A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 17:
The obvious. It’s just that what’s obvious depends on who you’re talking to.
Obvious No. 1: The Seahawks are hosting the NFC West-leading 49ers on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field. After their impressive and then resilient performance in last night’s win over the Patriots in New England that pushed their record to 10-3-1, the 49ers can clinch the division title by beating the Seahawks; or the 9-5 Seahawks can keep their division-title hopes alive with a win over the 49ers.
Obvious No. 2: The Seahawks hold the No. 5 seed – or first wild-card spot – in the NFC playoff picture. But right behind them at 8-6 are the Bears, Giants, Cowboys and Vikings (The Redskins also are 8-6 but currently lead the NFC East). The Seahawks hold the tiebreaker against the Bears, Cowboys and Vikings because they beat each team this season. But the only way to insure making it to the postseason is to keep winning during the regular season.
Obvious No. 3: The Seahawks are one hot team, having won their past three games – two of them on the road – and in the past two weeks becoming the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games.
When each obvious item was broached during his weekly day-after Q&A session this afternoon, coach Pete Carroll smiled, and then offered his own version of the obvious.
“We ain’t done nothing yet,” he said when asked about the playoff patter. “When that happens, it happens. Every one of these games are championship matchups. Every one of them makes the statement that you’re still in it, or you’re finally in it and you get it.
“We’ve just got to go play this football game and play it really, really well. And if that’s the result, then that’s OK. We’ve got another game after that one, too. There’s still a lot of work to be done here. I don’t think it’s a factor, really. It shouldn’t be. We’ve got to go win a football game, regardless of whether there was something hanging out there or not.”
This attitude that each game is a championship game and the goal each week is to go 1-0 has served the Seahawks beyond well as they’ve won five of their past six games. But after Sunday’s 50-17 victory over the Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, several players said that Carroll’s championship-game approach really applied to this week’s game. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-7 in San Francisco in Week 7, so there’s payback as well as postseason positioning on the line for the rematch.
And Carroll knows there will be no extra motivational work to be done this week.
“All we can do is really focus on this game right here. We’ll have no trouble focusing,” he said. “They’re a great team. And coming home and all that, it will be exciting to get ready.”
After this week, the Seahawks will host the St. Louis Rams on the 30th, while the 49ers will close their regular season by hosting the Cardinals.
“Coming home, with the last two games here at the stadium, it’s a great opportunity for our fans and we want to really play well in this setting,” Carroll said. “It’s an exciting way to come down, finishing in the division. And it starts with San Francisco this weekend.”
The ankle that defensive tackle Alan Branch sprained against the Bills is not as serious as first anticipated.
“He came out way better than we thought,” Carroll said. “We’ll rest him, probably until Friday. We’re thinking he might have a chance to make it back. So that’s very encouraging, because we thought after the game he would not be able to do that. We’ll see how that goes.”
Carroll said he also has his fingers crossed that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant might be able to return this week. Trufant has missed the past three games and Thurmond sat out against the Bills – both with hamstring injuries.
Defensive lineman Jason Jones (sore knee) and leading receiver Sidney Rice (sore foot) also could be limited in practice this week.
PRACTICE SQUAD ROULETTE
Defensive end Monte Taylor has been signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei was released.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Taylor was signed by the Seahawks after the NFL Draft in April, but released in June and claimed off waivers by the Eagles.
STAT DU JOUR
Bobby Wagner had another game with double-digit tackles (12) against the Bills, his fifth of the season. In the past nine games, the rookie middle linebacker is averaging 10.3 tackles. With his first tackle in Sunday night’s game against the 49ers, Wagner will tie Keith Butler for the second-most tackles in a season by a Seahawks rookie. With 16 in the final two games, he will set a franchise record for most tackles by a rookie in a season. Here’s a look at where Wagner currently ranks:
Player (year) Tackles (solo/assists)
LB Terry Beeson (1977) 136 (110/26)
LB Keith Butler (1978) 122 (83/39)
LB Bobby Wagner (2012) 121 (77/44)
SS Kenny Easley (1981) 107 (79/28)
LB Lofa Tatupu (2005) 105 (86/19)
The players were “off” today for a “Victory Monday” and will have their usual “off” day on Tuesday. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for Sunday night’s game.
Center Max Under will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.
YOU DON’T SAY
“A perfect game for Russell Wilson, just the way Wilson wants to play – running a lot, playing option football, playing from the pocket. ‘Whatever we call, we know something good can happen with Russell right now,’ said coach Pete Carroll after the 50-17 rout of Buffalo in Toronto. Wilson rushed nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He completed 14 of 23 for 205 yards and a touchdown. Wilson’s been such a revelation that, week by week, it’s hard to fathom how good he’s become versus the image of what 90 percent of the NFL coaching and scouting community had of him before the draft.” – Peter King, in naming the Seahawks rookie QB as one of his offensive players of the week in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com
After three drafts and offseasons together, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have compiled a roster where their castoffs are inviting to other NFL teams – and long before the roster cut to 53 players in September.
Case in point: The last two players released by the Seahawks have been claimed by other teams.
Monday, tight end John Nalbone was waived to clear a spot on the 90-man roster for offensive lineman Edawn Coughman. Nalbone was claimed by the Cowboys. Friday, rookie defensive end Monte Taylor was waived to clear a roster spot for linebacker Kyle Knox. Taylor was claimed by the Eagles.
When Mike Holmgren took over as coach and GM in 1999, it took five or six seasons before he began cutting players that other teams found value in.
Kyle Knox, a rookie linebacker from Fresno State, was signed by the Seahawks today after completing a tryout at the team’s three-day minicamp on Thursday.
To clear a spot on the 90-man roster, rookie defensive end Monte Taylor was released. Taylor had been signed as a free agent after the NFL Draft, but his participation in the offseason program was limited because his class had yet to graduate. He rejoined the team for the minicamp and practiced on Tuesday, but then sat out Wednesday because of an injury and was limited on Thursday.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Knox worked at outside linebacker with the No. 3 defense during the minicamp practices. He started 37 games at Fresno State, producing 55 tackles last season and 74 in 2010.