BY Art Thiel 06:40PM 12/16/2012

Thiel: Checklist complete, Seahawks await 49ers

Only way the day would have been more complete was if the Seahawks left their prison-colored uniforms in their Toronto hotel rooms.

But Canada is sensitive about American pollution coming across the border, so it may not be worth the controversy. The Seahawks can just toss the “wolf grey” duds atop the fire they’re setting in the NFL.

Following the 58-0 crushing of Arizona with a 50-17 triumph over Buffalo Sunday in Toronto, the Seahawks (9-5) are looking good everywhere except apparel, but the NFL has no penalty – yet – for wardrobe malfunction.

The NFL does reward high-functioning football, and that describes well the Seahawks and their fast-rising playoff position, which is now the first wild card spot, fifth overall in the NFC. Heading into two home games against division rivals, here’s another list

Efficient quarterback play – check.

Clock-controlling rushing game –  check.

Turnover-inducing defense – check.

Field-position edge from special teams – check.

Roster depth to protect against injuries – check.

Winning on the road – check.

“We put together a really cool football game across the board,” said coach Pete Carroll. “There was a concern about how we would handle (coming off a blowout win), but we played really well.”

The Seahawks have never played as efficiently, and rarely has the NFL seen such short-term productivity. Only two other times have teams scored more than 100 points in consecutive games. Counting the game-winning TD in Chicago two weeks ago, the Seahawks had 78 points in a row before the Bills (5-9) scored late in the first quarter to trail 14-7.

Quarterback Russell Wilson continued to flash new weaponry. After going without a rushing touchdown this season, he set a QB franchise record with three – all in the first half.  None were quarterback sneaks. Of his runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards – he had 92 yards on nine carries — two were off his mastery of the read option, and one was a scramble out of the pocket.

He had no turnovers Sunday and only one in the past six games.

“Russell is handling things really well,” Carroll said.  “I’m thrilled he’s been able to continue to grow. We’re really playing well with him. For a long time, we were just trying to not screw up. We’re past that. We know now whatever we call, good things can happen.”

Testament for that is the Seahawks over the past three games have averaged 472 yards of offense, and that includes coasting in the late stages of the past two.

They also took charge early, and managed the odd environment of an away game for both teams at Rogers Centre — Buffalo is 112 miles of winter road away — to dominate on the road for the first time this season.

“We looked at this a little bit like it was a bowl situation at a semi-neutral site,” Carroll said. “To see that kind of numbers on the road, that was great. It was a special event, we enjoyed it, and got a win.”

The Seahawks no longer need to develop the fake enthusiasm for a minor bowl game. They now have what they wanted when the NFL schedule came out: A Dec. 23 game with the rivals that has national gravitas.

“We had 58 and 50 two weeks in a row, and now we’re going into Sunday night against the 49ers to decide the division championship,” said Rice. “That’s what we wanted.”

By beating New England Sunday night, the 49ers (10-3-1) remain in charge of the NFC West, but haven’t clinched. So the incentive, if a bit diminished, remains for Seattle: It’s the 49ers and Carroll’s most villainous rival, Jim Harbaugh, coming to a town waiting all fall for them, viewed by a national audience eager for a peek at the latest sports phenomenon – Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.




  • Joe Fan

    So excited for the game next Sunday. I will be there and will be bringing my game face!

    • art thiel

      An actual rivalry game. Aside from the Pac-12, when has there been a pro sports matchup between a local team and one the fans/players can work up a mad-on for?

      • Moose

        Why, every time the M’s play the Padres! You know…that great rivalry Selig keeps trying to convince us we have. (The real answer: M’s vs.Yankees in the 2001 playoffs. It’s been a while.)

  • Bayview Herb

    As the teams left the field, I wondered it the Buffalo coach yelled at our, fake field goal late in the game, “What’s your deal?”

    • art thiel

      A fair retort, but Carroll said he made a mistake by failing to call it off. But if that’s the worst to be said about the Seahawks . . .

  • Matt712

    A few thoughts:

    This morning, as I looked down at a football laying on top of my sweatshirt, I noticed the names ‘Russell’ and ‘Wilson’. If Russell Wilson wasn’t born to be a football star, he was certainly named for it.

    The Seahawk defense appears to be getting their early/mid season swagger back. It seemed the Bills’ offense was routinely smothered in bird droppings. Turns out it was just the Hawks’ new uniforms. (‘Wolf Grey’ huh? Anyone who’s ever walked on a waterfront pier knows what that color really is.)

    Although I wouldn’t say the SF vs NE game didn’t matter, the way the Hawks and Niners are both playing right now, they may have been destined to play each other two more times regardless. Besides, I think I’d rather the Seahawks go into the playoffs as a wild card; they don’t do well with byes.

  • JimC

    three words for you: rookie of the year.

    • art thiel

      Arithmetic is close, and all are good.

      • jimc

        Wish i were there. I live in RGIII land now. I think skins fans dont care a lick about rookie honors when they are finally winning. they just want griffin playing. Wilson is still starting, too. so the numbers get better.

        Hawks vs skins? Pinch me til i turn teal.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Hawks look great but the 49ers look great-er. When it comes to this rivalry I fear Harbaugh has proved superior at game prepping and in-game tactics
    and adjustments. Carrol will need to focus like never before to
    get over this hump. The Pats looked like a jv squad against them, and on their own turf no less.

    BTW San Fran will be playing this week for a first round bye, correct? I.e. if they lose GB slips into the #2 overall spot behind Atlanta (assuming they win their very winnable remaining schedule).

    Also, for the Hawks it looks like things would work out well with us @ #5 slot playing either the redskins or Cowboys before advancing (hopefully!) to play Atlanta in round 2. This keeps us out of the 49ers trajectory until conference championship…..

    • art thiel

      Lots remains at stake in the game, as you point out. Harbaugh is a very smart guy and has outcoached Pete, and Pete knows it. The 5 slot is definitely a competitive advantage. Easier first round foe, and past that, an indoor game in ATL.