Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 4 – two days prior to their Wild Card game on the road against the Washington Redskins.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the play and persona of running back Marshawn Lynch, “For all the attention the quarterbacks in Sunday’s game are bound to get, it’s Lynch who is the foundation for Seattle’s offense. ‘He’s as smart a football guy as I’ve been around,’ said Tom Cable, the Seahawks’ assistant head coach. ‘Some people don’t get to know that because he won’t share that with you. He won’t open up very much.’ This is by choice after a career that has seen him praised as a prodigy in Buffalo, celebrated as a Pro Bowler and later characterized as a pariah. And nearly three years into his second chance in Seattle, we’re still trying to get a picture of what this Skittles-chomping, defense-stomping force of nature is really like. ESPN.com NFC East blogger Dan Graziano has a video preview and prediction of Sunday’s Wild Card matchup between the NFC East champion Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson has been nominated for NFL Rookie of the Year ’12, and you can cast a vote for Wilson here. Our Insider Clare Farnsworth has more on the rookie Wilson and those that are challenging him for the honor here.
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says containing Redskins running back Alfred Morris will be a priority for the Seahawks on Sunday, “Morris outrushed Lynch by 23 yards this season. And whereas Lynch is rightly lauded for his relentless running style, Morris has more yards after contact than Lynch, 643 to 558. Shanahan saw that play-sustaining ability when he watched tape of Florida Atlantic before the draft. ‘Here’s a guy that was on a football team that didn’t have a great record, and you could see some runs — some 4- and 5-yard runs — that we thought were special at the time,’ Shanahan said. Coupled with Griffin, whose running ability is well-documented, Morris presents a formidable challenge for the Seahawks defense. ‘They force you to play sound football, because if you don’t, they’re going to expose it,’ defensive tackle Alan Branch said. ‘That’s what their offense is meant to do. Hopefully, we read our keys and stay in our zone, and hopefully we can knock it out.’ ”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times catches up with cornerback Brandon Browner, who returned from his month-long suspension earlier this week, “Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that the team will see how rusty Browner is after the month away. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Browner has been doing extra work in practice to help regain his sharpness. So does Browner think he’ll be ready for Sunday’s playoff game at Washington? ‘Most definitely,’ he said. ‘It starts in the head, mentally. I’m mentally tough. I know I’ll be a little bit tired out there, but at the end of the day I’m fighting for a playoff victory, so I’ll be all right.’ ”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes the Seahawks are confident their early season road struggles are behind them, “That win in Chicago helped spark a 5-0 finish, which included three consecutive blowouts, and another road victory over Buffalo in Toronto. Heading into what they hope is the first of three road playoff games — again, assuming Minnesota doesn’t win two playoff games as well — the Seahawks are confident that their game now travels well. ‘We had trouble on the road early in season, but lately we’ve been playing great ball, home or away,’ safety Earl Thomas said. ‘We’re very excited about this championship opportunity. It’s a big stage. We’re blessed to make the playoffs and we’re going to make the most of it.’ ”
Boyle also passes along Thursday’s injury report for both clubs, noting rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane did not participate with a knee injury, and Lynch was a full participant after a limited outing on Wednesday when he rested his back.
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says the Redskins will present a challenge for the Seahawks run defense, “The Seahawks held three of their final four opponents to fewer than 90 yards rushing. But while that might suggest an end to their struggles against the run, it could have also been a product of the way the games played out. Seattle jumped out to early leads in three of them, forcing opponents to throw the ball more in an attempt to catch up. Sunday’s game should provide an answer as to whether or not those issues are a thing of the past. Washington’s offense is similar in many ways to Seattle’s in terms of style and personnel. Both teams run a variation of the option, each with a powerful running back and a dynamic rookie quarterback who can beat teams with his arm and legs.”
Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” discuss the candidacy for Rookie of the Year in this short video.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press writes that Russell Wilson is ready for the big stage of the NFL playoffs, “While this is his first time in the NFL playoffs, the feel and sense around the team’s facility reminded Wilson of his preparations a year ago when he was getting ready to lead Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, a game the Badgers lost 45-38. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell didn’t hesitate earlier in the week when asked if he was worried about Wilson getting too wrapped up in the noise of the postseason. ‘I just expect him to be very poised, have everything under control and play well,’ he said.”
Jarrett Bell of USA Today takes a look at the way teams have built winners through the NFL draft, “If he isn’t already, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson might be held up as another example of how many teams miss on great potential. Wilson, 5-11, was considered too short to be a first-round pick despite his production at North Carolina State and Wisconsin, smarts and athleticism. He lasted until the third round, 75th overall. Wilson joins RGIII as the only qualifying rookies to post 100-or-better passer ratings, and he tied Peyton Manning’s NFL rookie record with 26 touchdown passes. ‘After he got here, you didn’t know how tall he was,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “best guesses” for Week 18, picking the Seahawks over the Redskins, 24-17, “The Seahawks are the only road team favored by oddsmakers in the wild-card round. They are healthier than the Redskins and have the healthier, hotter quarterback now that Seattle is running more of its offense through Russell Wilson. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III remains a threat, of course, particularly on play-action throws. The Seahawks’ run defense also will be tested in this game. Those are concerns for Seattle. But with Griffin limited by a knee injury, the Seahawks should end a playoff road losing streak that dates to the 1983 season.”
Sando breaks down the play of Wilson and Robert Griffin III in three key categories: third down, red zone, and fourth-quarter/overtime, “Some of the numbers [for Wilson] are difficult to believe: 9.3 yards per attempt on third down; 18 total touchdowns in the red zone; 74 percent completions and 9.6 yards per attempt in fourth quarters and overtimes. Griffin has impressive numbers in some of the categories as well, but they lag behind the standard Wilson has set over the same time period. In many cases, they lag far behind: 5.7 yards per attempt on third down; eight total touchdowns in the red zone; 56.9 percent completions and 5.9 yards per attempt in fourth quarters and overtimes.”
And we close out today’s “cyber surfing” with Sando’s “Final Word” on Sunday’s Wild Card matchup, “Rookie showcase. Washington’s Robert Griffin III (102.4) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (100.0) are the only qualifying quarterbacks in NFL history to finish their rookie seasons with NFL passer ratings in triple digits. They also are the first full-time rookie starting quarterbacks to face one another in an NFL playoff game. Houston’s T.J. Yates was a replacement for Matt Schaub when he went against fellow rookie Andy Dalton in the playoffs last season. Wilson and Griffin aren’t alone among rookies playing prominent roles for their teams. The Redskins, led by Griffin and 1,600-yard rusher Alfred Morris, have a league-high 46 touchdowns passing, rushing or receiving from their rookies this season. The Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts are tied for second with 30 apiece. Seattle also got 12 sacks from its rookies. Bruce Irvin had eight of them. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner finished his rookie season with 140 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks as an every-down player.”
Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Rams; Wild Card date with Redskins set
Good morning, and happy New Year’s Eve. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 31.
After securing a 20-13 victory over the Rams yesterday, the Seahawks finished the regular season with a record of 11-5, including a perfect 8-0 at home. As the playoff’s No. 5 seed they will face the No. 4 seed Washington Redskins (10-6), who won the NFC East title last night for the first time since 1999, in a road matchup on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. PT. The game is set to be televised on FOX.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times recaps the Seahawks’ 20-13 Week 17 win over the Rams, “After three straight blowout wins, the Seahawks found a different path to victory against the Rams. This was a grinder game. Nothing came easily. It was the kind of game the Hawks can expect when they travel to Washington for the first playoff game Sunday. It was the perfect preparatory test heading into the playoffs, a game that felt as gritty as January.”
Danny O’Neil has his game story from yesterday, “In the shadow of their goal line, the Seahawks didn’t have a shadow of a doubt. ‘No one’s scared,’ center Max Unger said. ‘No one’s worried about, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to go 90 yards.’ We’ve shown that we’re able to do that.’ And they did just that. Again. A 90-yard touchdown drive fittingly capped off by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s 1-yard scramble was the difference in Seattle’s 20-13 victory Sunday over St. Louis at CenturyLink Field.”
O’Neil has a short preview of Sunday’s matchup with the Redskins, “It’s a showdown in a class of rookie quarterbacks that has already inspired comparisons to the best quarterback crops in NFL history. Washington’s Robert Griffin III finished the season with a passer rating of 102.4, highest ever for an NFL rookie. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was No. 2 at 100.0.”
O’Neil has his “Two-Minute Drill“, where he names running back Marshawn Lynch his player of the game, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed 18 times for 100 yards, his fourth consecutive game with a triple-digit rushing total. He ran for 1,590 yards in 16 games this season, the third-highest total in franchise history.”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has his game notebook from yesterday’s 20-13 Seahawks win, “Yet another 100-yard game for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch capped one of the best rushing seasons in team history. Lynch finished with a career-high 1,590 yards in 2012, behind only Shaun Alexander’s 1,880 in 2005 and 1,696 in 2004. Lynch had 100 yards or more in eight of Seattle’s last 10 games and a career-high 10 times overall, matching Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson for the NFL high this season. ‘This year has just been great for him,’ Robinson said of Lynch. ‘People don’t want to tackle the guy this late in the season.’ ”
Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says wide receiver Golden Tate made the biggest play of the game in Sunday’s win over the Rams, “Tate’s game-changing play was neither a catch nor a run. It was simply diving on a loose ball that he saw bouncing on the turf of CenturyLink Field away from his teammate’s grasp. The heads up play of securing the ball and retaining possession secured a 20-13 win over the St. Louis Rams and retained some semblance of momentum for the Seahawks as they head into the playoffs next week. ‘My favorite play of the day was Golden coming up with that fumble right there,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says this Seahawks team is primed for a playoff run, “…despite an 11-5 record and a fifth-straight victory, will be a Wild Card team and will have to play on the road against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. This time, crazy didn’t happen for the Seahawks. San Francisco took care of business, so any playoff success Seattle is going to have will have to take place on the road. Here’s the thing though; the Seahawks just might be good enough for that not to matter. Sure the Seahawks would have loved another game or two at CenturyLink Field, where they went 8-0 for the third time in franchise history, but after winning seven of their last eight, after showing they can pull off thrilling comebacks on the road, blow teams out when they get a chance, or grind out a tough win when the game calls for that, the Seahawks look like a team capable of making a playoff run no matter where the road takes them.”
Boyle has a look at Wilson’s day, “…Wilson didn’t break Manning’s record, he merely tied it while attempting 182 fewer passes than Manning did in 1998, and while throwing 18 fewer interceptions. And most telling of Wilson’s rookie season, he ended the year with another clutch, fourth-quarter drive. Seattle’s go-ahead drive, which featured a vintage Wilson play in which he avoided the pass rush, scrambled and hit Golden Tate for a 44-yard gain, was the fourth Wilson has led this season to give Seattle the lead in the fourth quarter of a win this season. After taking a beating early in the game, Wilson started to find way to avoid sacks and make plays. Wilson again frustrated pass rushers, he again made plays with his arms and legs, and he again took care of the football.”
Boyle rehashes cornerback Richard Sherman’s game-clinching interception in Week 17, “Sherman didn’t find many ways to stand out against the Rams for most of Sunday afternoon. That wasn’t because Sherman was playing poorly, but rather because Rams quarterback Sam Bradford wisely spent the better part of four quarters avoiding throw the ball in Sherman’s general vicinity. But with the game on the line, facing fourth-and-ballgame, Bradford couldn’t afford to be careful and he tried to force a pass to Austin Pettis, and as he has done so many times this season, Sherman made Bradford pay. ‘I was hunting,’ Sherman said. ‘I was waiting on the opportunity all day. I’ve been patient, I’ve been playing tight coverage and I didn’t get many opportunities, so when I get an opportunity to overlap, I overlapped and got my hands on it.’ ”
Boyle also details Week 17 by the numbers, “30—Total touchdowns for Wilson, whose fourth rushing touchdown of the season put Seattle ahead in the fourth quarter. Wilson joins Cam Newton as the only rookie quarterbacks to account for 30 total touchdowns. Last season Newton threw 21 touchdowns and rushed for 14 more.”
Rich Myhre of the Everett Herald has his game story from Week 17, “In terms of momentum, few of the NFL’s 12 playoff teams can match the Seahawks, who step into the postseason having won five in a row and seven of their past eight games. ‘That’s exactly how we would like to finish, regardless of what happened in the first half (of the season),’ said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. ‘Get all those wins … and feel good. Be rolling at this part of the season and the playoffs. That’s a real good feeling.’ Facing an upcoming trip to Washington, Carroll added, ‘our guys are strong and they’re ready to go.’ ”
Myhre highlights the play of running back Marshawn Lynch, “Like the rest of the Seahawks, Lynch started slowly this season. He went over 100 yards just twice in the first six games, but then topped that mark eight times in the team’s final 10 games. His total of 10 100-yard games is one shy of Alexander’s team record set in 2005. Alexander has the top two single-season rushing totals in Seahawks history with 1,880 yards in 2005 and 1,696 yards in 2004. The only other Seattle running back to go over 1,500 yards is Chris Warren with 1,545 in 1994. ‘That kid is unbelievable,’ Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said of Lynch. ‘It just seems like he gets stronger as the game goes on, and that’s unusual in this league.’ ”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press recaps the Seahawks Week 17 win over the Rams and looks ahead to next week, “The Seahawks closed out the season as the only undefeated team at home. But to get another home game this season, the Seahawks would need to pull off two road victories and have the No. 6 seed in the NFC – Minnesota – reach the championship game. Unlikely? Yes. But with how much has gone Seattle’s way the latter half of the season, anything is conceivable. They’ve won seven of eight, including a five-game winning streak to close the year. They won at least 11 games for just the third time in franchise history. ‘Let’s see if we can make that nine (straight),’ Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said.”
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com likes that the Seahawks won a close game before facing the Redskins in the playoffs next week, “The Seahawks got a nice wake-up call from a rapidly improving Rams squad that should be taken seriously under Jeff Fisher. Though they may have totaled 150 points in the previous three games, that number belies the truth of what really happened in those games. Remember, 28 of those 150 points were scored by the defense or special teams, and 44 more points were set up by great starting field position (forced again by turnovers and great special teams). None of those facts should take anything away from what the offense accomplished – far from it. The team concept led to those points and the offense deserves immense credit for its efficiency, especially in the red zone. But this is not, by nature or design, a high-octane unit.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com details Tate’s game-saving fumble recovery in the fourth quarter, “Marshawn Lynch’s fourth-quarter fumble could have given the Rams the ball in the red zone with a chance to take a late lead, but Tate emerged from the bottom of that pile with the football, extending a Seahawks drive that would end with the go-ahead touchdown. ‘Guys are trying to do whatever it takes to get the ball,’ Tate said after the Seahawks’ 20-13 win at CenturyLink Field. ‘In that instance I was OK – I felt like my wrist was about to break if I held onto the ball any longer. It’s just a dog fight in there. You get the ball however you can.’ ”
Henderson also has his “Quick hits” following Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Rams, “The good. Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards for the 10th time this season. Seattle ran the ball effectively for much of the game, even when pass protection issues made it difficult to sustain drives. Golden Tate had key receptions on both of Seattle’s touchdown drives, gaining 31 yards on one and 44 on the other. He finished with a career-high 105 yards on three catches. The Rams had driven into Seattle territory after Wilson’s touchdown run, but Richard Sherman sealed a Seahawks win when he intercepted Sam Bradford on the goal line on fourth down.”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has his recap of Week 17, “Tate had a fine game, yet his 105 yards on four catches wasn’t his biggest contribution. Two plays earlier on the final drive, he recovered a rare Lynch fumble to give Seattle a first down at the 21-yard line. ‘If I don’t get that fumble, then we don’t get the big play,’ Tate said, grinning. The if-thens are falling Seattle’s way in the late season. They finished with five consecutive wins, tying the club’s 1986 record. They allowed the fewest points, 245, in team history. And for the third time in club annals, they went undefeated at home.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “Quick Take” on the Seahawks’ matchup with the Redskins, “Rookie QB battle. Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Washington’s Robert Griffin III are leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year. Wilson is healthier than Griffin. He has been hotter late in the season. Both start fresh in the playoffs. Both benefit from running backs with more than 1,500 yards for the regular season. The big question is to what degree Griffin can challenge the Seahawks’ defense after suffering a knee injury late in the season and taking hits from Dallas in Week 17.”
Sando has a look at why the Seahawks will be a tough out in the playoffs, “Some quarterbacks can beat you with their legs. Some can beat you with their arms. Wilson can do those things, but it’s not an either-or proposition with Seattle’s offensive rookie of the year candidate. Wilson’s ability to beat teams with his arm after beating them with his feet is what makes him a matchup nightmare. ‘You try to prepare for him all week and it’s hard to prepare for a guy like that who is mobile and can still throw at the same time,’ Rams defensive end William Hayes said. ‘I really don’t know a certain way to say ‘This is how you stop that kid.’ He is special.’ ”
Lastly, Sando has his “Rapid Reaction” following Week 17 between the Seahawks and Rams, “The Seahawks know they’re set at quarterback when what was often a tough game for Wilson ends with a stat line featuring 15 completions in 19 attempts for 250 yards with one touchdown passing, another touchdown rushing and a 136.3 NFL passer rating. Wilson most likely set a franchise single-season record for passer rating.”
“Cyber surfing” will take a break tomorrow, New Years Day, and will return on Wednesday, January 1, 2013.
The Seahawks hoped to stretch their winning streak to three games against the visiting Washington Redskins, who traveled to Seattle losers of six games in a row. Seattle survived a rough first quarter to take a 10-point lead in the second half, only to see it snatched away in the fourth quarter.