A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 14:
A warm reception. When the Seahawks were leaving the airport after their return from Atlanta, and a 30-28 loss to the Falcons in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game, their buses were greeted by a crowd of several hundred cheering fans. When they reached VMAC, several hundred more were on hands and cheering just as wildly.
It might have been a Sunday evening with temperatures below freezing, but the warm reception helped the players deal with the disappointing loss.
“Speaking for myself, I play for the 12th Man,” wide receiver Golden Tate said today when the players were cleaning out their lockers. “That’s who I play for. I love them, and I hate that it had to end.”
That was part of the players’ amazement at the turnout. The Seahawks were returning from a season-ending defeat, not a victory that sent them to the NFC Championship game.
“To have the support we have from those guys, no matter what the outcome of the game, it’s awesome. I guarantee you there’s no other fan base that’s showing up at the facility in that weather after a loss with that type of support.
“The support we’ve gotten all season has been outstanding, and we appreciate it so much.”
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman seconded that notion.
“That meant a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to have those kinds of fans and to have that kind of support in this city. It makes you want to play hard. It lets you see that all your hard work is for something.
“It’s hard to explain that kind of feeling. It’s amazing. It’s the middle of the night. It’s 20-something degrees. They care about us as players, as a team. And we care about this city. It really leaves you speechless, because they’re nothing you can say to describe the feeling of that kind of support.”
The rookie class. The Seahawks stunned many of the “experts” with some of the players they selected in the NFL Draft last April. It started in the first round, when they took defensive end Bruce Irvin. It continued in the second round, when they drafted middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. It reached the hysterical level when they went for quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round.
Let’s see, Wilson passed for 26 touchdowns to tie the NFL rookie record set by Peyton Manning in 1998, among many other things; Wagner led the team in tackles during the regular season and postseason; and Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks during the regular season.
“We had a tremendous rookie class,” Wilson said. “Everybody said that this rookie class wouldn’t do anything and we’ve shown we can play. The goal is, we’ve got to prove it again next year.”
The NFL Network was at VMAC last week to tape this feature on the Seahawks’ rookie class which aired during its Sunday pregame show.
Zach Miller did indeed tear the plantar fascia in his left foot, as the veteran tight end said after Sunday’s game. He was on crutches and had his foot in a protective boot today.
Defensive end Chris Clemons, who tore a ligament in his left knee in last week’s wild-card playoff game against the Redskins, has yet to have his surgery. But he was scheduled to meet with specialist Dr. James Andrews this week.
“This has been an extraordinary year in terms of that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I mentioned to the team how fortunate we were to get out of this tear with really one major rehab.”
The Seahawks will have the 25th selection in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, and 10 picks overall.
“We’ve got 10 picks going into this draft, which is fantastic for us,” Carroll said. “I can’t imagine all the work that John (Schneider, the GM) is going to turn out with all those opportunities.”
STAT DU JOUR
Matt Hasselbeck and Dave Krieg hold pretty much every passing record for the Seahawks. But Sunday, Wilson did something in his second postseason game that Hasselbeck (11 starts) and Krieg (seven) didn’t in their combined 18 playoff starts – pass for more than 350 yards. Here’s a look at the top postseason passing-yard games in franchise history
Player, opponent (date) Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating
Russell Wilson, Falcons (Jan. 13, 2013) 36 24 385 2 1 109.1
Matt Hasselbeck, Rams (Jan. 8, 2005) 43 27 341 2 1 93.3
Matt Hasselbeck, Packers (Jan. 4, 2004) 45 25 305 0 1 67.4
Dave Krieg, Bengals (Dec. 31, 1988) 50 24 297 1 2 56.8
The offseason. The players took their exit physicals, had their exit meeting with Carroll and cleaned out their lockers today. The midseason program begins in mid-April.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The thing I said to the guys afterward was that 25 seconds didn’t define our team. … This has been a great year for us.” – Carroll on the Falcons driving to their game-winning field goal by completing passes of 22 and 19 yards
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 14 – one day after the Seahawks’ 30-28 divisional-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday’s game, “Twenty-five seconds. That’s how long Seattle’s defense — which allowed the fewest points in the league during the regular season — needed to hold on. Turned out 12 seconds was all the Falcons needed to complete two passes and put kicker Matt Bryant in position for the game-winning field goal that turned Seattle’s incredible comeback into ash. ‘We’re a real resilient young team,’ defensive tackle Red Bryant said. ‘We had our opportunities. Atlanta made some great plays, and was able to get the game-winning field goal.’ “
O’Neil highlights the play of Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “Russell Wilson completed his first 10 passes in the second half, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another. He threw for 385 yards, not only the most for a Seahawk in a playoff game but the most ever for an NFL rookie in the postseason. ‘He is an amazing football player,’ coach Pete Carroll said afterward. ‘He proved himself again and again. It is undeniable that you look at anything he did and put a star on it.’ ‘
O’Neil has his “2-minute drill“, naming Wilson, Seahawks tight end Zach Miller and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez his players of the game, “Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 385 yards, not only a career high and franchise playoff record, but also the most ever for a rookie quarterback in a playoff game. Seahawks tight end Zach Miller had not had more than 59 yards receiving in a game since joining Seattle. He had a career-high 142 yards against Atlanta despite playing with a torn plantar fascia suffered on the third play of the game. It was the second-most receiving yards by a Seahawk in a playoff game behind Darrell Jackson’s 143 in 2005.”
O’Neil and Larry Stone of the Seattle Times share their game notebook, “He [Zach Miller] suffered a torn plantar fascia on the third play, and was taken to the locker room where he had a painkilling shot. Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards, both game-highs. It was nothing short of remarkable, not just because of his injury, but because he had never had more than 59 yards in any game as a Seahawk. That receiving total was a career-high for Miller, who played four seasons with the Raiders before signing with Seattle last year. ‘It was nice to get some balls like that,’ Miller said. ‘But I’m disappointed that we didn’t win when we were so close. If there is any solace, I don’t feel it right now.’ Miller’s receiving total was one yard off Darrell Jackson’s franchise record for receiving yards in a playoff game.”
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says while this playoff loss hurts, the future for the club is bright, “Eventually the pain will subside and this young team will begin to remember all of the good from this season. And, as they gather for offseason workouts and begin the long preparations for next September, they will look back on this 11-win year and tell themselves this was just the start of something big. ‘Next year will be my ninth,’ Hill said, about a half-hour after Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal, ‘and it’s been a fun ride. You don’t get many teams as good as this. And it’s only the beginning, man. A lot of young guys, a lot of pieces in place around here. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to shake.’ Look around this locker-room-in-mourning and all you see are possibilities. ‘We felt like this was our year,’ fullback Michael Robinson said, ‘and we’ll feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we won’t lack for confidence and we’re going to come to fight you. We need to bring as many of these players back as possible and keep our core group together.’ “
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has his take on yesterday’s Seahawks loss, “Here’s the thing about the Seahawks, though: Despite their blunders, despite a run defense that allowed 167 rushing yards to a poor running team, despite trailing 27-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, they refused to break. And they nearly pulled off their greatest comeback victory ever. Wilson led them, throwing for 385 yards (an NFL postseason record for a rookie quarterback) and two touchdowns. Tight end Zach Miller, who had eight receptions for 142 yards, caught a touchdown pass during the rally. Lynch, who was held to 46 rushing yards, still did his part, plunging into the end zone from two yards out as the Seahawks took a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. Their fight was remarkable.”
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at Wilson’s performance, “Wilson engineered what should have been the biggest comeback in playoff history in the Georgia Dome on Sunday, giving the Hawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play in the game. As he has been in this record-setting season, Wilson again was a clear-eyed, cold-blooded quarterbacking machine, who passed for 385 yards, and ran for 60 more. And if the guy is to be downgraded for anything it’s only that he’s a bit of a procrastinator. That, and the fact that he hasn’t figured out a way to get on the field with the defense on the final drive. The Seahawks have seen the improbable out of Wilson for so long, they’ve exhausted their amazement, so the Falcons were kind enough to supply some. ‘He’s got the ‘it’ factor, man,’ said Atlanta safety William Moore. ‘You can’t control a guy like that. That dude is going to be a big problem for defenses in the league. He can do it all — he can run, he can throw, and he has the moxie you like to see in good quarterbacks. He was truly a game-changer.’ “
Boling also comments on the play of Miller, “Miller has been one of the ultimate “team” players, having sacrificed the attention of catching passes last season while the Seahawks needed him to stay on the line to help with shaky protection last season. But his efforts have been highly visible this season. ‘He had a fantastic football game,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He got hurt early in the game and he stuck in there an finished it. The guy was all over the place. He did well catching the ball and making plays. It was his day today and Russell found him all day long.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game recap, “Matt Bryant’s late-game theatrics overshadowed another masterful performance by Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who rallied his team just like he’s done all season. The Seahawks fell behind for a second straight week, this time trailing 20-0 at halftime — the team’s largest deficit of the season. But Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said there was no panic from his players at halftime. ‘I can’t imagine that anybody expected that we were going to have a chance to get back into that game, except for the guys in that locker room,’ he said. ‘And they knew we were going to have a chance to get back into that game. They felt it the whole time.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his thoughts on yesterday’s divisional playoff, “What went down in the fourth quarter was nothing short of an amazing comeback. Wilson was spectacular, passing for a Seahawks playoff record 385 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 60 yards and another score. But that emotional roller coaster just wasn’t necessary. If the Seahawks didn’t have two empty trips to the red zone in the first half, if Marshawn Lynch hadn’t fumbled, if the defense hadn’t put on one of its worst displays of tackling of the season, the Seahawks could have been in a position to win comfortably. ‘We just didn’t play well in the first half,’ Seattle tight end Zach Miller told reporters. ‘We had some drives but we didn’t get points out of them. Obviously that came back to haunt us. I thought that we played really well in the second half and put us in a position to win, but it didn’t happen.’ “
Boyle also breaks down Sunday’s game by the numbers, “4—Losses on the road this season in which Seattle’s defense gave up a fourth-quarter lead late in the game (at Arizona, at Detroit, at Miami and Sunday in Atlanta). 2—Empty trips into the red zone for the Seahawks in the first half, points they desperately could have used by the end of the game. 0—Punts by the Falcons in the first three quarters, though Matt Ryan was intercepted twice before the Seahawks forced a punt. 0—Sacks by the Seahawks, who clearly missed defensive end Chris Clemons. A blitz by Marcus Trufant produced the only hit on Matt Ryan all afternoon.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says the Seahawks missed defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend against the Washington Redskins, “Matt Ryan, with seemingly endless amounts of time in the pocket, finished 24 of 35 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those picks came when the Seahawks brought defensive backs Marcus Trufant and Winston Guy off the left edge. That was one way Seattle tried to manufacture a pass rush in the absence of pressure from its defensive line. ‘We felt like we had to to get pressure,’ Carroll said of the more blitz-heavy approach. ‘Even all the way down to the end.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has reaction from Wilson, “The whipsaw brought a devastating end to a brilliant season that was within reach of the Super Bowl. Wilson had a splendid second half, finishing with a club-playoff-record 385 yards, two passing TDs and one on the ground. Yet after the win, he was almost as remarkable with his response to defeat. Instead of moping, Wilson simply refused to give in, demonstrating why the team has fallen for a rookie they all came to cherish. ‘When the game was over, I was very disappointed, but when I got to the tunnel, walking off, I got so excited for the opportunity next year,’ he said. What? The kid just had a metaphorical arrow shot through his heart, and he already pulled it out. ‘I told (QB position coach Carl Smith) afterward, ‘I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to the off-season and work and work and work . . . to get to the next season and play.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his reaction following Sunday’s Seahawks-Falcons matchup, “What it means: The Seahawks lost a heartbreaker after their fourth-quarter pass defense faltered once again, a recurring theme for Seattle. The Seahawks had taken a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds remaining. But they couldn’t stop the Falcons from moving quickly into position for the winning field goal with eight seconds left. The team will have to address that aspect of its performance in the offseason.”
Sando has a chart showing the 2013 NFL Draft order, and after yesterday’s loss to the Falcons it can be deciphered that the Seahawks will hold the No. 25 overall pick.
Sando also says Wilson is the least of the team’s worries, “Wilson totaled 435 yards passing in three Seattle defeats through Week 7. He had rookie postseason record 385 in a single season-ending defeat Sunday, playing well enough to give his team its only lead with 31 seconds remaining. Yardage isn’t always a reliable measure of quarterback performance, but the contrast was irresistible and wholly reflective in this case. Wilson went from having little positive impact during early season defeats to giving Seattle its best chance to win. Some of that had to do with the coaching staff trusting Wilson with more of the playbook.”
And Peter King of SI.com has his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, pinning the Seahawks as the League’s 5th-best team, “5. Seattle (12-6). Welcome to the playoffs, Mr. Wilson. See you back soon, and often. The game is better with you in it.”
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 – “Seahawks Blue Friday” – January 11.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Seahawks general manager John Schneider, “As much as coach Pete Carroll has molded this team on the field, Schneider is the one responsible for picking out the raw materials, whether it’s finding a top-shelf pass rusher like Chris Clemons on the nether regions of another team’s roster or picking a potential franchise quarterback like Russell Wilson in the third round. It’s Schneider who reports to owner Paul Allen when 2010 fourth-round pick E.J. Wilson doesn’t work out and Schneider and the scouts who have steered the Seahawks to starter after starter in the draft. ‘I owe so much to John Schneider and what he’s done,’ Carroll said last week. ‘He’s been extraordinary in supporting me, and allowing me to do the things that I want to do and how we want to do it with players that complement it in always a competitive, active approach to what everyone is doing.’ “
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has a look at Russell Wilson’s competitiveness as a lead blocker, “Sometimes Wilson blocking for the Seahawks has made good sense tactically, Carroll added. Coming off a read option, the quarterback is often in a “crucial spot” during the play to make a difference. Part of it, also, is Wilson’s competitiveness. ‘Every play for him, he plays it to the end,’ said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The key? Just use your head. ‘Which I don’t have to remind him,’ Carroll said. ‘He knows. He really does have a sense for it and he’s not going to bloody his nose laying somebody out. He’s going to try and make a block though and make a difference.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Seahawks will look to improve in the red zone this week against the Falcons, “During the regular season, the Seahawks were No. 2 in red-zone efficiency (second to only Houston), finishing 51 of 54 inside the 20-yard line (94.4), including 31 touchdowns and 20 field goals. The Seahawks were one of two NFL teams not to commit a turnover in that span. However, things changed in Seattle’s first playoff game at Washington. The Seahawks finished 1 of 6 inside Washington’s 20-yard line, settling for three Steven Hauschka field goals. Marshawn Lynch also lost a fumble near Washington’s goal line, and Wilson almost threw an interception on a pass intended for Doug Baldwin. ‘We believe it’s critical every week and we didn’t do a good enough job last week in the red zone,’ Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ‘We got down there a lot, but we weren’t able to convert them into touchdowns. That’s a focal point each and every week. We need to focus that we’re turning those into seven points, which really helps our defense. If we can get teams behind, obviously any team’s defense is going to be able to play better when they’re in the lead. So we need to keep working there.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald previews the matchup between Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, “Football, perhaps more than any sport, can come down to a chess match between coaches; to one team exploiting another team’s weakness; to neutralizing another team’s strength. But sometimes, football at its best is a one-on-one battle where the outcome of a play, or maybe even a game, comes down to which player does his job better at a given moment. And if ever there was potential for some exciting mano-a-mano matchups, it would be in Sunday’s playoff matchup between Atlanta and Seattle when two of the NFL’s biggest, most-physical corners line up across from two of the league’s most productive receivers, who aren’t exactly known for shying away from physical play. ‘What a matchup this week is, wow,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘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, and our guys are going to try and play really good football — just like we always do — and not change anything. They’re so good, so it’s going to be an interesting aspect of this game.’ “
Boyle also passes along Thursday’s injury report for both the Seahawks and Falcons, noting running back Marshawn Lynch sat out practice again with a foot injury, “For the second day in a row, the Seahawks practiced without running back Marshawn Lynch, who is listed with a foot injury. Pete Carroll did not mention Lynch when asked Wednesday about injuries from Sunday’s game, so there’s a good chance the injury is not serious, but we should know a lot more Friday.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing for 710Sports.com, asks which team would you rather be right now, the Seahawks or Falcons? “Which team would you rather be? The Falcons are 13-3 but lost twice in December and haven’t won a game since Dec. 22. They lost their last game of the year at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team they tried to beat by leaving their starters in for most of the game. Atlanta’s high-powered offense managed just 278 yards and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter that day. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have put together one of the most impressive runs not only in franchise history, but NFL history. They outscored opponents 193-60 in December and, unlike the Falcons, put up some impressive numbers during that stretch.”
Brock Huard of 710Sports.com passes along his latest “Chalk Talk“, breaking down Marshawn Lynch’s 27-yard touchdown run in last Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights the matchup between the Seahawks corners and Falcons wideouts, “Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game between Seattle and Atlanta will feature a fascinating matchup between Sherman and fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and the Falcons’ receiving duo of White and Jones. It’s the big, physical cornerbacks of the Seahawks, who because of their skills allow Seattle’s defense to be unique, against the big, physical and fast star receivers of the Falcons who make the offense go. ‘I expect our guys to try to play like they always play. They don’t need to change anything because we’re not doing anything different, we’re going to try and hang with them, and we’ll find out what happens,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘This is probably the best pair and pair that you could match up, and because of the size, and because of their physical nature in the way that they play, it’s going to be really exciting to see.’ “
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” to talk about the divisional round game between the Seahawks and Falcons, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday, “WR Julio Jones, WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez present some potential match-up problems for Seattle. Only the group of WR Miles Austin, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten seem to rival the group threat presented by the Falcons. But don’t expect the Seahawks to change how they do things defensively. Seattle has made their way by playing physical press coverage on the outsides with a speedy S Earl Thomas to cover the deep middle of the field. They intend to run their defense the same way they have all season. ‘We have to stay to our principles,’ CB Richard Sherman said. ‘They have a really intricate offense and they use their players well. They know exactly how to use everyone and get the most our of them but going away from yourself in the playoffs, you’re shooting yourself in the head. This is what got us here. We have to play our style. That’s what got us here and you live by your style, you die by your style. That’s what we’re going to do.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along his predictions for the playoff games this weekend, “Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Atlanta was going to be my pick here once the Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a season-ending knee injury. Seattle is traveling across the country in consecutive weeks. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Seahawks also drew the dreaded 10 a.m. PT kickoff. The Seahawks are the more well-rounded team, however. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are a tough combination to beat right now. Count me in for an all-NFC West championship game, but hedge your bets. It could be wishful thinking unless Wilson and the passing game are sharper this week. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20.”
Sando also questions the strength of the Seahawks defense if the game is close late in the fourth quarter, “Those following Seattle all season know the details. Others should consider the following while analyzing a defense that nonetheless led the NFL in points allowed for 2012:
- The Detroit Lions converted three times on third down against Seattle during their drive to the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in Week 8.
- The St. Louis Rams converted on third-and-10 and third-and-13 against Seattle while driving to a fourth-quarter field goal during a 19-13 victory in Week 4.
- The Miami Dolphins completed an 18-yard pass on third-and-7 during their drive to the tying fourth-quarter touchdown against Seattle before prevailing on a last-second field goal in Week 12.
I’ve singled out late-game collapses on third-down in these road games. Seattle was arguably a defensive stop away from winning at least two of those games.”
Peter King of SI.com has his playoff picks in, and he picks the Seahawks to top the Falcons, 17-13, “Most significant NFL Wednesday injury report line: ‘ATL – DE John Abraham (ankle), limited.’ He’d better not be limited Sunday, two weeks after what looked to be worse than the apparently nasty ankle sprain Abraham suffered in the last game of the season. Not quite sure why, with Seattle missing its best pass rusher (Chris Clemons, torn ACL on the FedEx cow pasture last week) and Abraham likely not at full health, I pick only 30 points to be scored here. I think both secondaries will play stout and smart, and the physicality of the Seattle back four (or five, or six) will have a big impact on the game.”
And in the spirit of “Seahawks Blue Friday”, we leave you with a Seahawks rally that took place yesterday at King St. Bar & Oven in downtown Seattle:
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.”
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
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 19.
The club made a roster move yesterday afternoon, releasing tight end Evan Moore and promoting rookie tight end Sean McGrath from the practice squad to the active roster.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes why Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson deserves the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award, “Wilson, unlike the other rookies, wasn’t granted the luxury of time. His future was now. He had early games against Dallas, Green Bay and New England. If he wasn’t ready, if he made even the usual amount of rookie mistakes, the Seahawks could have been buried early and the call for Flynn would come swiftly and loudly from the sellout crowds at CenturyLink. But the Hawks won all three. Wilson has surpassed — I suspect even Carroll’s — most optimistic expectations. And, with two games left in the regular season, I believe he should be NFL Rookie of the Year. Wilson had to win. And he has. He had to get better. And, oh my, has he. He has run the Seahawks like a 10-year veteran. He has dodged blitzes and escaped pass rushers like no quarterback since the Minnesota Vikings’ Fran Tarkenton in the 1970s.”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune highlights the relationship between Wilson and wide receiver Sidney Rice, “In the past seven games, Rice has 27 receptions for 422 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the big-play threat the Seahawks were looking for when they signed him to a lucrative deal as an unrestricted agent during the 2010 offseason. Wilson has developed a better rapport with Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller and the rest of Seattle’s receiving threats, throwing more passes in rhythm and doing a better job of anticipating when players are coming out of their breaks. ‘Things have slowed down for him some,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. ‘He’s much more comfortable with situational football — red zone, he’s better at because he has had repetition running the offense. Third downs, he has been more consistent lately. I think he’s way more comfortable throwing the ball to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Zach Miller primarily, with Anthony McCoy getting in there as well. I just think he’s better and more comfortable.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Seahawks fans have the right to dream big, “This is a team, after all, that is hitting its stride at the right time, and momentum has often proven to be more important than seeding in the NFL playoffs. After starting the year as a team hoping to win with defense and a running game, the Seahawks are suddenly dangerous on offense. One of the lowest scoring teams in the league early on, the Seahawks now rank 11th in scoring at 25 points per game, a scoring average they haven’t bettered since 2005. Buoyed by back-to-back blowouts, Seattle now has a plus-131 point differential this season, a total that trails just New England, San Francisco and Denver. And even if the Seahawks can’t take over first place on Sunday, they can with one more victory clinch a playoff berth as well as their first 10-win season since 2007. But as much as the Seahawks have done to change people’s opinions of them while winning five of their past six, nobody is patting themselves on the back just yet. ‘We ain’t done nothing yet,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘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 and you get it. We just have to go play this football game, and play it really, really well.’ “
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com notes that San Francisco 49ers second-year linebacker Aldon Smith, who has 19.5 sacks through Week 15, is the latest challenge facing the Seahawks pass protectors, “San Francisco’s defense ranks second in yardage and first in scoring. It has playmakers and Pro Bowlers at every level, but it’s the guys up front that seem to generate the most fear. ‘Really, their front seven is I think definitely the best in the league. They’ve shown it,’ Seahawks tight end Zach Miller told ‘Bob and Groz’ on Monday. “They have a great defense with those two linebackers, [NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis], and then you’ve got Aldon Smith coming off the edge and Justin Smith in the middle there. There’s some challenges we’re going to have, but I like what we’ve been doing lately.’ What the Seahawks have been doing lately – aside from scoring at least 50 points in their last two games – is protecting their quarterback much better than they did a season ago. Seattle allowed 50 sacks last season, the fourth-most in the NFL. That number is 26 through 14 games this season, tied for eighth-fewest.”
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com has a look at why the Seahawks’ zone-read offense has been so successful under Wilson in this short video.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “MVP Watch” putting running back Marshawn Lynch at No. 7 and Wilson at No. 9 on his list of 10 candidates, “Lynch trails only Peterson in rushing yards this season. He has 21 carries for 241 yards over his past two games. The four other backs with at least 200 yards over that span have needed between 42 and 55 carries to get their yardage. That includes Peterson (55-366), Knowshon Moreno (54-237), Alfred Morris (50-216) and Arian Foster (42-211). Lynch has eight games with at least 100 yards this season. He has four additional games with at least 85 yards. He also ranks tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with 10. … A strong performance in victory against the 49ers might be enough for Wilson to overtake Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as the perceived leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. Wilson was the only one of the three to appear in MVP Watch this week for three primary reasons. One, Luck has slipped a bit lately and is coming off a defeat. Two, an injury forced Griffin to watch from the sideline while Kirk Cousins led Washington to victory in Week 15. Griffin’s injury status is affecting his candidacy. Three, Wilson has been sensational. He leads the NFL in Total QBR (85.1) and ranks second to Rodgers in passer rating (106.7) over the past 10 weeks.”
Sando also has a look at NFC West QBR ranks from Week 15, “Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (99.2 QBR, 104.4 NFL rating). Wilson completed 14 of 23 passes (60.9 percent) for 205 yards with one touchdown, zero interceptions, two sacks and 10 passing first downs. He carried nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns, with five first downs rushing. He had no fumbles. The Bills sacked Wilson on the first play of the game. They had a hard time getting a hand on him most of the day, however. The Bills did not touch Wilson on any of the quarterback’s nine rushes. Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch continued to play off one another effectively on option runs.”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has a recap of “Tuesday in Hawkville” with a focus on rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, who has gained the confidence and trust of the coaching staff with his recent play.
Farnsworth has his first look at the San Francisco 49ers, who are 5-0 in primetime games this season and will face a Seahawks team on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field that is 6-0 at home.
Farnsworth also recaps a surprise visit from Wilson to Skyline High School quarterback Max Browne, who was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year yesterday, “Browne’s selection as National Player of the Year shouldn’t come as a surprise, despite the stiffest of competition, because he was awesome during his senior season. He led the Spartans to a 14-0 record, capped by the victory in the state title game. He passed for 4,526 yards and 49 touchdowns while completing 277 of 377 passes and throwing only five interceptions. During his career with the Spartans, Browne set the state record with 882 completions, which led to 12,947 yards. But there’s more to Browne than just impressive stats and overwhelming victories. He has a 3.5 GPA and volunteers for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and Generation Joy. Sound familiar? Browne shared the stage on Tuesday with another QB who’s too good to be true – on and off the field. ‘He’s just a tremendous person, first of all,’ Wilson said. ‘He has a great attitude, a great personality. He works so hard. Max is a tremendous football player and Gatorade found the best football player in the country. Max does a tremendous job in the three pillars of what Gatorade does in terms of naming a National Player of the Year. Athletically, obviously he’s very good. But academically he’s carried a 3.5 his whole career in high school. And then to do what he does in the community, and put so many smiles on so many faces, is really unbelievable.’ “
TORONTO – A recap of the Seahawks’ 50-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Russell Wilson. Like last week’s 58-0 shellacking of the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field, this could be a full squad selection because so many players made contributions and everyone got to play. But what the rookie QB did was special.
Wilson became the first QB in franchise history to rush for three touchdowns in a game – on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He threw for a fourth – on a 4-yard pass to tight end Zach Miller. He carried nine times for 92 yards, giving him 402 for the season to break the club record of 343 by Rick Mirer in 1993. His 10.2-yard rushing average was the third-best in franchise history behind the efforts of Marshawn Lynch in the past two games – 11.6 against the Cardinals last week and 11.3 against the Bills on Sunday.
He also completed 14 of 23 passes for 205 yards and did not throw an interception, which made for a passer rating of 104.4.
All in a day’s work as the kid QB continues to grow in the offense, and allow the offense to grow because of him.
“You saw him out there,” said right tackle Breno Giacomini, who more than did his part by holding Mario Williams to no sacks and one QB hit after the Bills defensive end entered the game with 10.5 sacks. “He’s getting better by the week. His preparation is there. He just keeps getting better and we just keep getting better with him.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: It wasn’t a touchdown run, but Lynch’s 54-yarder in the second quarter to setup Wilson’s TD pass to Miller definitely proved a point. It was the Bills who made Lynch the 12th pick overall in 2007 NFL Draft. It was the Bills who traded Lynch to the Seahawks in 2010 for next-to-nothing. On that run, as on just about all of Lynch’s runs, he showed his strength, determination and more speed and shiftiness than anyone gives him credit for.
It also allowed Lynch to finish with 113 yards on just 10 carries, for his eighth 100-yard rushing performance of the season.
Defense: Earl Thomas didn’t just make a diving interception of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass in the third quarter, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl free safety returned it 57 yards for a touchdown. And it was another of those uh-plays, where Thomas’ speed makes it appear that everyone else on the field has stopped running because he is running so fast.
“It was a great feeling,” Thomas said of his third interception of the season. “As soon as I caught the ball, I was thinking end zone – especially this season. I could have had eight or nine picks this season. But this was just a great play, gave our defense a lift and kept the momentum on our side.”
Special teams: The Seahawks had practiced a fake punt during the week and called it on Sunday, despite leading 47-17 at the time. The snap from Clint Gresham went to Chris Maragos, rather than punter Jon Ryan. Maragos handed the ball off to Michael Robinson, who ran 29 yards to the Bills’ 14-yard line.
Coach Pete Carroll explained that they were just trying to pick up a first down, and apologized if it looked like they were kicking the Bills when they already were down. But the play did slap an exclamation point on the 17-yard, 88-yard drive that allowed the Seahawks to hold the ball for more than nine minutes of the fourth quarter and setup Steven Hauschka’s third field goal of the day.
Turning point: It might sound crazy to say there was a turning point in this game. But after the Bills had scored 10 points in the final 70 seconds of the first half to cut the Seahawks lead to 31-17, Stevie Johnson made a leaping one-handed grab of a pass from Fitzpatrick on the third play of the third quarter – a third-and-20 play, no less – for a 25-yard gain and a first down at the Buffalo 39. But on the next play, linebacker K.J. Wright picked Fitzpatrick and returned the interception 24 yards to setup Lynch’s TD that pushed the Seahawks lead to 37-17.
“We knew we just had to come out and stop them,” Wright said. “Somebody had to do something, and fortunately I was able to come up with the turnover.”
Defensive tackle Alan Branch sprained an ankle and Carroll said he wasn’t sure how severe the injury was. Other than that, the postgame report included nothing more than bumps and bruises.
The Seahawks became the NFL’s third team to score 50 points in consecutive weeks, joining the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, who both did it in 1950, according to STATS Inc. And the 108 combined points over two weeks matched the NFL’s third-highest total. The New England also scored 108 points in consecutive games last month.
With 2.5 sacks, Chris Clemons upped his season total to a career-high 11.5 – half a sack more than he produced in each of his first two seasons with the Seahawks. It also made the Leo end the first Seahawk to have double-digit sacks in three consecutive seasons since Michael Sinclair (1996-98).
Rookie Jeremy Lane made his first NFL start at right cornerback for Walter Thurmond, who injured a hamstring in practice Wednesday. Lane was all over Fitzpatrick’s long – and incomplete – throw to T.J. Graham on the Bills’ first pass play of the game and finished with three tackles.
While Wilson continued to make his case for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner continued to do the same for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He had a game-high 12 tackles, the fifth time this season he has posted double digits.
The Seahawks had three plays for 40-plus yards – Lynch’s run, as well as Wilson’s 44-yard pass to Golden Tate and a 41-yarder to Sidney Rice. The 44-yarder came after Wilson pitched the ball to Lynch, who threw the ball back to Wilson, who then completed the pass to Tate.
Despite the lopsided score, the Bills had a 100-yard receiver (Johnson with 115 on eight receptions) and a 100-yard rusher (C.J. Spiller with 103). They also had only one less first down (21) than the Seahawks (22).
Hauschka had another busy week, with three field goals, six PATs (one was blocked) and 10 kickoffs. Last week against the Cardinals, he had 21 kicks.
YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL-EXPOSURE EDITION
“I watched a lot of tape and it was probably the most physical game I’ve watched all year.” – former Pro Bowl safety Rodney Harrison, on the pregame show for Sunday night’s 49ers-Patriots game, discussing the Seahawks-49ers game in Week 7
YOU DON’T SAY, LOCKER-ROOM EDITION
“I’ve never been a part of something where two weeks in a row we’re able to put up so many points.” – Miller on the back-to-back 58-0 and 50-17 victories, the first time since 1950 that an NFL team has done that
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 13.
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times notes wide receiver Sidney Rice is dealing with a bruised foot, “Receiver Sidney Rice was in a walking boot Wednesday dealing with a bruised foot, apparently suffered in Sunday’s home win against Arizona, and cornerback Walter Thurmond wasn’t able to complete a full practice due to an unspecified hamstring injury. Coach Pete Carroll said the team didn’t know about Rice’s injury until after the weekend and that the receiver’s status is in doubt for Sunday. ‘He’s improved quite a bit since game day, in the last couple days, but he’s got a pretty sore foot, so we don’t know,” Carroll said. “He’s got the X-rays and MRIs and all of that, and the findings are nothing that would keep him from playing. He just has to get back; he feels very sore right now.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune highlights running back Marshawn Lynch, as he prepares to face his former team – the Buffalo Bills – this weekend, “Fullback Michael Robinson pointed to Lynch’s bow-legged gait as the reason for his running prowess. ‘He’s not pigeon-toed, but he’s bow-legged a little bit,’ Robinson said. ‘And guys that are bow-legged seem to have better balance as they’re cutting – their cuts are a lot sharper. He looks like a little pit bull out there running,’ Robinson said. ‘He’s always balanced. He runs bigger than he looks. And he runs faster than he looks, too.’ But it’s Lynch’s relentless effort that’s infectious for the rest of the team. ‘It makes us play harder, knowing he’s going to break a couple tackles on a run,’ Seattle center Max Unger said. ‘If we can get up there and get some people off of him, he’s going to go for extra yards.’ Whether Lynch will have extra motivation facing his old team is unknown, but Robinson is expecting the same, all-out effort from his backfield mate. ‘That’s just the type of guy he is,’ Robinson said. ‘And you need guys like that on your team. You don’t want guys thinking too much. Who’s next, let’s go play and move on.’ “
Williams also shares the Seahawks and Bills injury reports from Wednesday here.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune details the contributions of tight end Zach Miller, “Miller came out of Arizona State as a first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference player and first-team All-Academic player – after having been a 4.0 student in high school in Phoenix. Coach Pete Carroll cited Miller as “savvy,” which is probably a better description of intelligence as it’s applied to on-the-hoof football IQ. ‘He allows us to do so many little intricate things,’ Carroll said. ‘Reading things at the line of scrimmage, adjusting the motions and stuff; that gives us a nice multiplicity. And he’s really, really tough at the point of attack. He’s also catching the ball terrifically and running his routes down the field. He’s just the complete football player.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald also highlights Lynch’s impact heading into the club’s matchup with his former team, “Dating back to Week 9 of last season, no running back in the NFL has more rushing yards than Lynch’s 2,207, and this year his 1,266 yards ranks second in the league to Adrian Peterson. Lynch has been so consistent, so dependable, that it’s almost easy to take for granted what he has done this season despite the fact that he is averaging a career-high 4.9 yards per carry. Lynch’s impact is hard to overstate, especially as the Seahawks head to Toronto needing a win over Lynch’s former team to keep their playoff push going. ‘It just jumps off the tape,’ fullback Michael Robinson said. ‘Teams know when they play against us, they have to deal with ’24.’ That’s just the way it’s set up. Watching him run, he makes you want to strain, he makes you want to go harder. He’s just a great symbol for what this team is trying to stand for.’ “
With the news of Rice’s bruised foot, Dave Grosby and Bob Stelton of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss the Seahawks situation at wide receiver in this short video.
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com shares his thoughts on the Seahawks beginning to earn some national respect in this short video.
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday’s practice, “Carroll said that WR Charly Martin will jump into Rice’s role and they will rotate their other receivers through as well if he is not able to play against the Bills. LB Leroy Hill returned to full participation in practice Wednesday after not playing the last two weeks with an ankle injury. However, he was splitting reps with LB Malcolm Smith, who started in Hill’s place the last two weeks. Carroll called it a “competitive situation” for who would start this week against Buffalo.”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has a look at the youth of the Seahawks roster, “Reliance on youth is also helpful with payroll, allowing the Seahawks more room under the cap to sign WR Sidney Rice, TE Zach Miller, QB Matt Flynn and DLs Alan Branch and Jason Jones, the only unrestricted veteran free agents on the roster. ‘We’re a really young team like we had in college days,’ Carroll said. ‘I think what sets us apart right now is that we’re a very athletic team that also has a really good feeling about each other. They’re tight and close. We have a very cohesive group. That’s been very consistent. It’s an exciting group that we’re bringing up.’ “
Mike Sando of ESPN.com recaps injury situations around the NFC West, and offers up a few notes on the Seahawks, “Seattle held out receiver Sidney Rice (foot), cornerback Marcus Trufant (hamstring), safety Kam Chancellor (groin) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot) missed practice Wednesday. The team continues to list running back Marshawn Lynch (back) as limited despite every expectation he’ll be able to play. Cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) was a surprise addition to the injured list Wednesday. He’s had injury problems in the past. Durability is a concern. Depth at corner isn’t as strong with Brandon Browner serving a suspension and Trufant sidelined recently. Seattle is no longer listing linebacker Leroy Hill (ankle). Malcolm Smith could wind up keeping the job.”
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the players get back to work after receiving Monday and Tuesday off.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar captured 18 frames from the club’s “Competition Wednesday” practice, which you can view here.