I-95 in Charlottesville, Va. “We grew up near each other and used to play each other all the time,” Wilson said. “I’m really good family friends with him. He’s a tremendous football player, one of the better defensive ends in the National Football League. I used to watch him play all the time. I know his family extremely well. So it will be great to play against him again.” Long has 8.5 sacks, while Wilson has been sacked just four times in the past three games.
One tough task
The Seahawks vs. the scoreboard: The 49ers and Cardinals will kickoff at the same time in San Francisco, while the Cowboys will play at the Redskins in the Sunday night game. Coach Pete Carroll was emphatic this week that winning the division is Goal No. 1, and has been. For that to happen, they need more than a little help from the Cardinals. If that doesn’t happen, then the Seahawks will be heading to either Dallas or D.C. in the opening round of the playoffs – with the winner of the Cowboys-Redskins game taking the NFC East and clinching the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. But as Carroll said when asked about taking the occasional peek at the CenturyLink Field scoreboard, “There won’t be anybody with a transistor radio the sideline. We won’t be doing that. We’re just going to play the game. We’ve got to take care of business. It doesn’t matter what happens if we don’t take care of our business.”
The Rams are 4-0-1 in the division and also have a three-game road winning streak, their longest since 2003. … The Seahawks have won their past four games, their longest winning streak since 2007, and six of their past seven. … The Seahawks are looking to go unbeaten at home for only the third time in franchise history, joining the 2003 and 2005 teams. … Rams running back Steven Jackson needs 10 yards to become the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons. … Since 2006, Jackson’s 11,134 combined yards rushing and receiving are the most in the league. … Rams wide receiver Chris Givens is averaging 46 yards on his three TD receptions. … Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 130 tackles and needs seven to break the rookie franchise record that was set in 1977 by Terry Beeson … The Rams had no players selected to the Pro Bowl, while the Seahawks had five – left tackle Russell Okung, center Max Unger, kick returner Leon Washington, free safety Earl Thomas and Lynch. … Washington’s 30.1-yard average returning kickoffs ranks second in the NFL. … Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has seven interceptions, which ties him for second in the league.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 28.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times has the story on Richard Sherman’s appeal of a four-game suspension, “Sherman had just been told by his attorney that he had won the appeal of his four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. ‘I won!’ he told the players. Hoots and cheers echoed across the room. High fives were exchanged. ‘High fives, as old school as it is, is still the best way to celebrate,’ Sherman said later in the day, grinning like a kid discovering another gift under the tree. ‘There was a sigh of relief for the whole team knowing that that was done and over with and we could move on from it. Justice was served.’ “
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has the Seahawks and Rams injury reports from yesterday, noting the return of five Seahawks players to practice.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his take on Sherman coming out on top of his suspension, “For the past two seasons, Sherman’s supreme confidence has helped the Seahawks defense. Now, the cornerback’s belief in himself and in his innocence helped him restore some of his reputation, and will help the Seahawks in the 2012 playoffs.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com comments on the improvement of the Seahawks’ offensive line, “Seattle’s offensive line has been considerably better this season, so much so that it will send two members to the Pro Bowl. Okung and center Max Unger were named starters Wednesday for the NFC team, becoming the first Seahawks offensive linemen to play in the Pro Bowl since Walter Jones following the 2008 season. It is the first Pro Bowl selection for each player.”
Henderson also passes along a short video from 710Sports.com’s Mike Salk, who discusses the impact Sherman’s availability will have on the Seahawks as they make their playoff push.
Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Linebacker Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury, while receiver Golden Tate came down with an illness. Limited in Thursday’s practice were right tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Receiver Sidney Rice was a full participant after sitting out Wednesday’s session with a sore knee. After one day out with a back problem, tight end Anthony McCoy was also full go. The St. Louis Rams are a pretty healthy team preparing for Sunday’s regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field. Running back Steven Jackson was over a Wednesday illness enough to do all the work in Thursday’s practice.”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from yesterday, “S Earl Thomas said it made his day better to know Sherman was going to be able to keep playing. ‘I came in a little shaken up just because you don’t know,’ Thomas said. ‘That’s my brother back there and it definitely feels good for him to take this journey and be on this team with us.’ “
Tim Booth of the Associated Press writes that even with a playoff berth secured, the Seahawks will look to continue their current win streak when they face the Rams in the regular season finale on Sunday, “Seattle is drastically different from the squad that floundered through a 19-13 loss in St. Louis in Week 4, and no one more so than quarterback Russell Wilson. At that time in late September, the Seahawks were still in the infancy of learning the unique qualities of their new quarterback. That was before Wilson’s running became a true threat as a complement to running back Marshawn Lynch. And it was before Seattle’s offense became the efficient machine it’s been the past three weeks. The whopping 150 points the Seahawks have scored the last three games stole the attention. But within that points eruption was a stunning run of offensive prowess led by Wilson. ‘He’s just an athletic guy. He’s been playing very well, as a rookie, as a young guy,’ Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. ‘You’ve got the combo of being a premier quarterback, but the athleticism of some of the best out there as well.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his best guesses for Week 17, picking the Seahawks to top the Rams, 27-13, “The Seahawks are 7-0 at home and about as hot as a team could be, having become the first team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams to score 150 points over a three-game period. St. Louis has gone 3-0-1 in its past four road games, and 4-0-1 against the NFC West. I’m most interested in seeing how the young quarterbacks compare. The Rams’ Sam Bradford faces a tougher test behind a reshuffled offensive line. Advantage, Russell Wilson. Also, the winning coach should be coach of the year in the division, in my view. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Rams 13.”
Sando takes a look at how the Rams are preparing for quarterback Russell Wilson, “Dave McGinnis, assistant head coach for the St. Louis Rams, knows the coverage might have to hold up a little longer when his team visits Seattle in Week 17. ‘The thing about him is, it’s not panic scrambles,’ McGinnis told reporters in St. Louis. ‘He’s moving and he’s improvising, but he’s doing it with a purpose. He’s always looking down field and most all of those types of plays that he makes, they’re all positive plays.’ “
Sando also has a look at the play of a pair of young NFC West corners – Janoris Jenkins and Sherman, “Seattle’s Richard Sherman has two touchdowns over the Seahawks’ past three games, one on an interception return and the other on a blocked field-goal return. His two touchdowns against Arizona and San Francisco are more than the one touchdown the Cardinals and 49ers scored in those games.”
NFL Films previews the Seahawks’ Week 17 matchup against the Rams in this short video.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has the story on Sherman’s successful appeal, “On more than one occasion during the process that was his appeal of a four-game suspension by the NFL, it was suggested to Richard Sherman that his chances of winning were slim and none. But Sherman, the Seahawks’ second-year cornerback, hasn’t just been there before. Slim and none have been his constant companions. ‘There were always people who said the chances were slim and none,’ Sherman said on Wednesday, when he was informed by his attorney that he had indeed won his appeal. ‘I told them, ‘My chances have always been slim and none. And I’ve always found a way to win those.’ You don’t make it this far without getting through some kind of adversity. This is just another phase. And I have great teammates and great coaches who supported me through it. The great fans we have supported and had faith through the whole process, and I was appreciative of that.’ “
Farnsworth also recaps the activities surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville” with a focus on Leon Washington and the team’s Pro Bowlers.
Finally, team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 27:
Pro Bowl glow. Five Seahawks were basking in it today, after being named to the NFC squad on Wednesday, when eight others received alternate status.
But the selection might have meant the most to Leon Washington, the kick returner whose career was supposed to be over after he severely broke his right fibula in a 2009 game while playing with the Jets. The Jets traded Washington to the Seahawks in a draft-day deal in 2010, and all he’s done this season is return his eighth kickoff for a touchdown to tie the NFL career record and rank second in the NFL with a 30.1-yard average.
“It feels great,” Washington said. “Just to know that all the hard work you put into something, it pays off – eventually. Considering my situation, where I came from with the broken-leg injury and getting traded, there are so many people to thank. My wife, first of all, because we’ve been through so much together. She was there with me when I broke my leg and has seen me comeback from that.
“Then I’m just so thankful for the opportunity – for coach (Pete) Carroll and coach (Brian) Schneider to give me the opportunity to do what I love to do. And then you think about all the guys who protect me and block for me when I return the kick. You’ve got to give a special thanks to them. Like I said yesterday, I want to give special thanks to my teammates. And the two key words in there are ‘special’ and ‘teammates’ – which means special teams. It’s definitely a team award.”
Washington also went to the Pro Bowl in 2008 while with the Jets.
Here’s what the others had to say:
Left tackle Russell Okung, on his first Pro Bowl selection – and with the disclaimer that he refuses to talk about himself: “This is about the team and what we’ve been trying to out together since Pete and John (Schneider, the GM) arrived. I hope you guys know I hate this (talking to reporters). But from a talent standpoint and the guys we got, I guess we’re pretty good.”
Center Max Unger, who also was voted to his first Pro Bowl: “What really makes it special is that it came from your peers. It’s the defensive linemen in the conference who voted for me, and that means a lot.”
Free safety Earl Thomas, who was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl: “I just try to play my part, and I appreciate that the coaches and players just respect the way I play and the way I prepare. It’s truly a blessing just to be a part of this game another year.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season and also was voted to the AFC squad in 2008 while playing with the Bills: Sorry. The Beast Mode back doesn’t like talking about himself, either.
Last year, Thomas was the only Seahawk voted to the Pro Bowl. He was then joined by four teammates who were alternates – cornerback Brandon Browner, strong safety Kam Chancellor, fullback Michael Robinson and Lynch. This year, that many players were voted to the NFC squad.
“We’re just getting better every year,” Thomas said. “And we’re showing the world what we’re all about.”
BRYANT WINS NFC HONOR
The league didn’t have to worry about selecting this week’s NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Carroll did it for them.
After Sunday’s 42-13 victory over the 49ers, Carroll offered, “The play of the game for me was Red. Red knocking that ball down on that field goal, and then Sherman scooping and scoring on that thing for 90, that was enormous moment.
“I think the bell rang right there – we have a chance to beat these guys on this night.”
The league office heard it as well, and tabbed Bryant for the weekly honor.
Bryant’s block – his first this season, but fifth in the past two seasons – came on the third play of the second quarter and extended the Seahawks lead to 21-0. It also followed Sherman breaking up a third-down pass in the end zone.
Bryant is the second Seahawk to win Special Teams Player of the Week this season, joining Washington (Week 12); and fifth Seahawk overall to be honored, joining defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 3), Sherman (Week 10) and rookie QB Russell Wilson (Week 13).
Sherman was nominated for Defensive Player of the Week, after also making an end-zone interception; while Wilson was nominated for Offensive Player of the Week for throwing four TD passes. But the winners were Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
HONORS ‘R US
Mike Sando at ESPN.com has selected his All-NFC West team and also handed out other honors, and the Seahawks are front and center.
Wilson is the division MVP. Says Sando: “Raise your hand if you thought the Seahawks rookie would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title.”
Schneider is the division Executive of the Year. Says Sando: “Schneider gets the call over St. Louis Rams counterpart Les Snead largely because he was the driving force behind the team’s decision to draft Wilson in the third round.”
Coach of the Year? Sando is waiting until after Sunday’s game, because if the Rams upset the Seahawks it’s Jeff Fisher for going unbeaten in the division and posting the Rams’ first winning record since 2003. If it’s the Seahawks, it’s Carroll. Says Sando: “If the Seahawks close out the season with an 8-0 record at home and an 11-5 record overall, Carroll will get my vote as top coach in the division. Carroll risked public ridicule and perhaps even his job by going with Wilson, a third-round rookie, when free-agent addition Matt Flynn had recently signed a three-year deal for $19.5 million. The move was subjecting Carroll to criticism as late as Week 4, when the Rams picked off Wilson three times during a 19-13 Seahawks defeat. Carroll trusted what he knew to be true about Wilson, and he has been proved right.”
Seahawks on the All-Division team: Okung, Unger, wide receiver Sidney Rice, Lynch, Robinson and Wilson on offense; Clemons, Sherman and Thomas on defense; and Washington as the kick returner.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)
WR Golden Tate (illness)
DE Red Bryant (foot)
OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (back)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
FS Earl Thomas (ankle)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
After seven players sat out on Wednesday, the list was down to two today. Malcolm Smith continued to work for Hill on the weakside, while Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse filled in for Tate.
For the Rams:
S Craig Dahl (knee)
CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)
RB Steven Jackson (illness)
LB James Laurinaitis (back)
WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)
CB Scott Wells (knee)
STAT DU JOUR, TEAM EDITION
Having already scored 173 points in December, the Seahawks need 27 against the Rams on Sunday to become the fourth team in NFL history to put up 200 in a calendar month. Here’s a look at the company the Seahawks are trying to join:
Team (month, year) Games Points
Frankford Yellow Jackets (November, 1924) 8 238
Los Angeles Rams (October, 1950) 5 220
New England Patriots (October, 2007) 5 217
Seattle Seahawks (December, 2012) 4 173
STAT DU JOUR, PLAYER EDITION
If Wilson can maintain his passer rating of 98.0, he will move into the Top 3 among rookie QBs in league history. Here’s a look at those top-rated rookies – as well as Wilson and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, who can move into the top spot:
Player, team (year) Rating
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004) 98.1
Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983) 96.0
Greg Cook, Bengals (1969) 88.3
Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008) 87.8
Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 84.5
With one game to go:
Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012) 104.1
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 98.0
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It was great news this morning to hear that. I know we’ve had our fingers crossed with the whole process. When we heard the news this morning I think everybody was pretty excited about it.” – defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Sherman having the appeal of his four-game suspension upheld
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.
Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.
Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ “
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as
the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ “
Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 26:
John Schneider. Add another name to the list of those associated with the Seahawks that deserves consideration for honors this season. With Schneider, it’s NFL Executive of the Year.
The Seahawks’ team that will host the Rams in its regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field on Sunday is 10-5 and clinched a playoff spot with last week’s decisive victory over the NFC West-leading 49ers. And the core of this team that has become the sixth in franchise history to post double-digit victories has been constructed the past three years by Schneider, the general manager, and coach Pete Carroll.
This year’s draft class included quarterback Russell Wilson, who was selected in the third round by Schneider and is a candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year; middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a second-round pick and candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; first-round pick Bruce Irvin, who leads all rookies with eight sacks; running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick who has provided the physical presence that was missing to complement leading rusher Marshawn Lynch; cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick who could start his third consecutive game on Sunday; and J.R. Sweezy, a former college defensive lineman and seventh-round pick who is the likely starter at right guard against the Rams.
“We’ve just continued to grow,” Carroll said. “Our way of thinking was hindered last year when we didn’t have the offseason (because of the 136-day lockout) to get our guys ready, because we wanted our guys to play early. That was hard as it could get, to see our philosophy and our approach to playing the young guys come to life.
“This is really the culmination of the three years, and the approach showed up this year I think successfully. You can see that we had a terrific draft and we’ve utilized those guys and they’ve grown to where they’re regular football players for us now.”
While it’s been three giant steps in the right direction for Carroll and Schneider, Carroll added, “We still feel like we’re in early stages. But we have been through three drafts, and he’s done a marvelous job with the drafts and with all of the transactions we’ve done.”
And with Carroll, that means tweaking the norm, because he looks for players with unique talents, rather than those who look as if they stepped out of the NFL-specs machine.
“To me, he’s an absolute joy,” Carroll said of Schneider. “Because we can talk about everything, work through everything and understand that we have to come to an agreement using all of the strengths and the savvy that we have. And we’ve turned out a pretty good product.
“I can’t imagine anybody doing a better job general managing than John has done. He’s just done an incredible job.”
FIVE VOTED TO PRO BOWL
Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters on the NFC Pro Bowl team today, while kick returner Leon Washington also made the squad and running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves.
To further the point Carroll made above, Okung and Thomas were the first-round draft choices in the first year Carroll and Schneider were in charge, while Washington and Lynch were acquired in trades during that first year.
For more on the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl selections, click here.
EDWARDS IMPRESSED WITH WILSON
Former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, now an analyst for ESPN, has selected his 10 most impressive players for 2012 and a certain rookie quarterback made the list.
Edwards on Wilson: “Wilson has been answering questions about his size (5-foot-11) his whole career. I think it’s time to put those to rest. The Seahawks have done a tremendous job expanding the playbook for Wilson over the course of the season, giving him only as much as they thought he could handle. He has terrific poise, is extremely accurate down the field and has led the Seahawks to road victories in Chicago and Buffalo before blowing out San Francisco on Sunday. In the red zone this year, he has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.”
Edwards also gives cornerback Richard Sherman honorable mention, offering: “Although his status for the playoffs is uncertain, Sherman has had an excellent season. A smart player, Sherman is very physical at the line of scrimmage and has great change-of-direction and ball skills, especially with his back to the quarterback. He has selective memory, which is important as a cornerback, and doesn’t fear anyone. He has evolved into a true shutdown corner.”
Brandon Gibson. The Rams’ second-leading receiver (48 receptions) and leader in touchdown catches (five) played at Washington State University and obviously is developing into a nice complement to leading receiver Danny Amendola.
“Gibby’s done great,” Jeff Fisher, the Rams’ first-year head coach, said today during a conference-call interview. “He’s been making plays since we arrived. He’s real smart. He’s tough. He can make the tough catch.
“It’s fun to see him, not only on Sundays, but make some tremendous catches on the practice field. Most of the catches should be easy and are easy, because Sam (Bradford) is an accurate passer. But every once in a while he needs to put it someplace and Gibby can go get it. He’s one of those guys you want on your football team. He’s fun to coach and fun to be around.”
POWERING UP, PART DEUX
Monday, we mentioned that the Seahawks had jumped to No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com and to No. 6 in the Power Rankings at ESPN.com. Today, they continued their ascent in some other Power Rankings.
No. 2 in Bryan McIntyre’s Power Rankings at YahooSports.com: “The Seahawks showed that they’re for real with a 42-13 blowout of the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night. From an advanced metrics standpoint, the Seahawks are the No. 1 team in the NFL, ranking in the Top 5 in Football Outsiders’ offensive, defensive and special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). With a win over the Rams and losses by the 49ers and Packers, the Seahawks will get a first-round bye in the playoffs.”
No. 5 in Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings at CBSSports.com: “They are building something special up there for the long haul.”
No. 5 in Don Banks’ Power Ratings at SI.com: “As I said last week, let the Seahawks hang up a stupid number against the stout 49ers defense, and a legitimate case of Super Bowl Fever will break out in the Pacific Northwest. All systems go on that front. Seattle’s only fear might be peaking before the playoffs arrive.”
O-LINE “MADDEN-ED” AGAIN
For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been selected as the winner of the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.
“With great balance on offense behind the steady play of offensive line and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are now poised to make a playoff run,” Hall of Fame coach John Madden said in the release announcing the selection of the Seahawks’ line.
The starting unit is comprised by – from left tackle to right – Okung, Paul McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy and Breno Giacomini. And because of the lopsidedness of the 42-13 win over the 49ers, backups Frank Omiyale and Lemuel Jeanpierre played in the second half.
Wilson threw for a career-high four touchdowns, while Lynch ran for 111 yards and scored twice.
The Seahawks’ line joins the 49ers (three times), Texans (twice), Giants (twice) and Vikings (twice) as multiple winners of the weekly Madden honor. But the Seahawks are the first unit to win it in back-to-back weeks.
Tight end Cooper Helfet has been signed to the practice squad. Defensive end Monte Taylor was released to clear a spot. Helfet was signed in May as a rookie agent, but was waived/injured on the roster cut to 53 players in August.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
DE Red Bryant (foot)
OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)
LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (back)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
FS Earl Thomas (ankle)
With Giacomini sidelined, Omiyale worked at right tackle. Greg Scruggs filled in at defensive end Red Bryant. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse got snaps at split end for Rice. Washington and Turbin shared the reps at running back with Lynch out.
For the Rams:
Did not practice
CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)
RB Steven Jackson (illness)
LB James Laurinaitis (back)
CB Scott Wells (knee)
Limited in practice
S Craig Dahl (knee)
WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)
STAT DU JOUR
Among the Seahawks’ 10 victories are wins over three other teams that have won double digit games, which ties for the most in the league. Here’s a look at the league-leaders in that category, as well as a look at how many of those wins the teams that have won more than 10 or more games have:
Most wins vs. teams with 10-plus wins
Team Wins Teams
Seahawks 3 Packers, Patriots 49ers
Texans 3 Broncos, Ravens, Colts
Patriots 3 Broncos, Colts, Texans
49ers 3 Seahawks, Packers, Patriots
Rams 2 Seahawks, 49ers
Giants 2 49ers, Packers
Vikings 2 49ers, Texans
Teams with 10-plus wins vs. other teams with 10-plus wins
Team (record) Wins Opponents
Seahawks (10-5) 3 Packers, Patriots, 49ers
Patriots (11-4) 3 Broncos, Colts, Texans
Texans (12-3) 3 Broncos, Ravens, Colts
49ers (10-4-1) 3 Seahawks, Packers, Patriots
Falcons (13-2) 1 Broncos
Ravens (10-5) 1 Patriots
Packers (11-4) 1 Texans
Colts (10-5) 1 Packers
Broncos (12-3) 1 Ravens
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Rams.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Watching @DangeRussWilson this weekend really took me back. He has to be this season’s #NFL Rookie of Year. @Seahawks.” – a tweet from former Vikings and Giants QB Fran Tarkenton, who Wilson has been compared to this season and especially during NBC’s telecast of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers