Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson isn’t the only one who knows his way around a video camera.
Perhaps influenced by Robinson’s accomplishments on The Real Rob Report, wide receiver Doug Baldwin has also taken to the art of video production in his spare time this offseason, generating short video blogs he dubs The Fresh Files – a complement to his Twitter display name: Dbfresh.
Like The Real Rob Report, The Fresh Files is made by the player and for the fans, as Baldwin takes requests and comments from his newly-created Facebook page into account when creating his videos. In his most recent video (featured above) Baldwin took the time to answer fan-generated questions that users submitted to his Facebook page, including “How are you and the wide receiver core looking to improve in 2013?”, “Have you ever asked another player for an autograph?”, and “Do you take a break during the offseason, or do you continue to train?”
And although he’s just 24-years-old and heading into his third season, Baldwin has life after football in mind with his latest endeavor.
“My intention is just to diversify my resume,” Baldwin said of The Fresh Files. “I wouldn’t mind doing some analysis after football, so I’m just setting it up that way.”
The Stanford alum and Seahawks’ 2011 leading receiver says he has hopes of running The Fresh Files on a weekly basis throughout the offseason, so be sure to stay socially connected to Baldwin and keep an eye on this blog for the latest from No. 89.
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.”
ATLANTA – A recap of the Seahawks’ 30-28 loss to the Falcons in their divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Russell Wilson. In the end, the Seahawks came up short. But there would not have been the dramatic comeback without the resilient efforts and calm-as-they-come leadership of the rookie quarterback who was deemed by many to be “too short” to play in this league. It was so impressive that he should change the spelling of his last name to Will-son, because he did everything in his power to will his team into the NFC Championship game.
“The kid is going to be amazing,” veteran fullback Michael Robinson said. “He’s going to do nothing but get better.”
What Wilson did in this game, on this stage and after the Falcons had taken a 20-0 halftime lead, was pretty amazing, too.
He was 3 of 3 for 59 yards in the nine-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half that ended with his 29-yard TD pass to Golden Tate. He was 4 of 4 for 69 yards on the eight-play, 80-yard drive on the Seahawks’ next possession that ended with his 1-yard TD run. He was 3 of 3 for 57 yards on the four-play, 62-yard drive to was setup when All-Pro safety Earl Thomas intercepted a pass and ended with Wilson’s 3-yard TD pass to Zach Miller. He was 3 of 4 – proving that he is indeed human, on occasion – for 50 yards in the seven-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Marshawn Lynch’s 2-yard TD run and gave the Seahawks their momentary lead.
Put it all together and Wilson had a career-high 385 passing yards while completing 24 of his season-high 36 passes to finish with a passer rating of 109.1. Oh, and he also was the Seahawks’ leading rusher with 60 yards on seven carries.
“Our quarterback did a great job today leading us back,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”
In the end, it wasn’t quite enough. But without the way Wilson played in the second half, there would not have been all the handwringing about the way this one ended.
“I think you saw with Russell Wilson’s development, how far he can take us,” Miller said. “Obviously he’s a franchise quarterback. He’s a guy that wins game for you. We saw that today. He should have been credited with a comeback win today.”
Miller. The Seahawks’ tight end said he felt something pop in his foot on the team’s first series of the game, and his self-diagnosis was a torn plantar fasciitis.
“I kind of knew what it was,” Miller said. “I’ve done it on my other foot before, so I know I can play with it.”
His return was listed as questionable, but return Miller did. With a vengeance. Before this one was over, he had caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. In a game that featured the Falcons’ trio of Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones, as well as teammates Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, no one caught more balls for more yards that the sore-footed Miller.
“Zach Miller did a tremendous job today, and all season,” Wilson said. “He’s a true fighter. He makes great catches. He’s runs great routes. He’s a great blocker. He’s a tough, tough player. He’s unbelievable.”
It wasn’t just that Miller had eight receptions, it’s when he had them. It was Miller who caught Wilson’s first two completions – for 23 and 8 yards – after the Seahawks’ first two possessions resulted in a three-and-out and a lost fumble. It was Miller who opened the next possession with a 34-yarder. He later added a 20-yarder and a 9-yarder on the final series of the half, when Miller was one of most productive players in an offense that was struggling. In the second half, Miller had a 19-yarder on the drive to the first touchdown. Then there was a 26-yarder on the drive to the second touchdown. The next drive ended with his TD catch.
All from a tight who was playing on a bad foot.
REDEPMPTIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Ryan. You might have heard, the Falcons’ QB was oh-for-his-career in the postseason. Despite winning 56 regular-season games in five seasons, it was his 0-3 record in the playoffs that was the talk of this town all week.
Ryan finally silenced it, throwing for three touchdowns while completing 24 of 35 passes for 250 yards. But when his team needed him most, with 31 seconds to play and the Seahawks up 28-27, the QB they call “Matty Ice” was just that as he passed for 22 yards to Harry Douglas and 19 yards to Tony Gonzalez to setup the Falcons’ game-winning field goal.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Roddy White’s falling grab of a 47-yard pass from Ryan for the Falcons’ second touchdown. There were seven touchdown plays in this game. But this one came with style points. First, because White beat All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who broke up three other passes during the game. Then there was the effort that went into it. But also because it gave the Falcons their 20-0 halftime lead.
Defense: William Moore’s stop of Robinson on a fourth-and-1 play from the Falcons’ 11-yard line in the second quarter. Down 13-0, and after Robert Turbin had been tackled for no gain on third-and-1, the Seahawks went to Robinson – who converted 6 of 7 third-and-1 situations during the regular season to rank among the league leaders. But not this time, because of the play the Falcons’ safety was able to make.
“They did a great job,” Robinson said. “One of our staple plays. They brought extra D-linemen in; they set the safety off the edge. We didn’t have enough blockers for them.”
Honorable mention to Thomas’ interception, which stopped a Falcons drive just as it was getting started and set up the Seahawks’ third touchdown.
Special teams: When you kick the game-winner to send your team into the NFC Championship game – as hosts of the conference title game – it has to be you. So Matt Bryant it is, who hit a 49-yard field goal with eight second to play. The kick put the Falcons back up by two after the Seahawks had taken a one-point lead with 31 seconds remaining.
The Seahawks had more yards (491-417) and more first downs (28-24) than the Falcons, but two fewer points.
The Seahawks season ended in the divisional round of the playoffs for the sixth time. It also happened in 1984, 27-20 to the Dolphins in Miami; 1988, 21-13 to the Bengals in Cincinnati; 2006, 27-24 in overtime to the Bears in Chicago; 2007, 42-20 to the Packers in Green Bay; and 2010, 34-24 to the Bears in Chicago.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had a game-high seven solo tackles and an interception.
Playing without sack leader Chris Clemons, the Seahawks went without a sack for only the second time this season.
Lynch averaged 6.5 yards per carry during the team’s six-game winning streak, but a Falcons defense that had allowed an average of 4.8 yards per carry during the regular season held him to 2.9 (46 yards on 16 carries).
Ryan Longwell, who just joined the team on Wednesday, kicked four PATs.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We felt like this was our year. And next year we’re going to feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we’re not going to lack in confidence and we’re going to come to fight for 60 minutes.” – Robinson
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 10.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times rehashes defensive end Bruce Irvin’s path to the NFL – a path that has led him into the starting lineup this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, “Irvin didn’t start this season, but was more than a backup. He was a situational pass-rusher on the field for about half of Seattle’s defensive snaps. He had eight sacks this season, more than any other rookie in the NFL. Sunday in Washington, after Clemons was injured, Irvin had a sack of quarterback Robert Griffin III that demonstrated just how fast Irvin is. ‘It’s his great asset,’ Carroll said. That quickness has carried him all the way to the NFL. And now, 10 years after he was headed toward a dead end in Georgia, Irvin is returning to the town where he grew up — for the first starting assignment in a career that is just beginning. ‘He can be a double-digit sack guy for a long time once he gets going,’ Carroll said.”
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says that for everything Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has accomplished in four seasons in the NFL, he has still yet to win a game in the playoffs, “This year, Ryan has received MVP chatter for leading the Falcons to the best record in the NFC. His coach, Mike Smith, said Wednesday that ‘individually, it’s been his best year in terms of most of the markers you look for in a quarterback.’ Except one, and therein lies the paradox. In three playoff games over the previous four seasons, Ryan has yet to produce a victory. He has thrown for less than 200 yards in all three of those games, and has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). His playoff QB rating of 71.2 pales in comparison to his regular-season mark of 90.9. It’s getting dangerously close to being a legacy-killer for the quarterback selected third overall out of Boston College in the 2008 draft (15 spots ahead of Joe Flacco, who already has six playoff wins with the Ravens). But rectify that omission to his resume, and Ryan will be celebrated both as the man who led the Falcons out of the wilderness of a 4-12 record the season before he arrived, and the one who can take them to the next level.”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says head coach Pete Carroll’s decision making as a head coach has improved, “It’s not that the coach is arrogant. He often gambles within games because he’s too hopeful. Carroll is the ultimate optimist. And during his USC tenure, that optimism often resulted in dramatic success. ‘I got going for nine years straight of going for it every single chance you get — forever,’ Carroll said. But he is learning that, in the NFL, being conservative is both a virtue and a life-saver. ‘I think we’ve cleaned things up,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a good formula for doing it. It’s interesting: It hasn’t come up as much. We haven’t had that many dramatic opportunities to go for it or not.” You get the feeling that, if the Seahawks advance far enough in the playoffs, Carroll will have to make some tough choices under great scrutiny. Will he continue to play it safe? Or will the riverboat gambler in him sneak out?”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times checks in with newly-signed kicker Ryan Longwell, “Longwell beat out three other kickers who were invited to try out Tuesday, heading into Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Atlanta. ‘It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching,’ he said. Changing kickers at this point of the season is “a big deal to us,” coach Pete Carroll said, but Longwell’s experience — winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1998 — helped earn him the job, not to mention a 55-yard field goal in Tuesday’s workout. ‘When you look at Ryan’s background, the great experience he’s had, the time he’s had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that,’ Carroll said.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the signing of defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, “The 33-year-old Chukwurah, who most recently played two seasons in the UFL before that league folded, hasn’t played organized football of any sorts for more than a year. Yet he was impressive enough in a tryout Tuesday that the Seahawks signed him over other better-known defensive ends, a result that even he had a hard time believing. ‘Honestly, no,’ Chukwurah said when asked if he still thought an NFL comeback was realistic. ‘I was really set on moving on and starting the next chapter, so it’s definitely a blessing.’ “
Boyle also writes that the Seahawks are not letting the playoff pressure get to them, “Any player you ask will tell you a Super Bowl title is the team’s goal. But it has been clear the last two weeks that this young team, which has gotten better faster than most expected, isn’t tensing up now as the stakes become higher. ‘This team is in a real good place,’ said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant. ‘It’s good for us that we can focus and just kind of take the challenges as they come, and not get too high or too low. We’re just trying to stay the course, and that’s been good for us.’ Seattle’s levelheadedness has led to pretty consistent play all season — the Seahawks have not lost a game by more than seven points all year — and keeping things the same in the postseason has helped a young team from succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs. ‘It’s very important to just maintain the same routine,’ said fullback Michael Robinson. ‘(Head coach) Pete (Carroll) does a great job of keeping practice the same.’ “
Tim Booth of the Associated Press says defensive end Bruce Irvin is ready to step in for the injured Chris Clemons, “For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record. Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game. ‘I’m still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He’s like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,’ Irvin said. ‘Next year, I’ll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I’m not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons’) spot. I’m not looking for that. My time will come and when it’s that time it will all handle itself.’ “
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice – a practice running back Marshawn Lynch sat out with a foot injury, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not participate in practice. Unlike most weeks when he is given a rest day for his balky back, Lynch was listed on Wednesday’ practice report with a foot injury.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com passes along a conversation with NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, who believes that if the Seahawks can secure an early lead over the Falcons on Sunday, “it’s over”, “The Falcons, Seattle’s divisional-round opponent, have one of the league’s better passing attacks, ranking sixth in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes during the regular season. Despite that, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes doubts their ability to come back if they were to fall behind to the Seahawks. ‘If they get up early, it’s over. Have a nice day, Atlanta Falcons,’ Dukes told “Bob and Groz” on Wednesday. ‘The Falcons’ line is not built to handle that pressure.’ ” Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” share their thoughts in this short video.
The staff at SportsPressNW.com passes along several notes from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s Wednesday press conference.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along QBR ranks from Wild Card weekend, “Wilson made positive contributions, impressing those who have watched mostly from afar to this point. The visuals were all there: Wilson flipping a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Robinson, Wilson running interference downfield so his running back could gain additional yardage, Wilson firing downfield strikes to Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice. If tight end Anthony McCoy hadn’t dropped a pass deep in Redskins territory, Seattle might have fared better than its 1-of-6 showing in the red zone. On the whole, however, this performance from Wilson was hardly consistent with the ones that separated him from Robert Griffin III and made him second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR from Week 8 through regular season’s end.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson joined ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike”, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.
ESPN The Magazine has a look into Wilson’s past as a professional baseball player, sharing conversations with the scouting supervisor of the Colorado Rockies, Wilson’s baseball coach at North Carolina State, the editor of Baseball America, and more.
Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com says Russell Wilson may be the best young quarterback in the League, “If Russell Wilson is too short, give me short! Facing Baltimore, first overall selection Andrew Luck wilted under a steady blitz. Experienced quarterbacks want to be blitzed — if Baltimore tries the same at Denver, Peyton Manning will eat the Ravens’ lunch. But Luck is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Facing Seattle, second overall selection Robert Griffin twisted his knee late in the first quarter, lost his amazing quickness, then lost the game. RG III throws himself at a defense, taking big hits. Experienced quarterbacks avoid big hits. But Griffin is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Then there was Wilson. Washington blitzed him hard, and by the fourth quarter, he wanted to be blitzed, because he was beating this tactic like a veteran — see more below. Wilson ran for 67 yards, including the game’s longest rush, but whenever a defender had him in his sights, he stepped out of bounds, slid or threw the ball away. Wilson played like a seasoned veteran. One reason is that he had the most college starts of the young-gun quarterbacks. Wilson started 50 games in college, versus 40 for Griffin and 38 for Luck. Add another dozen starts to RG III and he will avoid big hits. Add another dozen starts to Luck and he’ll be looking forward to the blitz. Wilson already has these skills.”
And Chris Burke of SI.com offers an X’s and O’s break down Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Falcons, “Will Seattle continue to use Irvin off the left edge this coming Sunday? Carroll said only that Irvin will start at the “Leo” spot — a position in Carroll’s defense reserved for a fast rusher, almost like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Irvin, as mentioned, has done a lot of his work from left end, but will the Seahawks try to play the matchups? Playing Irvin on the left means he’ll deal with Clabo; on the right is Baker. Neither is a slouch, but Clabo, a 2010 Pro Bowler, may be the stiffer test of the two.”
A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 7:
Steven Hauschka. The Seahawks’ kicker has a strained muscle in his lower calf, so his status for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta is in question.
“We don’t know how significant it is,” coach Pete Carroll said during his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media. “He feels better today than he did yesterday.”
Hauschka was injured during the team’s 24-14 victory over the Redskins in their wild-card playoff game at FedEx Field on Sunday. He was able to kick field goals, hitting from 32, 29 and 22 yards. But punter Jon Ryan had to handle the final three kickoffs.
“He really did a great job of kicking through it and making the plays we needed him to make,” Carroll said.
Carroll said the team will have kickers in for tryouts on Tuesday, just in case.
“There are a lot of scenarios here for us,” Carroll said. “So we’ll see what happens tomorrow and then see what happens the next day.”
Hauschka made 24 of his 27 field-goal attempts during the regular season, with one kick blocked and the two misses coming from 61 and 51 yards.
SURGERY FOR CLEMONS
Chris Clemons, who has led the team in sacks in each of his three seasons with the Seahawks, has been lost because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee. He was injured in Sunday’s game.
“He will have to have surgery,” Carroll said. “So we’ll miss him, which is a big loss for us in a lot of ways. Chris has been a great football player. He’s been just a symbol of consistency for the years we’ve had him.”
With Clemons out, first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin will step into the Leo end spot for this week’s game against the Falcons.
BRADLEY, BEVELL DRAW INTEREST
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have been linked to vacant head-coaching jobs in the league, and Carroll confirmed that interest.
“Both those guys have been contacted,” Carroll said. “I think it’s a real positive for the program when people want to talk to your guys. I’ve always felt that’s a real cool thing.”
It will not, however, be a factor in this week’s preparation for the Falcons.
“There’s a time and a place,” Carroll said. “Both guys are very aware of what we’re doing and what we’re in for here. Neither one of them is going to let this distract them or get in the way. There are very limited opportunities for any of that. They’re not going to travel and go places and run around and all that.
“In all due respect for what we’re after right now, it’s low on their list. Both these guys feel exactly the same way about it. They’re both fantastic candidates. They’re equipped. They’ve got their act together. They’re going to be head coaches, whether it’s now or in the near future. So we’ll see how it goes.”
MORE KING-SIZED PRAISE FOR SEAHAWKS
Last week, Peter King at SI.com shared that he voted for both Russell Wilson (offense) and Bobby Wagner (defense) as NFL rookies of the year. Today, he lists all his votes for the Associated Press honors, including fullback Michael Robinson and cornerback Richard Sherman on the All-Pro team.
King also tabs GM John Schneider as NFL Executive of the Year. All of King’s selections are available here.
Don Banks at SI.com also voted Wilson the offensive rookie of the year, and his feeling vindicated after his performance against the Redskins: “It was an almost impossible choice, but I voted for Seattle’s Wilson as the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in last week’s AP balloting, and after Sunday, I’m feeling fine about that choice. Team results don’t mean everything in an individual award, of course, but Wilson and the Seahawks will play on while (Andrew) Luck’s Colts and (Robert) Griffin’s Redskins are going home for the offseason. Does anyone who calls themselves a judge of NFL talent still think Wilson is too short at 5-foot-10 or whatever he is? You can argue Wilson has a better team around him than Luck or Griffin, but all three wound up in the playoffs, and only Wilson found a way to get his team a win – on the road no less, where Seattle went 3-5 this regular season, and hadn’t won in the playoffs since 1983.”
THOMAS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND
Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas has been named to the 2012 All-Fundamentals Team, which not surprising after watching the way he tracked the ball and then displayed his closing speed in making an interception against the Redskins on Sunday.
You can view here the rest of the team, and also see and hear what they have to say about Thomas.
STAT DU JOUR
Marshawn Lynch has joined Shaun Alexander as the only backs in franchise history to have two 100-yard rushing performances in the postseason, and Lynch did it on Sunday by tying Alexander’s playoff-record total. Here’s a look at their triple-digit games, as well as the others in club history:
Player, opponent (date) Yards
Marshawn Lynch, Redskins (Jan. 6, 2010) 132
Shaun Alexander, Panthers (Jan. 22, 2006) 132
Marshawn Lynch, Saints (Jan. 8, 2011) 131
Dan Doornink, Raiders (Dec. 22, 1984) 126
Curt Warner, Dolphins (Dec. 31, 1983) 113
Shaun Alexander, Bears (Jan. 14, 2007) 108
The players were “off” on Monday and also will be “off” on Tuesday. But they’re required to get in a workout once during the two-day period. They will return on Wednesday to begin practice for Sunday’s game in Atlanta.
In case once wasn’t enough, the NFL Network will replay Sunday’s game at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Need another reason to watch, or re-watch? They had the loquacious Sherman wired for sound during the game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“What a matchup this weekend. Wow. They’ve got great receivers. Roddy and Julio, those guys are fantastic players. You’re going to see the biggest, longest-looking guys going one-on-one out there. It’s going to be really a great matchup to watch.” – Carroll on Sherman and fellow cornerback Brandon Browner going against Falcons wide receivers Roddy White and Juilo Jones, who combined for 171 receptions, 2,549 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches during the regular season
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 7.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his game recap from yesterday, “[Russel] Wilson and [Marshawn] Lynch. The combination produced the Seahawks’ winning touchdown with 7:08 left. Wilson and Lynch. It was the combination punch that allowed Seattle to overcome its largest deficit of the season to win the franchise’s first road playoff game in 29 years. Seattle 24, Washington 14. ‘A great finish,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. And it’s just the beginning. Seattle continues its playoff run in Atlanta next Sunday in the NFC’s divisional playoffs.”
O’Neil also has his “Two-Minute Drill“, naming running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Zach Miller his players of the game, “Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 132 yards and atoned for a third-quarter fumble at the Washington 2 by scoring the winning touchdown on a 27-yard run with 7:08 left. Seahawks tight end Zach Miller caught four passes for 48 yards. Two of his receptions resulted in third-down conversions when Seattle needed 10 or more yards.”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has his thoughts on the Wild Card win, “How dramatic was this comeback? After Griffin threw his second touchdown pass of the first quarter, to tight end Logan Paulsen, Washington led 14-0 and had amassed 129 yards of offense. The Seahawks had minus-2. It felt like they had fallen behind during the national anthem. The fast-paced Washington offense had hit them swiftly and relentlessly, scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions and taking a commanding lead before the Seahawks could catch their breath enough to say, ‘Uh oh.’ But from that point on, the Seahawks outgained Washington 382-74. There goes the notion that the Seahawks aren’t built to come from behind. ‘That’s dumb stuff now,’ linebacker K.J. Wright said. ‘We’ve got a good quarterback now. We’ve got good receivers. We can sling it down the field if we have to. We can still run when we’re behind, too. That stuff is over with.’ “
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks took advantage of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who was not at full strength, “Griffin was 6 for 9 for 68 yards in the first quarter. He was 4 for 10 for 16 yards the rest of the game. Washington had nine first downs in the first quarter and six the final three. ‘Throughout the whole game you could tell how hurt he was,’ Sherman said. ‘But he has a lot of heart, and that’s my guy and I’ll talk him up until the sun comes home. You’ve got to respect the guy. His knee’s a lot worse than it seems, but he’s still out there battling for his guys. That kind of heart is something you respect — out of this world.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his gamer from yesterday, “The victory marked Seattle’s first playoff road win in nearly 30 years. The Seahawks last win away from home took place on Dec. 31, 1983, a 27-20 victory at Miami in the AFC divisional playoffs. The Seahawks had lost eight straight before Sunday’s win over the Redskins. Seattle now travels to Atlanta (13-3) for an NFC divisional playoff contest on Sunday. ‘You can’t win this game in the first quarter,’ Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. ‘And we understand that. You’ve just got to keep fighting and plugging away. It’s all about what that score says at the end of the fourth quarter.’ “
Williams also writes that after a rough first quarter, the Seahawks defense held the NFL’s second-leading rusher Alfred Morris in check, “Morris had 49 yards on eight carries in the first quarter, but he only totaled 31 more yards the rest of the game. The Seahawks held Washington to 104 total rushing yards. ‘They just were running a little bit of a different scheme than we expected,’ Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. ‘They were going more outside. In previous games they had played more zone read stuff up the middle. And that’s great coaching by (Washington head coach Mike) Shanahan and those guys.’ “
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune highlights Lynch’s big day, “Lynch rushed for 132 yards (6.6 average), but two plays in particular made the difference in the game. The first came in the middle of the second quarter, when Seattle trailed 14-3. The read-option play, in which Wilson either keeps the ball or hands it to Lynch, has been at the heart of the team’s late surge. But on this play, the ball bounced loose between them and squirted in the direction of several Redskins players at about the Seattle 40-yard line. Down by 11, and on the verge of giving up a turnover in their own territory, the Seahawks’ postseason was in peril. But Lynch reacted instantly, and rather than dive on it, as is the accepted practice, he speared it with one hand and ran 20 yards into Washington territory. Five plays later, Wilson passed to fullback Michael Robinson for a touchdown that brought the Seahawks back into the game. ‘That had to be an extraordinary play,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘Dead run, scoop it up and keep on going. That was a huge play for us … it happened so fast you could hardly believe what he did.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald details the play of tight end Zach Miller, “Facing third-and-12, Wilson couldn’t find a target open down field, so he dumped a short pass off to Miller. In fact, the pass was nearly too short, but Miller managed scoop it up just before it hit the ground. That impressive catch wasn’t going to get the job done by itself, however, because Miller was still six yards short of the first-down marker, so Miller turned and ran knowing how important this first down was. First he spun out of an attempted tackle by cornerback Josh Wilson, then powered through cornerback DeAngelo Hall to get exactly the 12 yards Seattle needed. The play was one part talent and two parts sheer will, and it was symbolic of resilience the Seahawks showed in coming back from a two-touchdown deficit in a hostile environment. Pete Carroll loves to preach that it isn’t how you start, but how you finish, and in finishing that play, Miller set the tone for a big finish that at the time seemed highly unlikely. ‘It shows how far we’ve come from when we were struggling on the road early in the season,’ Miller said via cell phone 90 minutes after the Seahawks had finished off their first road playoff victory since 1983. ‘In a playoff game, with a rookie quarterback, to be able to answer a 14-point deficit the way we did, it’s just a testament to our team and the resolve we have and how much confidence we have in each other.’ “
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com makes it clear that the Seahawks beat the Redskins, and that the Redskins did not beat themselves, “Robert Griffin III didn’t lose the game by himself. Mike Shanahan isn’t a goat for allowing his quarterback to play hurt. The Seahawks weren’t just the beneficiaries of a stroke of good luck. One complete team beat another complete team. And for three quarters, it wasn’t even close.”
Like Boyle, Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com also points to Miller’s play as a key part of the Seahawks victory, “Miller finished the regular season as Seattle’s third-leading receiver. The numbers aren’t flashy – 396 yards and three touchdowns on 38 receptions – but then again, neither is Miller. For all the dirty work he does to help make the Seahawks’ offense move, Miller delivered Sunday with the ball in his hands. ‘Zach just continues to do cool stuff and play really well,’ Carroll said.”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com recaps Wilson’s day, “The Seahawks had the Redskins right where they wanted them. That was not apparent to many, maybe even among the Seahawks. Except for one guy. ‘It is a little weird,’ said Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson. ‘To keep his composure in this wild environment, first playoff game for him and all . . . it’s just weird. But Russell Wilson always does it. I’ve seen veteran, older quarterbacks crumble and crack in the same situation. Not him.’ “
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com has his reaction following Sunday’s Seahawks win, “It’s not often that a team should be happy about a one-point deficit at halftime of a game, but the Seahawks went into the visitors’ locker room at Washington D.C.’s FedEx Field down 14-13, and undoubtedly happy to be in the game at all. The Redskins, led by the brutal rushing attack of Alfred Morris and two touchdown passes thrown by Robert Griffin III, were up 14-0 with 2:31 left in the first half. ‘It was a battle,’ Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said after the game. ‘Both teams fought really hard, and it was a tremendous game, We’re fortunate to come out with a win, and we’re excited about the opportunities.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his game story from yesterday, “By the time Lynch was finished putting 132 yards and the game-winning touchdown on the Redskins, the fifth-seeded Seahawks had won a road playoff game for the first time since 1983. They had overcome their largest deficit of the season, 14 points. They had set a franchise record for the largest deficit overcome in a postseason game. ‘As much momentum as they had, it is a marvelous statement,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘We were getting our butt kicked, there was no doubt about that.’ “
Sando has his “Rapid Reaction” following Sunday’s game, “The Seahawks took advantage of matchup advantages at tight end. Zach Miller made a difficult catch early and his catch for a two-point conversion was key. Miller also had a 22-yard reception on his way to a four-catch, 48-yard game. Washington allowed 10 touchdown passes to tight ends during the regular season, third most in the NFL.”
Sando also has his first look at next Sunday’s divisional round matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, “Opposites. These teams from the Southeast and Northwest have more than geography to differentiate them. The Seahawks have the second-youngest roster in the NFL, counting players on various reserve lists. The Falcons have the fifth-oldest roster. The Seahawks have the NFL’s best strength of victory percentage (.534), meaning the teams they defeated had a higher winning percentage than the teams anyone else defeated. The Falcons played the NFL’s easiest schedule. The Seahawks had the NFL’s highest percentage of called running plays (49.8) this seeason. The Falcons had the seventh-lowest percentage of called runs (35.1).”
And finally, the staff over at NFL.com has their early preview of Sunday’s Seahawks-Falcons matchup in this short video.
LANDOVER, Md. – A recap of the Seahawks’ 24-14 victory over the Redskins in their NFC wild-card playoff game at FedExField on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ Beast Mode back had an all-over-the-map game that matched the effort of the team he led to the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983.
The Pro Bowl running back started slowly, with 5 yards on two carries in a first quarter Dominated – yes, with a capital D – by the Redskins. He warmed up a bit in the second quarter, scooping up a fumble by QB Russell Wilson and running for 20 yards on the drive towards the Seahawks’ first touchdown and contributing 14 yards to the half-ending drive that resulted in a field goal.
In the third quarter, Lynch had 26- and 15-yard runs in a drive that put the Seahawks on the front porch of the Redskins’ goal line, only to fumble at the 2-yard line. But in the fourth quarter, he had an 18-yard run in what proved to be the game-winning drive to his 27-yard touchdown run that made it 21-14 with seven minutes to play.
When all was said and run, Lynch had rushed for 132 yards (a franchise tying record for the postseason) on 20 carries, caught a 9-yard pass, turned one potentially disastrous play into a positive and atoned for another by pushing the Seahawks into next Sunday’s divisional-round matchup with the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta.
Of the fumble play, Wilson said, “The ball just came out funny on the (center) exchange. Marshawn had my back. He was right there, picked up the ball and had a huge gain. That was big for us. I think that was one of the biggest plays of the game, to be honest with you. For Marshawn to be able to pick that ball up in the situation that we were in, the way he played right there, that was big-time.”
Jon Ryan. When a calf injury Steven Hauschka got in the second quarter limited him to kicking field goals, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl-caliber punter added kickoff duty to his resume.
And Ryan didn’t just step in, he stepped up. And like the rest of the team, he got better as the game progressed. His first kickoff went 58 yards to the Redskins’ 7-yard line. The second went 63 yards to the Redskins’ 2. The third? A 69-yarder that went 4 yards into the end zone.
“Johnny Ryan really came through,” coach Pete Carroll said.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: It has to be the game-winner, as Lynch made his way into the right corner of the end zone in a pile of bodies – and with Wilson leading the way. These two were the focal points of the five-game winning streak to close the regular season, so it seems only fitting that they would be involved in the play that propelled the Seahawks to the next round of the playoffs.
“That’s not even his job,” fullback Michael Robinson said of the QB turning into a blocker. “Just awareness and football IQ allowed him to figure Marshawn was coming back. Great job by the quarterback.
“I hate to see him take hits. He’s like my little brother. I just hate to see it, but he’s a tough little man. And as he goes, we go.”
Offered Wilson, “Marshawn always tells me, ‘Russ, I got your back. No matter what, I got your back.’ So I just try to help him out every once in a while when he gets down field and I just try to make a play for him and help our football team win.”
Defense: Earl Thomas’ interception in the second quarter. The Redskins were up 14-10, so if the pass from Robert Griffin III had found its way into the hands of Pierre Garcon at the Seahawks’ 24-yard line, well, that scenario doesn’t need the what-if conclusion. Cornerback Brandon Browner, in his first game back after serving a four-game suspension, was all over the Redskins’ wide-out like a second jersey anyway. But Thomas’ playing-free-safety-like-a-centerfielder pick was just the kind of play the Seahawks needed at the point in the game.
“A lot of quarterbacks in this league like to play with me when I’m in the middle of the field,” the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl free safety said. “They know what we’re going to do, because they know we’re in single-safety high. A lot of quarterbacks try to look me off and do all that kind of stuff. But he didn’t have time to do all that. And I was able to make a great break on the ball and finish the play.”
Special teams: Wilson’s pass to tight end Zach Miller for a two-point conversion following Lynch’s fourth- quarter TD. OK, so maybe that’s an offensive play. But it took the place of a special teams play and the two-pointer gave the Seahawks a seven-point lead with seven minutes remaining.
“That was just a great throw by Russell,” Miller said. “He put it right on my body and I big-bodied the defender, just like we drew it up.”
804 homecoming: A special category for a special play, as Wilson passed 4 yards to Robinson for the Seahawks’ first TD. Each grew up in Richmond, Va., which is less than a two-hour drive from FedExField.
“Oh man, it was awesome – 804 threw it to me, 804 scored a touchdown,” Robinson said, using the Richmond area code. “It just feels good to know there were some people from Richmond out there in the crowd. It’s my first time playing this close to home. Love Richmond, and I’ll always love Richmond.”
Defensive end Chris Clemons is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury to his left knee he got in the third quarter. The Seahawks’ sack leader did not return to the game.
As he did 11 times during the regular season, rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks in tackles with nine.
Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin replaced Clemons when he went out and contributed a sack and a tipped pass to the Seahawks’ dominating defensive effort in the second half, when they limited the Redskins to 63 yards.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch also was a force for the Seahawks’ defense with a sack among his season-high five tackles and a QB hit.
The Redskins allowed an average of 95.8 rushing yards during the regular season to rank fifth in the league, but the Seahawks ran for 224 (a franchise record for the postseason) – 67 by Wilson, 22 by Robert Turbin and 3 by Robinson, in addition to the 132 by Lynch.
The Seahawks, who won one of their first six road games this season, now have a three-game road winning streak.
The Seahawks also have a three-game winning streak over the Redskins in the postseason, as they also eliminated Washington in 2005 and 2007 playoffs.
YOU DON’T SAY
“No, I don’t think that at all. Because I don’t really believe he was in anybody’s shadow.” – Carroll when asked if Wilson emerging as the only one of the three rookie QBs to start in the playoffs on Sunday had allowed him to step from the shadows of RGIII and the Colts’ Andrew Luck
A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 3:
Brandon Browner. The Seahawks’ right cornerback returned from his four-game suspension on Monday, practiced with the team for the first time in a month on Wednesday and today he fielded questions from the media at his cubicle in the locker room before practice.
“It’s really exciting,” Browner said. “I’m glad to be back out here with my team. Enjoying that.”
Browner returned to his offseason home in Southern California during his suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“I couldn’t find it in myself working out here,” he said. “I wasn’t coming up here (to VMAC). So it was weird to go to some park here.”
But Browner did watch the four games he missed – a 58-0 romp over the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field; a 50-17 victory over the Bills in Toronto; a 42-13 win over the 49ers in Seattle; and last week’s 20-13 victory over the Rams, also at CenturyLink Field.
“It was fun,” he said with a smile, “because we were kicking everybody’s butt. I missed not playing with the guys, but it was awesome to watch.”
Browner has returned just in time to experience the NFL postseason for the first time, as the Seahawks are preparing for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game against the Redskins at FedExField. He was on a Grey Cup-winning team with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL in 2008. But this is different because it’s the NFL.
“It’s very exciting,” Browner said. “That’s what you play for, to get to the playoffs and eventually, hopefully, the Super Bowl.”
And his thoughts on this latest first in his career that took a radical turn last year when he was signed to a future contract by the Seahawks in January, won the starting job during training camp and ended playing in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement after leading the team with six interceptions and 23 passes defensed?
“You don’t know yet until the game comes,” Browner said of the playoffs. “But I think we have a good game plan going into this and it will be a good matchup. I’ve got confidence in my team and my ability.”
Is Browner ready after sitting out a month?
“Most definitely,” he said. “It starts in the head, and I’m mentally tough. I know I’ll be a little tired out there, but at the end of the day I’m fighting for a playoff victory. So I’ll be all right.”
To help with the physical preparation, Browner got some reps today with the scout team that works against the Seahawks’ offense, as well as working with the No. 1 defense.
“It always takes a little bit of time to get back into it – the one-on-one’s, the coverage concepts,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “But he’s taking extra reps to get back on that.
“The mental part of it is all there. But the physical part, he’s getting sharp again. He’s looked pretty good.”
ANOTHER DAY IN THE SUNSHINE
The players practiced outside for the second consecutive day. It will help prepare them for the game against the Redskins, because the temperature along Lake Washington was 46 degrees and the forecast for Sunday in Landover, Md., is calling for a high of 49 and a low 39.
London Fletcher. We also featured the Redskins’ inside linebacker yesterday, but that was from the perspective of Washington coach Mike Shanahan. Today, we get Michael Robinson’s take on Fletcher, who is 37 and in his 15th NFL season.
These two ran into each other last season at CenturyLink Field, and Robinson puts Fletcher in the same class as the other great inside and middle linebackers he faced a season ago and this season – the Ravens’ Ray Lewis, 49ers’ Patrick Willis and Bears’ Brian Urlacher. And that is saying a lot.
“We spoke at the Pro Bowl last year. Good guy. Got a lot of love for him,” Robinson offered. “The old adage about London, if you don’t block him he’ll make every tackle. He’s one of those guys, he has a lot of big hogs up front and it’s hard to get on him. And he will make, literally, every single tackle if you don’t block him.
“So it’s a big, big challenge for us.”
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
CB Jeremy Lane (knee)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
An already encouraging injury report got even better today, when Lynch took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday – which has been his routine for much of the second half of the regular season. Lane was added to the list. He started the past three games for Browner.
For the Redskins:
Did not practice
CB Dominique Johnson (knee)
OG Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)
Limited in practice
S DeJon Gomes (knee)
LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder)
DE Stephen Bowen (biceps)
QB Kirk Cousins (illness)
LB London Fletcher (ankle)
WR Pierre Garcon (foot)
QB Robert Griffin III (knee)
CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow)
LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle)
C Will Montgomery (knee)
WR Josh Morgan (hand, foot)
S Jordan Pugh (ankle)
P Saverio Rocca (right knee)
S Madieu Williams (elbow)
Fletcher and Cousins practiced today after sitting out on Wednesday.
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks and Redskins don’t play that often, but there have been some memorable events during the series that the Redskins lead 11-4 during the regular season and the Seahawks lead 2-0 during the postseason. Here’s a look at some of the games that standout, and why:
1976: Redskins 31, Seahawks 7. First road loss in franchise history
1980: Seahawks 14, Redskins 0. Second road shutout in franchise history
1983: Redskins 27, Seahawks 17. Steve Largent catches eight passes for 130 yards and two TDs
1989: Redskins 29, Seahawks 0. Steve Largent’s final game
1992: Redskins 16, Seahawks 3. Loss No. 6 in a club-record eight-game losing streak
1994: Seahawks 28, Redskins 7. Chris Warren goes “home” and runs for 100 yards and two TDs
1995: Seahawks 27, Redskins 20. Chris Warren goes “home” again and runs for 136 yards
1998: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14. Steve Broussard returns a kickoff 90 yards for a TD
2002: Redskins 14, Seahawks 3. Bruce Smith beats Walter Jones for two sacks
2005: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17. Last loss before a club-record 11-game winning streak
2005: Seahawks 20, Redskins 10. Win in divisional playoff game sends Seahawks to NFC title game
2007: Seahawks 35, Redskins 14. Win in Wild Card game sends Seahawks to divisional round
2008: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17. Loss No. 4 in six-game losing streak
2011: Redskins 23, Seahawks 17. Only loss in a six-game stretch
The team will fly to Baltimore on Friday after the players hold a midday practice. Saturday’s walk-through will be held in the D.C. area.
Remember: Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, so the game will start at 1:30 p.m. on the West Coast.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Great football teams don’t shy away from success. We’ve been waiting on these moments our whole entire lives. I know for me, as an example, I’ve been waiting for this my whole entire life. I think with our football team, we’re determined to be successful; we’re determined to be great. And that mindset of staying focused on the positive, staying focused on the great opportunities that you have, staying focused on the now – one opportunity at a time, one play at a time; that mentality of just competing with that, I think that’s where you’re successful more times than not.” – quarterback Russell Wilson when asked if he and his team were comfortable with the level of success they’ve achieved
If you’re a fan of the Ravens, or just football in general, Sunday will be special for more than Baltimore’s current NFL team hosting Baltimore’s former NFL team in a wild-card playoff game.
Ray Lewis announced today that he will retire after the Ravens’ final game, saying “It is time for me to create a new legacy.” Sunday’s game against the Colts will be the first for Lewis since he tore his triceps two months ago – and could be his last in Baltimore.
The hard-hitting linebacker has been a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, seven-time All-Pro pick and twice was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But what he did on the field never could be measured in honors and statistics. Lewis is, quite simply, one of the few players in NFL history who altered the way his position is played – and the way opponents played in trying to deal with him.
Michael Robinson knows. In a Week 10 game against the Ravens at CenturyLink Field last season, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl fullback spent the afternoon slamming into Lewis to help pave the way for Marshawn Lynch to gain 109 of the hardest-earned yards you’ll ever see on a career-high 32 carries in the Seahawks’ 22-17 upset victory.
“That was the best linebacker to ever touch the game,” Lynch said a few days later. “Having those kinds of thoughts in your mind, like, ‘Ah, you know what, that might not be a battle that I want to take’ – but Mike Rob just took it upon himself.”
Lynch then cracked a slight smile before added, “I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I was looking at it on film and a couple of times I was like, ‘You know what Mike Rob, I probably wouldn’t have done that.’ But he did, and he wasn’t turning it down.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of him, and how thankful I am for what he did.”
Robinson’s take? “It was an honor to play against a guy like that,” he said. To know that he’s probably the best defensive player to ever play the game, it was just an honor to be on the field with him.”
That pretty much says it all, except for this: Enjoy, and apprecaite, Lewis while he’s still playing, because few have played the game as well.
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.