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Monday in Hawkville: Seahawks prepared to run into NFL’s top-ranked run defense

Posted Dec 16, 2013

A Seahawks’ running game that hasn’t been as productive in the past four games will prepare this week to face an Arizona Cardinals defense that is allowing the fewest average rushing yards in the league.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 16, which was “Tell The Truth Monday” as the players and coaches reviewed Sunday’s 23-0 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium:

WORDS OF THE DAY: GROUNDS FOR CONCERN

The Arizona Cardinals team that comes to CenturyLink Field on Sunday features, among other things, the NFL’s No. 1-ranked run defense.

That also happens to be the only defensive category where the Seahawks aren’t No. 1, as they rank atop the league in average yards (279.5) and average passing yards (174.2) allowed. But the Cardinals are allowing an average of 83.2 rushing yards per game, as well as 3.6 yards per carry which ranks No. 2 behind the New York Jets (3.2).

In a game where the Seahawks can clinch the NFC West title, a first-round bye in the playoff and home-field advantage throughout the postseason with a victory, the Cardinals’ stingy run defense provides grounds for concern because the Seahawks’ running game has not been as productive in recent weeks.

After rushing for 211 yards against the Falcons in Atlanta in Week 10, the Seahawks have had 93, 127, 86 and 134 in the past four games. And, after running for 145 yards against the Falcons, leading rusher Marshawn Lynch has averaged 55.3 against the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.

YOU DON'T SAY

“Massive line of demarcation.”

Peter King, after ranking the Seahawks No. 1 and before ranking the 49ers No. 2 in the “Fine Fifteen” portion of his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com

“Good teams playing us and missing some opportunities; some penalties a week ago made a huge difference in what happened,” coach Pete Carroll said in his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media when asked about the difference between what was going on against the Falcons and what has been happening the past month.

Despite running for fewer yards the past month, Lynch continues to find the end zone. He had a 2-yard touchdown run against the Giants that was his fifth TD in the past four games – and 11th rushing TD this season.

Carroll isn’t troubled by the diminished yardage totals.

“I think we’re OK,” he said. “We’re still going to pound away at it and keep working, keep getting our numbers and our attempts up there. It’s a matter of breaking one. It makes a difference in those stats something.

“But the attitude about it is right and we’re on it and we’re consistent with it. So I’m fine about it. We’d like to get more production and I would think it will happen. We’re going against the best rush defense in the NFL, so that’s going to be a great match for us. But we’re still going to pound away at it.”

INJURY UPDATES: BRANDON BROWNER IN THE RUNNING

Brandon Browner, the starting right cornerback who has missed the past four games with a groin injury, ran Monday and will again Tuesday. How he responds to that will help determine whether he’ll be available this week.

STAT DU JOUR: AND BYRON MAXWELL MAKES SEVEN

Cornerback Byron Maxwell became the seventh player in franchise history to intercept multiple passes in a Seahawks’ shutout during Sunday’s 23-0 victory over the Giants. All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman also had two, but he already was on the list after picking off two passes in last year’s 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. Maxwell and Sherman also are the third tandem to do it in the same game. Here’s a look at the group Maxwell joined, and Sherman re-joined:

Player, Opponent (date) No.
SS Kenny Easley, at Chargers (Oct. 29, 1984) 3
CB Dave Brown, at Redskins (Sept. 28, 1980) 2
CB Terry Taylor, Chiefs (Nov. 4, 1984)  2
CB Dave Brown, Chiefs (Nov. 4, 1984) 2
SS Reggie Tongue, at Cardinals (Sept. 14, 2003) 2
MLB Bobby Wagner, Cardinals (Dec. 9, 2012) 2
CB Richard Sherman, Cardinals (Dec. 9, 2012) 2
CB Byron Maxwell, at Giants (Dec. 15, 2013) 2
CB Richard Sherman, at Giants (Dec. 15, 2013) 2

“We’ll see how he does and we’ll see what happens,” Carroll said. “We don’t know.”

Carroll also said the linebacker K.J. Wright, who had surgery last week on his right foot, could begin running in four or five weeks.

All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas (thigh) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (stinger) were injured in Sunday’s game, but Carroll said both players are fine.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: DEFENSE WAS JUST AS GOOD AS IT LOOKED

The video review of the defensive effort against the Giants looked just as good as the on-field performance did Sunday, when the Seahawks had five interceptions while holding the Giants to 181 yards.

“It was obviously a big day for the defense and it just played really, really well,” Carroll said. “There was just no phase of any aspect of what we were doing that wasn’t on it. The pressure was great. The run defense was there. The coverage was excellent. And the playmaking was there, too. So it was a big day for us.”

The five interceptions were the second most in the 18 shutouts in franchise history, behind a six-pick effort in a 45-0 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at the Kingdome on Nov. 4, 1984. The yardage total allowed ranks No. 8 – with the lowest total in a shutout being the 120 yielded to the Cleveland Browns in the 1984 season opener at the Kingdome.

UP NEXT: KAM CHANCELLOR TO SIGN AUTOGRAH AT PRO SHOP

The players have their “off” day on Tuesday, when the coaches will be compiling the game plan for the matchup against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.

Strong safety Kam Chancellor will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.