Patrick Chukwurah signed; Chris Clemons to IR

Patrick Chukwurah, Jovan Haye

Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah was signed by the Seahawks this morning to fill the roster spot that opened when sack-leader Chris Clemons was placed on injured reserve because of a knee injury he got in Sunday’s wild-card playoff victory over the Redskins.

Chukwurah, 33, last played in the NFL with the Buccaneers in 2007, when defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and defensive line coach Todd Wash also were in Tampa. He had nine career sacks in six-plus seasons with the Vikings (2001-04), who selected him in the fifth round of 2001 NFL Draft; the Broncos (2004-06), when he had a career-high 4.5 sacks in 2006; and Bucs. Chukwurah then spent two seasons playing in the UFL with the Florida Tuskers. He has been a personal trainer since then.

Clemons tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee during the third quarter against the Redskins and will need surgery to repair the damage. First-round draft choice Bruce Irvin will start at the Leo end spot in this week’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta.


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Tuesday cyber surfing: Seahawks putting misconceptions to rest

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 8.

Russell Wilson

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are putting several misconceptions about their play to rest, “Seattle is not built to come back from big deficits. This is a logical assumption given the Seahawks’ propensity for running the ball. Seattle rushed on 55 percent of its plays during the regular season, the highest percentage in the league. And for all Wilson’s success, he has yet to throw for more than 300 yards in a game. Doesn’t sound like a team that can play catch-up, does it? There’s also not much of a sample size in that regard, as Seattle scored first in 13 of its 16 regular-season games. But Sunday was the third time this season Seattle found itself down by double digits, and the second consecutive time it came back to win. The Seahawks trailed the Patriots by 13 points in the fourth quarter and scored two touchdowns in the final nine minutes to win in October. At Washington, the Seahawks were more methodical, running their way back into the game.”

O’Neil also notes defensive end Chris Clemons, who led the club in sacks during the regular season with 11.5, is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL and meniscus, “Rookie Bruce Irvin will start at defensive end, a spot he is suited for. The real question is depth behind him. Irvin had eight sacks in the regular season, most among all NFL rookies. No other Seahawk had more than three. Rookie Greg Scruggs could also see time as a reserve, and Carroll did not rule out the possibility Seattle would sign another pass rusher.”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are defined by their toughness more than anything else, “They aim to take every football game to a physical and mental brink. Can the opponent go there? Or rather, will the opponent go there? This season, the answer has often determined whether the game will be a competition or an endurance challenge that only suits the Seahawks’ stamina. It’s not about deception. The Seahawks have advanced to the NFC divisional playoff round in the most transparent fashion of any team in the NFL. Their schemes are simple. Their game plans are detailed, but not complicated. Their ingenuity lies in the way they use their personnel and their flexibility to look behind prototypes and put players in the best positions to succeed. But the Seahawks have few tricks. They’re coming straight at you, at maximum speed, again and again and again. Can you match it? Will you match it?”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the Seahawks’ Wild Card win over the Redskins by the numbers, “24—unanswered points scored by the Seahawks after falling behind. 74—yards gained by Washington in the final three quarters. The Redskins had 129 yards of offense after their first two possessions, then never got the ball past midfield the rest of the day. 27—the length of Marshawn Lynch’s fourth-quarter touchdown run that put Seattle ahead for good. As impressive as that run was (DeAngelo Hall is probably still picking grass out of his facemask after whiffing at Lynch on the play) it wasn’t Lynch’s best effort in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.. 6.6—Marshawn Lynch’s average yards per carry (he had 132 yards on 20 carries), marking the fourth time in five games Lynch has averaged better than 5.5 per carry. He has also gone over 100 yards in five straight games and nine of his last 11 games.”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press writes that the Seahawks were finally able to solve their road playoff woes, “The 14-point hole was the largest deficit overcome in Seahawks playoff history and the largest of any game this season. Wilson directed Seattle back from a 23-10 fourth-quarter deficit to beat New England 24-23 in Week 6. Being down 14 in the first quarter seemed easy compared to that. ‘I think people take notice we’ve put together a lot of games together,’ Carroll said. ‘When you look at our schedule you can misread the schedule a little bit if you just look at the W’s and the L’s. We’ve played really good solid football for a long time. It hasn’t just sprung up at the end of the season.’ ”

Mike Salk of 710Sports.com shares his thoughts on where the Seahawks would be without the read-option offense in this short video.

ESPN.com divisional bloggers Mike Sando (NFC West) and Pat Yasinskas (NFC South) discuss Sunday’s divisional round playoff matchup between the Seahawks and Falcons, “Sando: The Seahawks are playing without the burden of expectations. They are very good at quarterback, running back and in the secondary. The read option has added an unconventional element to their offense. Still, winning a 10 a.m. PT game on the road against a very good offensive team will be tough. The Seahawks have started slowly in their past two games. I think they’ll have a harder time if that happens again. Along those lines, have the Falcons been able to jump on teams early at home and finish them off? One memory I have is watching Arizona pick off Ryan five times. Yasinskas: The Arizona game was the only time in Ryan’s life (including college, high school and youth league) that he’s thrown five interceptions in a game. That was a fluke. Some of those balls were tipped. Ryan generally is very efficient. And starting fast is one of the trademarks of Ryan and the Falcons. Since Ryan entered the league in 2008, the Falcons have scored more points on their first offensive drives than any team in the NFL. They pride themselves on starting fast, and they’re particularly good at that in the Georgia Dome.”

ESPN.com Insider Field Yates breaks down whether or not the Seahawks have what it takes to win on the road in Atlanta. The article requires an ESPN Insider subscription, but here’s a snippet: “By the numbers, these teams mirrored each other in the passing game during the regular season: Atlanta had the sixth-best passing offense, while Seattle had the sixth-best passing defense. Among the remaining playoff teams, Atlanta had the third-best passing offense in 2012, and Seattle the third-best passing defense. It’s a true strength-versus-strength tilt, with Atlanta’s explosive downfield passing game giving Seattle perhaps its toughest test since October.”


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Monday in Hawkville: Calf injury leaves Steven Hauschka’s status in question for Sunday’s game

A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 7:

Steven Hauschka

FOCUS ON

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

UP NEXT

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


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Game at a glance: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14

Marshawn Lynch

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.”

UNSUNG HERO

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.”

INJURY REPORT

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.

WORTH NOTING

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


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Monday in Hawkville: Pete Carroll connects reality of finale to fun of playoffs

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 31:

Pete Carroll

FOCUS ON

Reality ball and fun. Coach Pete Carroll used both terms today when discussing the Seahawks’ 20-13 victory over the Rams in their regular-season finale on Sunday and their playoff game this week against the Redskins at FedExField.

First, the Rams’ game, which was a return to reality for the Seahawks after they had won by 58, 33 and 29 points in their previous three games: “It was a game that was good for us, in that it was hard and tough and we were behind and had to work our way back. I think that was good after the games that we’ve had, to get back to real football – reality ball, how it can be.”

And how it was, as well. Five of the Seahawks’ first seven victories came by two points (Packers), four points (at the Panthers), one point (Patriots), 10 points (Vikings) and six points in overtime (at the Bears). They also beat the Cowboys by 20 and the Jets by 21.

The win over the Rams didn’t come until quarterback Russell Wilson capped a 90-yard drive by scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:39 to play and cornerback Richard Sherman intercepted Sam Bradford’s fourth-down pass at the goal line with 33 seconds left.

“That’s high odds going against you,” Carroll said of the late scoring drive. “But we got great play. Guys executed beautifully at that time. The quarterback did a great job, made a couple big plays scrambling and running.

“And we scored early enough to give the defense a chance to do their thing, as well. And it was good to see that because we’ve had some issues at times. I think the thing that was exciting for us is that we kind of expected to pull this thing off here at the end.”

Now, the fun that is the reward from winning their final five regular-season games and seven of their past eight to reach the playoffs: “It’s more fun, because of where you are and the focus and all that. There will be a feel about the playoffs, there’s always kind of that air about it. You can sense it. It’s different.

“But the key is not allowing that to factor into what it really takes to prepare well, and not miss the message. They’ll be excited to play and everybody’s going to have great focus this week, just because it is the playoffs. But that’s something we’re trying to create on a regular basis, so when we get to this time we’ve already ‘been-there/done-that.’ ”

The Seahawks advanced to the playoffs in 2010, their first season under Carroll, and knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in a wild-card game in Seattle. They then lost to the Bears in Chicago in the divisional round.

So this Seahawks team is looking to do something no Seahawks team has done since 1983: Win a playoff game on the road.

“It’s about consistency when you get into this opportunity,” Carroll said. “You’ve got to bring what you’ve got. Don’t show up without your stuff on that day. We know how to do that. Now we have to see if we can bring it to life and not get distracted by the fact it’s the playoffs.”

BROWNER RETURNS

Cornerback Brandon Browner returned to the Seahawks today from his four-game suspension.

To clear a roster spot, cornerback Walter Thurmond was placed on injured reserve. Thurmond injured a hamstring in practice earlier this month and has missed the past three games.

“We couldn’t get him over the hump on it,” Carroll said. “He kind of re-tweaked it again last week, and that means it’s going to be a couple of weeks again.”

Browner, an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season who was added to the NFC squad as an injury replacement, started the first 12 games on the right side.

“He’s worked out real hard. His weight’s in good shape,” Carroll said. “He’s still fast and all that. He’s going to have fresh legs. But we’ve got to see how he does. Unfortunately, we have guys that can play. If he’s not quite right or he doesn’t get off to a good start during the week, we’ve got other guys who can play for him.

“But we’re going to give him a heckuva chance to play. We’re thrilled to get him back. We’ll see what happens.”

The club also signed rookie defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga and cornerback Ron Parker to its practice squad.

Meatoga was with the Raiders earlier this season. He fills the spot that opened when linebacker Allen Bradford was signed to the 53-man roster on Friday. With Parker being added, wide receiver Corbin Louks was released. Parker was with the team in training camp, released on the roster cut to 75 players and then signed to the 53-man roster off the Panthers’ practice squad Dec. 5 before being released last Friday.

SIX SEAHAWKS FINISH AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS

Leon Washington finished second in the league and led the NFC in kickoff return average (29.0).

Sherman tied for second in the league in interceptions (eight) and led the team with 24 passes defensed; while Chris Clemons tied for ninth in sacks (11.5) and Bruce Irvin led all rookies in sacks (eight).

Marshawn Lynch slipped to third in the league is rushing when Redskins rookie Alfred Morris ran for 200 yards on Sunday night. Lynch finished the regular season with 1,590 yards, while Morris had 1,613. The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson led the league with 2,097. Lynch also was fourth in total yards (1,786) behind Peterson (2,314), the Titans’ Chris Johnson (1,964) and Bucs’ Doug Martin (1,926); tied for sixth in first downs (79); and tied for seventh in scoring among non-kickers (72 points).

Wilson was fourth in the league in passer rating (100.0) behind the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (108.0), Broncos’ Peyton Manning (105.8) and Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (102.4); fifth in fourth-quarter passer rating (102.7); fifth in third-down passer rating (96.2); and eighth in completion percentage (.641).

Jon Ryan was ninth in net punting average (40.8) and tied for seventh in punts inside the 20 (30).

As a team, the Seahawks ranked No. 3 in rushing offense, No. 4 in total defense, No. 6 in passing defense and No. 10 in rushing defense. The offense was No. 17 overall and No. 27 in passing offense. They also were plus-13 in turnover differential, which tied for fifth in the league.

Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles with a franchise rookie-record 140, while linebacker K.J. Wright (96) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (91) finished 2-3. Heath Farwell led the team with 15 special teams tackles.

KING VOTES WILSON, WAGNER FOR ROOKIES OF THE YEAR

Peter King at SI.com has a vote for the NFL awards given each year by the Associated Press, and he tabs Wilson as the Offensive Rookie of the Year and Wagner as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

King on Wilson: “Wilson over Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. Morphing from a laughed-at 5-foot-11, 75th pick in the draft into a tornado-like force at quarterback by December (three games, 150 points, including 42 against the mighty Niners), and playing like Fran Tarkenton with a better arm, Wilson nipped Griffin in my opinion. But if you want either other man, I have zero problem or argument with you.”

King on Wagner: “Bobby Wagner, edging Green Bay cornerback Casey Hayward and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. Wagner turned a suspect group of Seattle linebackers, the weak point of the Seahawks defense, into a competitive group by being great against the run (more tackles than Patrick Willis) and good dropping into coverage (three interceptions, excellent instincts).”

STAT DU JOUR

We ran the chart of the rookie QBs with the best passer ratings in league history last week, but that was before Wilson and Griffin rewrote it on Sunday. So here’s the new Top 5, with those who fell out of it and the other rookies in this year’s class:

Player, team (year)                                Rating

Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012)       102.4

Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012)        100.0

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004)     98.1

Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983)                 96.0

Greg Cook, Bengals (1969)                      88.3

Dropping out:

Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008)                      87.8

Cam Newton, Panthers (2011)              84.5

Other 2012 rookies:

Nick Foles, Eagles                                     79.1

Andrew Luck, Colts                                  76.5

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins                        76.1

Brandon Weeden, Browns                     72.6

UP NEXT

New Year’s Day, of course. The players had today “off” and will be “off” on Tuesday as well, although many were in today for a workout, treatment or to get a jump on their video preparation for Sunday’s game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Whatever awards come Russell Wilson’s way, we understand it. He’s just such a complete kid. That’s a really cool award for what he’s done off the field. He’s just on on all cylinders hitting it. The players would recognize that. The people in the community would recognize that. And the coaches certainly know that, as well. Anything with Steve Largent’s name on it is pretty cool.” – Carroll on Wilson being voted the Steve Largent Award by his teammates


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Thursday in Hawkville: Washington’s biggest return was just getting back into the game

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 27:

Leon Washington

FOCUS ON

Pro Bowl glow. Five Seahawks were basking in it today, after being named to the NFC squad on Wednesday, when eight others received alternate status.

But the selection might have meant the most to Leon Washington, the kick returner whose career was supposed to be over after he severely broke his right fibula in a 2009 game while playing with the Jets. The Jets traded Washington to the Seahawks in a draft-day deal in 2010, and all he’s done this season is return his eighth kickoff for a touchdown to tie the NFL career record and rank second in the NFL with a 30.1-yard average.

“It feels great,” Washington said. “Just to know that all the hard work you put into something, it pays off – eventually. Considering my situation, where I came from with the broken-leg injury and getting traded, there are so many people to thank. My wife, first of all, because we’ve been through so much together. She was there with me when I broke my leg and has seen me comeback from that.

“Then I’m just so thankful for the opportunity – for coach (Pete) Carroll and coach (Brian) Schneider to give me the opportunity to do what I love to do. And then you think about all the guys who protect me and block for me when I return the kick. You’ve got to give a special thanks to them. Like I said yesterday, I want to give special thanks to my teammates. And the two key words in there are ‘special’ and ‘teammates’ – which means special teams. It’s definitely a team award.”

Washington also went to the Pro Bowl in 2008 while with the Jets.

Here’s what the others had to say:

Left tackle Russell Okung, on his first Pro Bowl selection – and with the disclaimer that he refuses to talk about himself: “This is about the team and what we’ve been trying to out together since Pete and John (Schneider, the GM) arrived. I hope you guys know I hate this (talking to reporters). But from a talent standpoint and the guys we got, I guess we’re pretty good.”

Center Max Unger, who also was voted to his first Pro Bowl: “What really makes it special is that it came from your peers. It’s the defensive linemen in the conference who voted for me, and that means a lot.”

Free safety Earl Thomas, who was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl: “I just try to play my part, and I appreciate that the coaches and players just respect the way I play and the way I prepare. It’s truly a blessing just to be a part of this game another year.”

Running back Marshawn Lynch, who went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season and also was voted to the AFC squad in 2008 while playing with the Bills: Sorry. The Beast Mode back doesn’t like talking about himself, either.

Last year, Thomas was the only Seahawk voted to the Pro Bowl. He was then joined by four teammates who were alternates – cornerback Brandon Browner, strong safety Kam Chancellor, fullback Michael Robinson and Lynch. This year, that many players were voted to the NFC squad.

“We’re just getting better every year,” Thomas said. “And we’re showing the world what we’re all about.”

BRYANT WINS NFC HONOR

The league didn’t have to worry about selecting this week’s NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Carroll did it for them.

After Sunday’s 42-13 victory over the 49ers, Carroll offered, “The play of the game for me was Red. Red knocking that ball down on that field goal, and then Sherman scooping and scoring on that thing for 90, that was enormous moment.

“I think the bell rang right there – we have a chance to beat these guys on this night.”

The league office heard it as well, and tabbed Bryant for the weekly honor.

Bryant’s block – his first this season, but fifth in the past two seasons – came on the third play of the second quarter and extended the Seahawks lead to 21-0. It also followed Sherman breaking up a third-down pass in the end zone.

Bryant is the second Seahawk to win Special Teams Player of the Week this season, joining Washington (Week 12); and fifth Seahawk overall to be honored, joining defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 3), Sherman (Week 10) and rookie QB Russell Wilson (Week 13).

Sherman was nominated for Defensive Player of the Week, after also making an end-zone interception; while Wilson was nominated for Offensive Player of the Week for throwing four TD passes. But the winners were Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

Russell Wilson

HONORS ‘R US

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has selected his All-NFC West team and also handed out other honors, and the Seahawks are front and center.

Wilson is the division MVP. Says Sando: “Raise your hand if you thought the Seahawks rookie would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title.”

Schneider is the division Executive of the Year. Says Sando: “Schneider gets the call over St. Louis Rams counterpart Les Snead largely because he was the driving force behind the team’s decision to draft Wilson in the third round.”

Coach of the Year? Sando is waiting until after Sunday’s game, because if the Rams upset the Seahawks it’s Jeff Fisher for going unbeaten in the division and posting the Rams’ first winning record since 2003. If it’s the Seahawks, it’s Carroll. Says Sando: “If the Seahawks close out the season with an 8-0 record at home and an 11-5 record overall, Carroll will get my vote as top coach in the division. Carroll risked public ridicule and perhaps even his job by going with Wilson, a third-round rookie, when free-agent addition Matt Flynn had recently signed a three-year deal for $19.5 million. The move was subjecting Carroll to criticism as late as Week 4, when the Rams picked off Wilson three times during a 19-13 Seahawks defeat. Carroll trusted what he knew to be true about Wilson, and he has been proved right.”

Seahawks on the All-Division team: Okung, Unger, wide receiver Sidney Rice, Lynch, Robinson and Wilson on offense; Clemons, Sherman and Thomas on defense; and Washington as the kick returner.

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as released by the team:

Did not practice

LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)

WR Golden Tate (illness)

Limited participation

DE Red Bryant (foot)

OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)

CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)

Full participation

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

TE Anthony McCoy (back)

WR Sidney Rice (knee)

FS Earl Thomas (ankle)

CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)

After seven players sat out on Wednesday, the list was down to two today. Malcolm Smith continued to work for Hill on the weakside, while Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse filled in for Tate.

For the Rams:

Full participation

S Craig Dahl (knee)

CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)

RB Steven Jackson (illness)

LB James Laurinaitis (back)

WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)

CB Scott Wells (knee)

STAT DU JOUR, TEAM EDITION

Having already scored 173 points in December, the Seahawks need 27 against the Rams on Sunday to become the fourth team in NFL history to put up 200 in a calendar month. Here’s a look at the company the Seahawks are trying to join:

Team (month, year)                                                 Games    Points

Frankford Yellow Jackets (November, 1924)           8             238

Los Angeles Rams (October, 1950)                            5             220

New England Patriots (October, 2007)                     5             217

Seattle Seahawks (December, 2012)                        4             173

STAT DU JOUR, PLAYER EDITION

If Wilson can maintain his passer rating of 98.0, he will move into the Top 3 among rookie QBs in league history. Here’s a look at those top-rated rookies – as well as Wilson and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, who can move into the top spot:

Player, team (year)                                   Rating

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004)        98.1

Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983)                    96.0

Greg Cook, Bengals (1969)                        88.3

Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008)                        87.8

Cam Newton, Panthers (2011)                 84.5

With one game to go:

Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012)         104.1

Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012)             98.0

UP NEXT

“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday’s game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It was great news this morning to hear that. I know we’ve had our fingers crossed with the whole process. When we heard the news this morning I think everybody was pretty excited about it.” – defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Sherman having the appeal of his four-game suspension upheld


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Thursday cyber surfing: Club lands five in Pro Bowl; Bryant named Special Teams Player of Week 16

Pro Bowl

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.

Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.

Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”

Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ ”

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ ”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as

the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ ”

Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his story on the club’s Pro Bowl selections and recaps the activities surrounding “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on general manager John Schneider.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.

We have coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.


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Unger, Okung Pro Bowl starters; three others named

Max Unger, Russell Okung

Seahawks center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung have been voted starters on the NFC Pro Bowl squad, it was announced today.

Leon Washington is the kick returner, while running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves on the team.

Eight Seahawks named as alternates:

1st Alternates: DE Chris Clemons, FB Michael Robinson, CB Richard Sherman
2nd Alternates: SS Kam Chancellor, ST Heath Farwell, P Jon Ryan
3rd Alternate: QB Russell Wilson
4th Alternate: DT Brandon Mebane


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Christmas Eve in Hawkville: Making the playoffs just a step in the journey

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 24:

FOCUS ON

Christmas Eve Eve. For Pete Carroll, Sunday night began with him holding his grandson, Dillon, on the sideline before the Seahawks’ game against the 49ers. It ended with the team’s third-year coach embracing a playoff berth after a beyond-convincing 42-13 victory.

But Carroll is not satisfied. Far from it.

“My goal has never been the playoffs,” he said today during his weekly day-after Q&A session with reporters. “It’s try to win the division, because that puts you in the playoffs at home. And that’s what you want. The second season starts, but you want to position yourself in the best spot that you can get it.

“So we never say around here, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get to the playoffs.’ I never thought that. That isn’t good enough.”

That’s still out there for the Seahawks, if they beat the Rams at CenturyLink Field this Sunday while the Cardinals are beating the 49ers in San Francisco. But regardless of where the Seahawks finish, they’ve made it apparent that they can make some noise in the postseason.

To say they’re are on a roll does not do justice to just what the Seahawks have done during their four-game winning streak. Starting with the fourth quarter of their overtime win against the Bears in Chicago in Week 13, the Seahawks have scored on 24 of their 32 full possessions – not counting when the clock expired at the end of the first half or they kneeled to run out the clock at the end of the second half. And that doesn’t include the four touchdowns scored by the defense and special teams.

“We have to take care of our business first,” Carroll said. “What’s most important right now is we maintain consistency, and we maintain the level of play, and the focus to the details, and the discipline it takes to practice each day with intent, and do things right. And put together another good week so we can play well again.

“We’ve been playing well for quite a while. I can feel it in the room and the guys understand it. But that doesn’t mean anything unless we go do it again.”

GUY BACK, BUTLER GONE

The Seahawks have activated rookie safety Winston Guy, who returned last week with a roster exemption after serving a four-game suspension.

Guy, a sixth-round draft choice, was inactive for eight of the first 10 games before his suspension.

To clear a roster spot, wide receiver Deon Butler was released. Butler was re-signed Dec. 15.

INJURY UPDATE

Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) came out of Sunday night’s game with injuries, and the next-man-up at weakside linebacker is Mike Morgan, who started one game and played most of the second on the strongside for K.J. Wright earlier this season.

Carroll expects Marcus Trufant to practice on Wednesday after missing the past four games with a hamstring injury. But he is not sure if Walter Thurmond will be able to return by then. Thurmond has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

PLAYER WATCH

Jermaine Kearse. Signed as a free agent in April after the NFL Draft, the rookie free agent from the University of Washington was released Aug. 31 on the roster cut to 53 players. He was then signed to the practice squad (Sept. 3), released from the practice squad (Sept. 8), re-signed to the practice squad (Sept. 11) and then signed to the 53-man roster (Oct. 30).

Sunday night, Kearse caught a 17-yard pass from Russell Wilson on a third-and-8 play to sustain a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ended with Wilson’s first TD pass to Doug Baldwin and also had two coverage tackles on special teams.

“Oh man, this is a lot of fun,” Kearse, who also went to Lakes High School, said in the locker room after the game. “Especially being in this environment, my rookie year, being with this team, in my hometown; it’s a ton of fun. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Especially because he’s playing for a coach who rewards those players who work hard. Kearse is just one example of a rookie – and a practice-squad rookie, at that – who has reaped the Carroll-bestowed chances.

“Coach has given be a great opportunity to be part of this team,” he said. “Whether it’s special teams or offense, whatever opportunity I get I’m going to run with it. I felt good about today. It was a great team win and I’m happy to be part of this organization.”

PLAYOFF PATTER

If the season ended today, which of course it doesn’t, the Seahawks would play the Redskins in Washington in the first round. That, of course, could change because the only playoff spots not settled involve the NFC West, NFC East and NFC North.

The Seahawks and 49ers are both in, with the 49ers winning the division if they beat the Cardinals on Sunday; or the Seahawks winning it if the 49ers lose and they beat the Rams. One wins the division, while the other gets the No. 5 seed.

In the East, the Cowboys play at the Redskins on Sunday with the winner taking the division and No. 4 seed. With a loss, the Redskins are the No. 6 seed, if the Vikings and Bears also lose. If the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, they’re out. Then it’s the Vikings for the No. 6 seed, if they beat the Packers; or the Bears, if they beat the Lions and the Vikings lose; or the Giants, if they beat the Eagles and Cowboys, Vikings and Bears all lose.

POWERING UP

The Seahawks have made a pre-Christmas move in two of the power rankings that have surfaced early in this Christmas week. Here’s a look at where they rank, and what they’re saying:

No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com: “A tour de force victory Sunday night over the big, bad wolf of the NFC West that stamped the Seahawks as a real Super Bowl contender. No team has a bigger home-field advantage than the Seahawks (7-0 at CenturyLink this year). Too bad the ‘Hawks will likely have to win three straight on the road to get to the Super Bowl.”

No. 6 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings: “The Seahawks are on a 100-13 scoring run at home and have put up 150 over the past three weeks.”

STATS ’N STUFF

After rushing for 176 yards against a 49ers defense that was allowing an average of 91.1, the Seahawks rank No. 2 in the league in rushing offense. They have spiked their per-game average (161.7) by averaging 226.5 in their four-game winning streak.

The Seahawks also are plus-12 in turnover differential, which ties for sixth in the league.

Marshawn Lynch remains second in the league in rushing (1,490) and is tied for fourth among non-kickers with 72 points. He’s also fifth in total yards (1,672) and first downs (75).

Richard Sherman is tied for second in the league with a career-high seven interceptions, one behind league-leader Tim Jennings of the Bears; while Chris Clemons is tied for seventh in sacks (11.5).

Wilson’s passer rating of 98.0 is seventh in the league, and second among rookie QBs behind the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III. Wilson’s 101.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter is seventh in the league and his 92.4 rating on third downs in eighth. With 25 TD passes, he is ninth in the league, tops among rookie QBs and one shy of Peyton Manning’s league record for a rookie QB.

Leon Washington remains second in the league in kickoff return average (30.1), while Jon Ryan is sixth in the league in net punting average (41.6) and tied for 10th in punts inside the 20 (28).

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team with 130 tackles, which is six shy of the single-season club record for a rookie set by Terry Beeson on 1977. Special teams co-captains Heath Farwell (15) and Michael Robinson (10) lead the team in coverage tackles.

STAT DU JOUR

Calvin Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL record for receiving yards on Saturday night, which only makes the job the Seahawks did against the Lions’ Megatron wide-out in Week 8 that much more impressive. Here’s a look that game, and what Johnson has done since then:

Opponent                Rec.  Yards

Seahawks                  3         46

Jaguars                      7       129

Vikings                     12      207

Packers                      5      143

Texans                       8      140

Colts                         13      171

Packers                    10      118

Cardinals                 10      121

Falcons                    11      225

UP NEXT

Christmas Day, of course. And this year it just happens to fall on the players’ usually day off. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for this week’s game against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The amazing thing Sunday night was, that was no Jacksonville or Kansas City they beat up 42-13. That was the San Francisco 49ers, who’d entered the game first in the NFL in scoring defense. Russell Wilson had the first four-touchdown-pass day of his exploding career, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards, and the Seahawks, with a crowd so loud that NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya had to scream into Pete Carroll’s ear to be heard before the game, continued on the NFL’s best three-game offensive run since 1950.” – King in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com


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Week 16: Seahawks vs. 49ers

When: Sunday, 5:20 p.m., CenturyLink Field

Records: 49ers 10-3-1 and first in the NFC West after last week’s 41-34 victory over the Patriots in New England; Seahawks 9-5 and second in the NFC West after last week’s 50-17 victory over the Bills in Toronto

What’s at stake: The 49ers will clinch the division with a victory; the Seahawks will clinch a playoff spot with a victory

TV: NBC (KING/5 in the greater Seattle area), with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya

Radio: 710 AM ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller

Rest of the West: Rams (6-7-1) at Buccaneers; Bears at Cardinals (5-9)

Frank Gore

Matchup microscope

The Seahawks defense vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: There are so many angles to this game that this one has almost been overlooked. But how Gore goes has been a pretty good barometer on how the games between the Seahawks and 49ers have gone since he entered the league in 2005. His two top rushing performances have come against the Seahawks – 212 yards in 2006 and 207 in 2009; as well as his longest touchdown runs – 80 yards in that ’09 game. In fact, the 49ers are 4-0 against the Seahawks when Gore runs for more than 100 yards, and 3-6 in games when he rushes for fewer than 100 yards. In the Week 7 game in San Francisco this season, the 49ers used trap plays in the second half to get Gore free for 92 of his 131 yards. So containing him will be a big step toward stopping the 49ers.

One to watch

Seahawks P Jon Ryan vs. 49ers P Andy Lee: Field position should be at a premium, and these two are capable of altering it with one swing of their right legs. Lee was the NFC Pro Bowl punter last season and this season he is fifth in the NFL in average (48.1), second in net average (43.2) and third in punts inside the 20-yard line (34). And only one of his 60 punts has gone out of bounds. Ryan is overdue for some Pro Bowl recognition. He already owns most of the franchise records and this season he’s fifth in the league in net average (46.4) and tied for fifth in punts inside the 20 (28).

Fun to watch

The 49ers defense vs. the Seahawks zone-read running plays: The Seahawks’ offense that will be on the field Sunday night is not the same Seahawks offense that the 49ers held to 251 yards and a pair of field goals in Week 7. The Seahawks are averaging 243 rushing yards during their three-game winning streak and scored eight rushing touchdowns while hanging 58 points on the Cardinals two weeks ago and 50 on the Bills last week. One of the biggest reasons is the zone-read, where QB Russell Wilson either hands the ball to Marshawn Lynch or keeps it and tries to exploit the lanes created by the opposition’s preoccupation with the league’s second-leading rusher. In the past two games, Lynch has run for 241 yards and four touchdowns on only 21 carries. Wilson ran for 92 yards and three TDs last week.

One tough task

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. his first start at CenturyLink Field: Kaepernick has shoved the 49ers’ offense into another gear since taking over for Alex Smith five games ago. He is averaging 7.2 yards as a runner and also passed for seven touchdowns. He beat the Saints at the Superdome and the Patriots in New England. Now comes the noise factory that is the Seahawks’ home field. The 12th Man will be in full roar for this one, and it will be up to Kaepernick to handle the chaotic environment in only his sixth NFL start.

Worth noting

The 49ers are 5-0 in primetime games this season, including their Week 7 win over the Seahawks on a Thursday night. … The Seahawks are 6-0 at CenturyLink Field, joining the Falcons (7-0) as the only teams in the league that remain unbeaten at home. … The 49ers have allowed a league-low 218 points – one fewer than the Seahawks. … The 49ers rank second in the league in rushing offense, while the Seahawks are No. 3. … The 49ers rank second in the league in total defense, while the Seahawks are third. … The Seahawks rank No. 3 in the league is passing defense, while the 49ers are No. 5. … The Seahawks entered their Week 7 game against the 49ers allowing an average of 70.0 rushing yards, but have allowed an average of 133.5 in the past eight games. … The 49ers have allowed 113 points in the fourth quarter, while the Seahawks have scored 85 in that quarter. … The 49ers’ Aldon Smith shares the NFL lead with 19.5 sacks, while the Seahawks’ Chris Clemons is tied for second in the NFC with a career-high 11.5. … Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 121 tackles, while the 49ers are led by linebackers NaVorro Bowman (161) and Patrick Willis (154).


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