A recap of the day’s activities:
A playoff game. Or at least that kind of approach, and atmosphere.
That’s how the Seahawks are looking at Sunday’s matchup against the 11-2 Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field.
“If we do expect to make the playoffs, it’s going to be a team like this that we match up with,” middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu said today after practice.
If the Seahawks win the NFC West – they’re currently tied with the St. Louis Rams atop the division at 6-7 – they would host a first-round playoff game against the wild-card team with the best record. The Falcons have a one-game lead in the NFC South over the New Orleans Saints, and they play next Monday night in Atlanta. So the second-place team from the South could be headed to Qwest – if the Seahawks prevail.
“Definitely looking forward to the challenge, and it is going to be a challenge,” Tatupu said of Sunday’s game having that playoff feel and importance.
Coach Pete Carroll has been emphasizing that element.
“We talked about it all week: This is a playoff team, is what it is,” he said. “They come in here with all of the stats and the numbers and the players that would fit a terrific playoff opponent. So we’ve talked that way. We’ve prepared to take it on in that manner and take advantage of the opportunity of playing such a good team and knowing that we have to play so right because they do.
“We’re going to have to match it up and we’re going to have to put together a heckuva football game. It’s a good opportunity for us. You look at this one, this is like a playoff game that you have at home against a really good team coming in.”
Guard. Both of them. The Seahawks are shuffling their offensive line this week, but this time it’s by choice rather than necessitated because of injury. Chester Pitts is back in on the left side after missing the past three games with a sprained ankle. So Mike Gibson, who had been starting for Pitts, is moving to the right side to replace Stacy Andrews.
“We get the experience of Chester back in there. He’s played a lot of years. That helps us some,” Carroll said when asked about the moves. “Mike is still a young player for us. He’s done a nice job in the last couple of weeks, simulating into a starting role.
“We like to see the movement that they bring, too. Both those guys have good quickness. So we’ll see how it fits. We’re going to try it out and see what it looks like.”
The Seahawks had gone with the same starting unit the past three weeks – for the first time this season. With Gibson moving to right guard, it will be the ninth different combination they have used on the line.
ON THE FIELD
The players held their 40-minute walk-thru outside on a chilly, but gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. Carroll switched to this shorter, unpadded Friday workout the past three weeks.
“We’ve worked hard to try and keep our guys fresh,” he said. “We’ve been banged around and we haven’t had a lot of depth. Actually, going into this game if all the guys that are (listed as) probable show up it’s one of our stronger games in the last couple months, really.
“That’s a good feeling. As we come to finish time we’d like to have everybody available. It will give us our best chance.”
Wide receiver Deon Butler watched the workout from the sideline, on crutches. He had his right leg broken last Sunday while making a touchdown reception against the 49ers in San Francisco. Butler had surgery that night to place a steel rod in his leg. He did not return to Seattle until Thursday.
The official end-of-the-week status report, as released by the team:
WR Brandon Stokley (hamstring)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Roy Lewis (knee)
WR Mike Williams (ankle)
WR Ben Obomanu (hand)
QB Matt Hasselbeck (wrist)
DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
C Chris Spencer (shoulder)
K Olindo Mare (hamstring)
Williams and Obomanu completed the week of practice and are expected to play Sunday, after sitting out last week.
“Mike and Ben made it through this week and we’re looking forward to seeing those guy play,” Carroll of getting his starting duo back. “Ben will be all right, and we’ll make sure Mike is OK on game day.”
Stokley took part in the walk-thru after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. He also stayed out today to get some extra work, with Carroll, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and trainer Sam Ramsden watching his every step. “He looked good today,” Carroll said.
Lewis was limited in practice and will be a game-day decision.
For the Falcons:
LB Curtis Lofton (knee)
RB Jason Snelling (hamstring)
DE John Abraham (groin)
DT Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder)
OT Tyson Clabo (ankle)
LB Stephen Nicholas (knee)
WR Roddy White (knee)
LB Coy Wire (head)
All the players on the Falcons’ list practiced today before the team left for Seattle. The Falcons are planning a workout at Qwest on Saturday, weather permitting.
STAT DU JOUR
The Falcons’ Matt Ryan has been sacked 20 times this season, fourth fewest among the 15 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 400 passes. Those head of Ryan, who has thrown 475 passes, are the Giants’ Eli Manning (13 sacks in 438 attempts), the Colts’ Peyton Manning (14 in 569) and the Chargers’ Drew Brees (18 in 525).
The Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck has been sacked 28 times in 423 attempts. On the other end of the spectrum is the Redskins’ Donovan McNabb, with 37 sacks in 472 attempts.
BING TAILGATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Four teams will compete in a regional competition of the Bing National Tailgating Championship in the north parking lot at Qwest prior to Sunday’s game.
The Tailgating Institute of America is hosting the competition. The winner will be crowned depending on performance in four key categories: cooking, sports trivia, parking lot athletes and team spirit.
Regional competitions between four tailgating crews already have been held at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, Denver’s Invesco Field, the New Meadowlands Stadium, the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium and the Louisiana Superdome. The finals will be held Feb. 3 in Dallas.
The event at Qwest starts at 10:30 a.m.
YOU DON’T SAY
“When you’re playing like they’re playing, that epitomizes what you’re looking for in this league.” – Carroll on the Falcons