It is May 4th and as appropriate on this day, dare we say … May the 4th be with you! To spell it out for the percentage of us born after the rest of us discovered (for the second time) that Anakin Skywalker was, in fact (SPOILER ALERT), Darth Vader, this phrase is a play on words to the Jedi credo (not to be confused with Greedo – RIP): “May the force be with you” as made popular by the Star Wars films.
That all being said, Happy Star Wars Day, 12s!
Don’t believe that this is a galaxy-wide holiday for most of us (except for maybe the Empire as evidenced in this attack ad)? Find out more information at the official website of Star Wars Day: http://maythe4th.starwars.com
If it isn’t already obvious, we here at Seahawks.com are Red Bryant-sized fans of all five episodes (we’re still trying to erase the memory of that Binks character from Episode I). And we’re not alone in our nerdom…
And then there’s this photo essay from NFL.com likening NFL players to Star Wars characters …
So, in the spirit of this galactic holiday, we created the graphic at the top of this page to help 12s celebrate with us on Instagram. But like the elder Skywalker, (and apparently the NFL) once we started down this dark path we simply couldn’t help ourselves …
How many of these 12 references can you guess? Perfect 12 equals Jedi Master:
To end as all episodes end…
Kicker Steven Hauschka, who became an unrestricted free agent last month, has re-signed with the Seahawks, the team announced today.
In two seasons with the team, Hauschka has scored 227 points by converting 49 of 57 field goals (86 percent) and 80 of 82 PATs. Last season, he was perfect on 23 field-goal attempts from 49 yards or closer and also had a 52-yarder. Two of his three misses came from 61 and 51 yards, while a 50-yarder was blocked.
Hauschka, 27, joined the team in 2011, when he was claimed after being waived by the Broncos on their final roster cut – and kicking a 51-yard field in Denver’s 23-20 preseason victory over the Seahawks.
During that first season with the Seahawks, Hauschka kicked a field goal in each of the final 12 games to tie the franchise consecutive-streak record that was set by Todd Peterson in 1997-98. He also had a club record-tying five field goals in a 22-17 upset of the Ravens.
Last season, Hauschka ran his streak of consecutive games with at least one field goal to a franchise record 14 before not attempting one in the Week 3 upset of the Packers.
Hauschka was placed on injured reserve in January after injuring a calf muscle in the wild-card playoff victory over the Redskins, so he did not participate in the divisional-round loss to the Falcons the following week.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 16.
Meg Wochnick of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps a Russell Wilson visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Wilson met with 17-year-old cancer patient David Padilla, a senior baseball standout at Timberline High School, “Wilson, less than 48 hours removed from Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC divisional playoff game, spent almost an hour talking with Padilla and also autographing a handful of items for him, including a football and a photo. ‘He was busy,’ said Kari Padilla, David’s mother. They talked about everything from Padilla’s battle with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, to their love of baseball.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the Seahawks defense and the struggles they had closing out several games this season, “You can’t say that Seattle’s defense was bad this year. The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the league. They went two straight road games without allowing the opposing offense to score a touchdown, and they weren’t entirely unable to finish out games. The Patriots got the ball back with more than twice as much time as Atlanta had Sunday, and the Seahawks closed Tom Brady and his New England teammates out in four plays. Seattle had strong second-half showings against Minnesota and Buffalo, too. But those four blown saves were enough to constitute a trend that is fairly alarming. It wasn’t just that Seattle allowed points late, but the shockingly improbable ways it found to cough up the lead. … ‘I’m not worried about figuring it out,’ Carroll said. ‘It’s just a snap here or there, but it did happen this year. You can’t ignore that.’ “
O’Neil passes along a transcript of his “Hawk Talk” chat here.
O’Neil also comments on the future of quarterback Matt Flynn, “…while you could make a case that Flynn is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the entire league, he might not be the best backup quarterback for Seattle. He is a quarterback whose biggest asset is timing and anticipation while Wilson is someone with a plus-arm by NFL standards and exceptional mobility. In that regard, Seattle might be better finding a backup quarterback who is capable of running some of the option plays Seattle has as opposed to a more accomplished passer like Flynn. Carroll was asked, specifically, if it was important to find a backup with traits similar to Wilson’s. ‘It’s a good point and we’ve talked a lot about that,’ Carroll said. ‘It would be nice to have another guy who might be able to be a factor in that way. There’s some really good kids out there. We’ll see.’ “
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss whether or not opposing defenses will catch up to the Seahawks’ use of the read-option with quarterback Russell Wilson in this short video.
Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” discuss who on the defensive side of the football can match Wilson’s level of leadership in this short video.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who coached Russell Wilson in his one season at Wisconsin, chats with 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” on what the future holds for the young quarterback.
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has a close look at five key players who will be unrestricted free agents this offseason, including defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Leroy Hill, cornerback Marcus Trufant, kicker Steven Hauschka, and defensive tackle Jason Jones.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “silver linings” from Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Atlanta Falcons, “Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 24 of 36 passes for 385 yards and two touchdowns. He also had seven rushing attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown. Wilson set an NFL rookie record for passing yardage in a playoff game. He became the first player in NFL history with at least 385 yards passing and 60 yards rushing in a postseason game. Wilson’s performance established him even more firmly as a franchise quarterback and one of the best young players in the NFL.”
Sando also has a look at Wilson’s potential path to the Pro Bowl next weekend in Honolulu, Hawaii, “Aaron Rodgers’ withdrawal from the Pro Bowl moves Seattle Seahwaks rookie Russell Wilson one step closer to playing in the game. Wilson was the third alternate for the annual all-star game. Rodgers, Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan were the three quarterbacks named to the NFC roster. Griffin is already out while recovering from knee surgery. Ryan would be out if his Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl. Drew Brees was named to the game as the first alternate. Eli Manning was the second alternate. Wilson would be named to the NFC roster if Ryan were in the Super Bowl or if one of the other alternates skipped the game.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has released his first mock draft of 2013 and has the Seahawks selecting 6-foot-3, 358-pound defensive tackle John Jenkins out of Georgia with the No. 25 pick in the first round, “Analysis: John Schneider and Pete Carroll showed great instincts in the 2012 draft, adding players they felt could help them immediately, even as analysts (myself included) questioned slot value. The defense was very good this past season, but I think an interior defender who can occupy blockers, occasionally penetrate and even wreck the pocket from the inside is a need. Jenkins was a little uneven at times in 2012, but has the upside of an impact interior lineman.”
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.”
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 9:
The new guys. That would be kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who were signed today to replace the injured duo of Steven Hauschka and Chris Clemons.
That these two are joining the Seahawks as they’re preparing for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta only heightens the storybook nature of their returns to the NFL. Longwell last kicked in league in 2011 for the Vikings, while Chukwurah hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2007 with the Buccaneers.
Longwell is here because Hauschka strained a calf in the wild-card win over the Redskins on Sunday and would not have been able to kick off against the Falcons. Chukwurah was signed because Clemons will need surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus he tore in his left knee in that game. Each was signed after going through a workout on Tuesday, and Hauschka and Clemons were placed on injured reserve to clear roster spots.
For Longwell, it’s a homecoming. He was born in Seattle, grew up in Puyallup and fondly remembers going to Seahawks game at the Kingdome with his grandfather – before his family moved to Bend, Ore., when he was in the ninth grade.
“It’s an awesome opportunity and I feel really blessed to be here,” said Longwell, who also kicked for the Packers (1997-2005) before joining the Vikings in 2006. “It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching.”
What had Longwell be up to? “To be dead honest with you, my wife was probably the happiest person that I got called into work,” he said. “Because we were actually training all fall for the Disney Marathon this Sunday. Got her out of that, and got me out of it, too.”
For the Nigerian-born Chukwurah, he figured a return to the NFL was out of the question after he had played two seasons in the UFL and was out of the football the past three seasons.
“It’s pretty much one of those stories you don’t think will ever happen,” said Chukwurah, who had played for the Vikings (2001-02) and Broncos (2003-06) before going to the Bucs. “I was at home, working from home, and I just got a call from my agent and he was like, ‘Hey, you want to go to Seattle and play for a couple of weeks?’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re not serious.’
“So I just came here with the mindset if this this is going to be my last shot, just to give it all I’ve got and leave it out there.”
Longwell will handle all the kicking chores against the Falcons, but coach Pete Carroll said he wasn’t sure what Chukwurah’s role would be on Sunday. In addition to playing defensive end, he’s also a special teams player.
Whatever comes his way, Chukwurah plans to be prepared as well as ready.
“To me, it’s a blessing,” he said. “I never would have thought this would happen. The fact that it’s happened, and it’s happened so fast, you’ve got to take it in stride and just be grateful that you get an opportunity and make the best of it.”
Tony Gonzalez. What more can be said about the most-productive tight end in NFL history? In his 16th NFL season, and fourth with the Falcons, Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.
Falcons coach Mike Smith got his turn to sing the praises of Gonzalez today during a conference-call interview.
“Tony has beaten father time,” Smith said. “To watch this guy, at his age (36), perform how he has performed this year and the three previous years, he’s been a great mentor to all of our young guys on our team. Not just the offensive players.
“Tony has got an outstanding work ethic. Probably nobody works harder than he does in taking care of his body and working on the fine points of the skillset that it takes to play the tight end position. And I think that’s the thing that most of our guys have taken from Tony. He’s one of the first guys out there, and he’s going to make sure that he’s catching balls. And now everybody is out there catching balls early and in between drills. Defensive linemen are out there early hitting the sled. And I think a lot of that has to do with watching Tony Gonzalez and the success that he’s had.”
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)
CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)
That’s it. Everyone else participated in the session that was held in the indoor practice facility. And Lynch, Johnson and Maxwell sat out to rest injuries that have sidelined them at times during practice in previous weeks.
For the Falcons:
Did not practice
CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)
S Charles Mitchell (calf)
S William Moore (hamstring)
DE John Abraham (ankle)
CB Dunta Robinson (head)
The Falcons used their bye week to self-scout practice, but also to heal up.
“I think it was good for our guys,” quarterback Matt Ryan said during a conference-call interview. “Every team has guys that are nicked up at this point of the year. For us to get a chance to get those guys some rest and to get them a little bit healthier is good for us. I think one of the good things that Coach Smith does, that he did this past week, was we were in here the entire week. We were working and staying in that rhythm and I think that’s helped us.”
PARCTICE SQUAD MOVE
Defensive tackle Myles Wade was signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga was released.
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound Wade, a rookie from Portland State, was with the Buccaneers during training camp.
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks already have faced four players who finished among the Top 5 in the NFL in receptions. Now comes the Falcons’ trio of Gonzalez (No. 9) and wide receivers Roddy White (tied for 10th) and Julio Jones (tied for 18th). Here’s a look at how the other top-ranked receivers did against the Seahawks, their season totals and their averages against the rest of the league:
Calvin Johnson, Lions
Season 122 1,964
Vs. Seahawks 3 46
Avg. vs. rest of NFL 7.9 127.9
Brandon Marshall, Bears
Season 118 1,508
Vs. Seahawks 10 165
Avg. vs. rest of NFL 7.2 89.5
Wes Welker, Patriots
Season 118 1,354
Vs. Seahawks 10 138
Avg. vs. rest of NFL 7.2 81.1
Jason Witten, Cowboys
Season 110 1,039
Vs. Seahawks 4 58
Avg. vs. rest of NFL 7.1 65.4
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.
YOU DON’T SAY
“He’s playing his style. Has he crossed the line? I don’t think so. He’s hanging on that line at times. But that’s who he is. Our guys respect Richard Sherman. They know whatever he might put out there he can back up. And he’s done that.” – Carroll when asked about the second-year cornerback “crossing the line” with his physical style of play
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 9.
Kicker Steven Hauschka has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a calf injury in the Seahawks’ Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins. To replace Hauschka the club has signed veteran kicker Ryan Longwell, age 38, who last kicked for the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.
Defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a torn ACL last Sunday against the Redskins, has also been placed on injured reserve. In Clemons’ place, the club has signed defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who last played in the NFL in 2007 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and spent two seasons after in the UFL, leading the league in sacks.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the Seahawks’ physical nature, “…if you’re surprised by the way Seattle is playing, well, you haven’t been paying attention to how this Seahawks team is constructed nor how it has played. Bigger and badder might as well be this team’s motto, for better and — far less frequently — for worse. Sunday, the Seahawks faced a team that Carroll said targeted specific players with the intention of provoking a reaction. ‘They go after individual guys,’ Carroll said of Washington’s approach. ‘And they have guys that are really pressing the edge, which is fine. Our guys responded and matched it up, and did the right thing. No penalties, no issues. No runs, no hits, no errors.’ And absolutely no apologies.”
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks’ success has made Seattle relevant again in the sports world, “The Hawks’ wild-card win over Washington on Sunday was the most-watched television program on any network since NBC’s Olympic coverage. According to Nielsen Media Research, 38.1 million people watched. In the Seattle area, 76 percent of the televisions on were tuned to the game, a larger audience than last year’s Super Bowl. From KJR to the water cooler, the air is crackling with chatter about the Seahawks. From the pulpit to ESPN you hear praises sung for Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner. This team believes, truly believes, in itself. And the city believes with it. Hawks players believe in the notion of the next man up, whether it’s Frank Omiyale filling in for Russell Okung at tackle, or cornerback Jeremy Lane replacing Brandon Browner.”
John Boyle the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have truly bought in to head coach Pete Carroll’s approach, “When a team learns to actually treat every week like a championship week, consistency comes with that and those blowouts go away. That’s why two years after losing 10 times by double digits, the Seahawks’ five losses this year came by a combined 24 points. When players truly buy into the idea that it’s all about the finish, they can overcome a 13-point deficit against New England or a 14-point deficit in a road playoff game. ‘It just shows how much confidence we have in our ability and the resolve in our team to fight the whole game,’ tight end Zach Miller said by phone after his team’s comeback in Washington. ‘We know games aren’t won in the first quarter or the first half, they’re won all the way in the fourth quarter.’ “
Boyle also notes that the Seahawks are not going to take the Atlanta Falcons lightly, “…even if the Seahawks are suddenly the ‘it’ team in the NFL, they aren’t buying the talk that the Falcons are vulnerable. Yes, the pressure is on Atlanta, which is 0-3 in the postseason in the last four years, and yes, the Seahawks are playing incredibly well (warnings aside, I’m leaning towards picking Seattle), but this game no doubt represents a big challenge for the Seahawks. ‘We have tremendous respect for the Atlanta team,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘Mike Smith has done a great job with this club for a number of years. They have been on their game and on the top of the league for some time now with really good efficient play, good defense, good running game, good throwing game, highlighted players all over the place, and a real good discipline about their style of play. So it’s going to be a fantastic challenge for us.’ “
Brady Henderson of 710 Sports.com writes how defensive end Chris Clemons’ season-ending injury impacts the club’s pass rush, “…Irvin would transition from a situational pass rusher to the weakside defensive end, a every-down position in which Clemons has thrived. Less clear is which player would assume Irvin’s role. Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks, seeing most of his playing time in passing situations opposite Clemons. Fellow rookie Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick, is one option. Scruggs had two sacks and six tackles in 11 games. Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times and 710 ESPN Seattle discussed this issue when he joined “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday. O’Neil thinks replacing Irvin is the bigger concern. ‘I don’t think the drop-off between Clemons and Irvin is as significant as what it does to your depth,’ he said.” 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard and Mike Salk discuss the topic further in this short video.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights running back Marshawn Lynch’s playoff performance, “Seattle needed all of Lynch’s 132 yards rushing, and especially his 27-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, to dispatch the Redskins. His sidestep cut that left Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall grasping at air allowed him to get to the outside on the touchdown run and was another sign of Lynch’s shiftiness, which sometimes gets lost because of his brute power. Lynch’s performance on Sunday tied the franchise record for most yards rushing in a playoff game and bettered what he did against the Saints by 1 yard. He rushed for 99 yards in the second half and overcame a costly fumble at the Washington 1 on the first drive of the second half that could have shaken others. Not Lynch. ‘You don’t ever have to worry about his mindset,’ Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said after the game. ‘He got to the sideline, he was upset about it, and he just said, `Give it to me again. Keep feeding me.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “NFC West penalty watch“, which also includes a note on the Seahawks’ divisional-round opponent – the Atlanta Falcons, “The Seahawks’ divisional-round playoff opponent, Atlanta, incurred a league-low 68 penalties this season, counting declined ones. But even the Falcons suffered more penalties for illegal contact (two) than the Seahawks incurred during the regular season.”
Former Packers and Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell was signed by the Seahawks this morning to replace Steven Hauschka, who was placed on injured reserve after straining a calf muscle in Sunday’s wild-card playoff victory over the Redskins.
Longwell, 38, has not kicked in the league this season, so his first action since kicking for the Vikings in 2011 will come in the Seahawks’ divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta. He was signed after being one of four kickers to work out for the team on Tuesday.
He has kicked in the postseason before – with the Packers in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004; and the Vikings in 2008 and 2009. During the regular season, Longwell made 83.2 percent of his field-goal attempts (361 of 434) in nine seasons with the Packers and six seasons with the Vikings.
Hauschka strained a calf muscle in the second quarter against the Redskins, but still managed to kick 29- and 22-yard field goals after the injury. Punter Jon Ryan had to handle to kickoffs, however.
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
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 Seahawks’ 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at CenturyLink Field:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Russell Wilson. All the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback did in this one was run for the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play and also throw his 26th touchdown pass to tie the NFL rookie record that Peyton Manning set in 1998.
So once again, he runs away with Player of the Game honors.
Oh, and he also completed 15 of 19 passes for 250 yards in fashioning a 136.3 passer rating for the game, which upped his rating for the season to a cool 100.0.
Oh, part 2, and he also became the first rookie QB in league history to lead his team to an unbeaten record at home (8-0).
But tying any record set by Manning is enough to set any QB apart in any game and on any given Sunday.
“It’s such a blessing, because the guy is so great,” Wilson said, stepping out his team-always-comes-first character for just a moment. “To tie that record is really something special. It’s a tribute to my faith in God and all the things he’s put me through. And also my football team and what they’ve done.”
Now that’s more Wilson-esque, and he added, “The football team has really sparked throughout the whole entire season, the coaching staff has done a really great job of preparing me and it’s a whole team effort. And we did a great job this season.”
As for his game-winning TD run, Wilson said, “I just extended the play. The offensive line did a great job of giving me enough time to make a play.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Wilson’s game-winner, of course. But we just covered that. So let’s go with Golden Tate’s pair of huge plays on the 10-play, 90-yard drive to Wilson’s 1-yard run. First, Tate recovered a fumble by Marshawn Lynch on the second play. Three plays later, on third-and-5, he gave the drive new life again by going up and over Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson for a 44-yard catch at the Rams’ 29-yard line.
But Tate shared the credit for the long completion with Wilson.
“That’s one thing that we know, with any given moment our quarterback can break a tackle and he can also run round,” Tate said. “He broke that tackle and guys thought he was about to run, so I turned up field and he made a perfect throw where no one could get it but me. I caught it and just made a play. I’m thankful for the opportunity to help this team win.”
Defense: The Rams were not done until Sam Bradford’s final pass of the game. He already had completed 25 of 41 for 252 yards. But pass No. 42 found its way into the hands of cornerback Richard Sherman at the Seahawks’ goal line with 33 seconds left in the game.
“I was probably a little late,” Bradford said. “(Austin Pettis) popped and I was going to give him a chance to go make a play.”
Instead, it was Sherman who made the play, intercepting his eighth pass of the season.
Special teams: Let’s go with Steven Hauschka’s 43-yard field goal, because they were the first points on the board in the second quarter after a scoreless first quarter.
None were reported for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the league, and the 245 yielded also set a franchise record – breaking the 261 allowed by the 1991 team.
With his eighth interception, Sherman tied for second in the NFL and recorded the most picks by a Seahawk since free safety Darryl Williams led the AFC with eight in 1997.
Lynch became the third back in franchise history to rush for more than 1,500 yards, and his total of 1,590 is topped only by the 1,880 Shaun Alexander had in 2005 and Alexander’s 1,696 in 2004. Lynch also had his 10th 100-yard rushing performance of the season, which is second in franchise history to the 11 that Alexander had in ’05.
The Seahawks closed the season with a five-game winning streak for the second time, tying the mark set in 1986. And they finished 8-0 at home for only the third time, joining the 2003 and 2005 teams.
The 11-5 record is the third-best in club history behind the 2005 team (13-3) and the 1984 team (12-4).
Four of the Seahawks’ victories came over other teams that also have advanced to the playoffs – the Packers, Patriots, Vikings and 49ers.
Sunday’s win over the Rams allowed the Seahawks to beat the other three NFC West teams at home in the final four weeks of the season after losing to each on the road in the first seven weeks of the season.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s the type of game we needed. You say that, but then you hate to be in close games. But it is definitely a game that we needed. We need to feel the pressure. We need to feel like we had to come back and just keep persevering. This game showed the type of character we have in this locker room.” – fullback Michael Robinson