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Christmas Eve in Hawkville: Seahawks talking about controlling their own destiny

Posted Dec 24, 2013

Despite the recent losses to the 49ers and Cardinals, the 12-3 Seahawks still can clinch the NFC West title and everything that comes with that by beating the St. Louis Rams in their regular-season finale.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 24, when the players practiced on what is normally their “off” day so they can have Christmas off:

WORD OF THE DAY: DESTINY

As in, controlling it. And that’s the situation the Seahawks find themselves as they prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field.

If the Seahawks win, they clinch the NFC West title, a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Win, and it doesn’t matter what the San Francisco 49ers (11-4) do against the Cardinals (10-5) in Arizona; or the Carolina Panthers (11-4) do against the Falcons in Atlanta; or the New Orleans Saints (10-5) do in their home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Win, and everything the Seahawks have been chasing all season gets stamped “accomplished.”

Yes, the Seahawks had the opportunity to do all this already, twice. But they lost the 49ers in Week 14 and the Cardinals on Sunday. But that doesn’t alter the fact that they’re still one win from being the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

“It’s a big ball game, obviously, it’s a championship game for us,” coach Pete Carroll said before Tuesday’s practice, which was held on the outdoor fields at VMAC. “Everybody’s pumped up about it. These guys understand what’s at stake and what’s going on.”

Yes, they do.

“At the end of the day, it’s in our control,” All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas said. “And what better way can you ask for it than we can do it ourselves? We don’t have to depend on anybody.”

Added leading receiver Golden Tate: “This is a great game to start heating up into the playoffs. So we’re going to try to go out and play some dominant football ... and see what we can do. But we’re excited to get back on the field.”   

As for this being the third time in four weeks that the Seahawks can get it done, Carroll offered, “We would have played this game to the hilt, no matter what had happened before. So we’re going to try to do it again. We’re not a team that’s going to go ahead and sit down and take a knee and just hopefully get through the game. We don’t do that.

“So the fact that there’s something at stake, legitimately, is good for us. And we’ll try to make the most of it. Everybody would have liked to have gotten it done earlier, but I don’t know if that would have been what’s best for us.”

INJURY REPORT: NOT TODAY

The Seahawks did not have to issue an injury report, even though they practiced, because it’s Tuesday. The first injury report of the week will be issued Wednesday.

YOU DON'T SAY

“This division used to be the laughing stock of football. Now everybody that plays this division knows that this is the best division in football.”

All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas on the NFC West, which features three of the NFL’s Top 10 defenses and three of the five teams with 10-plus victories in the NFC

But as Carroll said Monday, right guard J.R. Sweezy has been cleared to return after missing Sunday’s game with a concussion. Cornerback Walter Thurmond also has rejoined the team after serving his league-imposed four-game suspension and the team has a roster exemption for him.

FALCONS FANS, FOR A NIGHT

The Seahawks were watching Monday night when the Atlanta Falcons came tantalizing close to upsetting the 49ers in the final regular-season game that will ever be played at Candlestick Park. A Falcons’ victory would have given the Seahawks the NFC West title, but the 49ers prevailed.

Thomas was with the rest of the Legion of Boom for their annual rookie party.

“It just shows how football can take it from you or it can give you what you want,” he said. “That was just a great game, just to be a fan and watch it come all the way down to the wire. We were just watching it as a group and obviously it didn’t happen like the way we wanted.”

STATS ’N STUFF: TURNOVERS R US

The Seahawks lead the NFL in interceptions (26), total takeaways (37) and turnover differential (plus-18) after their four-interception performance in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. QB Russell Wilson has thrown nine interceptions, allowing the Seahawks to tie for the second fewest in the league behind the 49ers (eight).

STAT DU JOUR: MARSHAWN LYNCH, THE RECEIVER

Marshawn Lynch would need 430 rushing yards against the Rams to match his career-high total from last season (1,590). But he already has career-highs in receiving yards and TD catches. Here’s a look at his best seasons as a receiver:

Year, team No. Yards Avg. TD
2013, Seahawks  35 312 8.9 2
2008, Bills  47 300 6.4 1
2011, Seahawks  28 212 7.6 1
2012, Seahawks 23 196 8.5 1
2007, Bills 18 184 10.2 0

The defense continues to league the league in average yards (281.3) and average passing yards (173.8) allowed, while ranking No. 13 in average rushing yards allowed (107.5). The offense slipped to No. 4 in average rushing yards (138.5) and is 14th overall (343.7) and 26th in average passing yards (205.2).

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman has eight interceptions, four in the past two games, to lead the NFL. Thomas is tied for fourth with five.

Steven Hauschka slipped to No. 4 in scoring (134 points), while Marshawn Lynch is third in scoring among non-kickers (78 points). Lynch also is second in the league in rushing touchdowns (11), sixth in rushing yards (1,160), seventh in total yards (1,472) and fifth in first downs (73). Hauschka is eighth with 45 touchbacks on his kickoffs.

Tate is sixth in punt return average (12.0), while quarterback Russell Wilson ranks seventh in passer rating (101.1) and eighth in third-down passer rating (91.0).

UP NEXT: SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS

The players and coaches will have Wednesday off after practicing on Tuesday, which is normally the players’ “off” day while the coaches compile the game plan.

All will return Thursday to continuing preparing for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Rams.

Carroll altered the schedule because a similar switch to give the players Thanksgiving Day off ended with a 34-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football.”

“Everything we do, we try to have a sense of, ‘We’ve done it before,’ ” Thomas said before Tuesday’s practice. “It was Thanksgiving then, it’s Christmas now, and it worked out fine for us. And I think it will work out the same.”