NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - INSIDE SLANT
After they suffered just their second loss of the season Sunday at San Francisco, the Seattle Seahawks noted that disappointing as it was, all of their goals were still intact.
In fact, Seattle can attain all of their regular-season goals Sunday when they play at the New York Giants.
A Seattle win, coupled with losses by the 49ers and Saints, and the Seahawks would clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. A Seattle win and a 49ers loss or tie, meanwhile, would give them the NFC West, and needing just one win or a Saints loss in the final two games to get the No. 1 seed.
And that alone should be enough to stave off any hangover from the 19-17 loss at Candlestick Park last week.
Still, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the team did the requisite re-focusing on Monday to make sure everyone's head was still in the right place after the Seahawks fell to 11-2.
"Monday, we set the attitude in motion to handle this and this week coming up, it's a huge opportunity going on the road," he said. "It's the last road game of the year, in the regular season. So we need to be right. I think our guys; they're prepared to respond really well. So I'll be surprised if they don't. It's such a big opportunity that we should be right on it."
Players echoed that theme, such as safety Earl Thomas, who said the loss would force the team to "re-focus" on the "little details" that he thought cost the team the win in San Francisco.
Chief among those is penalties -- Seattle had nine for 85 yards, including three on offense that wiped out first downs.
Another is getting a bit more efficient with the running game as the Seahawks have been held under 100 yards twice in the last three weeks after being held under 100 just twice in the first 10 games.
Carroll, though, noted that penalties were also to blame with two potentially long gains called back.
"We hurt ourselves," he said of Seattle being held to 86 yards by the 49ers. "We had a pretty good day just with the two plays that were called back. That would've led to other stuff. So I think we're fine. I think we're in good shape. Marshawn (Lynch) continues to run hard and run tough, the guys up front are targeting well and are playing hard. I have no problem with what's going on. I think we still have a lot of confidence in that we can run the football and that we will continue to."
SERIES HISTORY: 16th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 9-6, but the Seahawks won the most recent meeting in 2011, 36-25, in New Jersey. That is the only time the Seahawks have played there under Pete Carroll.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - NOTES, QUOTES
--The game will be the fifth time this year that the Seahawks will play a game that begins at 10 a.m. Seattle time. Those games have often been a real thorn for the Seahawks -- they were 1-3 in games at that start time last year. But it hasn't been a real issue this season as Seattle is 3-1 in 10 a.m. start times, the loss coming at Indianapolis in a game in which Seattle jumped out to a 12-0 lead.
--Seattle has compiled a 27-10 record since the final half of the 2011 season and in those 10 losses, the margin of victory for the opponent has been 4.3 points (43 points). The Seahawks' largest defeat since Week 10 of 2011 was a 13-6 loss at San Francisco on Oct. 18, 2012.
--After having a few issues earlier in the year converting third downs, Seattle has turned it around, and over the last five weeks leads the NFL, making 33 of 64, 51.6 percent, the only team converting more than half of its third downs in that time.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5-2 -- Seattle's road record after seven games. With one more win, Seattle will break the team record for road victories. Seattle was also 5-3 in 1984 and 2005.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We look at the Giants, we see a team that's really, really transitioned from an early part of the season to the last seven games. These guys have been going in a whole different fashion. Their defense has been playing great, they've been getting the football and getting it that much better than they did early in the year, when they were having some problems with the turnovers and now they turned that around and they've shown to be very effective." -- Seattle coach Pete Carroll scouting the Giants.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Russell Wilson remains second among NFL quarterbacks in winning percentage for those with more than 15 starts at 22-7, 75.9 percent. Tom Brady is first at 146-42, 77.7 percent.
--CB Perrish Cox was re-signed by Seattle on Wednesday to replace the injured Jeron Johnson on the 53-man roster. Cox was signed for a day in November but then released when the team became aware that the appeal by Brandon Browner of his proposed suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy might result in Browner still being able to play this season. There was no word through Wednesday when a decision will come on that appeal.
--Starting weak-side linebacker K.J. Wright will be out roughly six weeks after breaking a bone in his foot Sunday at San Francisco. He had surgery on the injury Wednesday. Malcolm Smith will take over as the starter. Smith played that spot last year and also started two games there this season when Wright moved to middle linebacker for the injured Bobby Wagner.
--WR Percy Harvin did not participate in Seattle's practice on Wednesday and officially remains day-to-day. Coach Pete Carroll said he did not know when Harvin will be able to practice and it's unclear if he has a chance to play this week.
--SS Jeron Johnson was placed on injured reserve after pulling his hamstring on Sunday, capping a season in which he has suffered two other hamstring injuries.
--C Max Unger sat out practice Wednesday with a pectoral injury suffered against the 49ers, but is expected to play against the Giants.
--CB Richard Sherman sat out practice Wednesday with a foot injury of unknown severity. Carroll did not mention the injury when meeting with reporters prior to practice.
--RB Marshawn Lynch sat out practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury. But he often sits out on Wednesday and any injury was not noticeable during the 49ers game. Lynch continues to lead the NFL with 19 100-yard games since the 2011 season. But just three have come this season as he has hit a few more roadblocks than usual the last three weeks. Lynch has not rushed for more than 72 yards in games against the Vikings, Saints and 49ers and has 171 yards on 53 carries in that span, an average of 3.2 yards per carry.
Defensively, expect the Seahawks to be as aggressive as they can get away with in an attempt to pressure New York quarterback Eli Manning into a few more interceptions -- Manning's 20 are tied for the NFL lead and already tied for the second-most in his career.
That will put the onus on a pass rush that has been steady of late, but not as spectacular as at other times in the season, to come through big. Ends Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons, in particular, could have big games. Avril leads the team with 7.5 sacks but was shut out against the 49ers while Clemons got one sack against the 49ers, his first in four games.
Seattle's secondary continues to play more man this season than in past seasons, even with some of its recent personnel issues, and that doesn't figure to change.
Offensively, Seattle wants to get the running game back on track after averaging just 306 yards the last three games, down from the season average of 141.3 that ranks third in the NFL.
That may not be easy to do against a Giants defense that has improved greatly of late against the run and ranks 11th in the NFL at 105.4.
But Seattle has to get that established to set up some play-action deep shots, a staple of the offense that the 49ers were able to largely contain last week.
Don't be surprised to see Seattle try to create some big plays in the offense early to get an early lead on a New York team that could have an uncertain mental state as it is now 5-8 and officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Seattle struggled to get going early last week, and were shut out in the first quarter by the 49ers. The Seahawks need a quicker start this week to try to bury the Giants early.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini vs. Giants DE Justin Tuck -- Tuck has 8.5 sacks this season, but seven in the last three games and six in the last two. So he's obviously on a roll, making him one of the toughest challenges yet for Giacomini since he returned from injury three weeks ago. Seattle's pass protection has gotten better with the return of Giacomini and left tackle Russell Okung but the Giants will be a test at home.
--Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. Giants MLB Jon Beason -- Since being acquired by Carolina earlier this season, Beason has helped rejuvenate a New York defense that has gone from 26th in the NFL to its current 10th. New York has allowed just three 100-yard rushers all season. Lynch, meanwhile, has just three 100-yard games this season after having 10 last season.
--Giants CBs Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley vs. Seahawks WRs Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin -- As do the Seahawks, the Giants line up their cornerbacks on a side of the field and let them stay there -- Amukamara on the right and Hosley on the left. So that means each will get their turns at Seattle receivers Tate and Baldwin. Baldwin and Tate, meanwhile, are Seattle's top two threats with Sidney Rice out for the year and Percy Harvin remaining week-to-week, at best. The Seahawks had trouble getting big plays out of the passing game last week against the 49ers but may look for more opportunities against the Giants.
--Seahawks secondary vs. Giants QB Eli Manning -- Manning has thrown 20 interceptions this season, tied for the most in the NFL. The Seattle secondary, meanwhile, is tied for third in the NFL with 17 interceptions. But after a hot start, the Seahawks have just four in the last five games, three coming in the blowout of the Vikings. Neither Richard Sherman nor Earl Thomas have a pick in the last five games. So something may have to give there.