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New Year’s Eve in Hawkville: Seahawks have played to expectations, so far

Posted Dec 31, 2013

Tabbed as the best team in the NFL and a favorite to play in the Super Bowl before ever playing a game this season, the Seahawks have handled those heightened expectations just the way they needed to.


A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 31, when the players were “off” for the first of two consecutive days as the Seahawks use their bye week in the playoffs to get some rest before returning to practice on Thursday and Friday:

WORD OF THE DAY: EXPECTATIONS

That’s what the Seahawks entered this season with, and that’s what they met during the regular season. And make that heightened expectations, as the Seahawks were tabbed as the best team in the NFL and a favorite to play in the Super Bowl before they ever had their first team meeting in April.

Coach Pete Carroll addressed those externally generated heightened expectations at the first meeting with his players, and the message of how to handle them apparently sunk in.

YOU DON'T SAY

Russell Wilson is pretty good. His 52 touchdown passes are tied with Peyton Manning for second most by a quarterback in his first two seasons. The leader? Dan Marino (68).”

ESPN.com, in keeping the Seahawks at No. 1 in its final Power Rankings

The Seahawks went 13-3 to capture the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The defense ranked No. 1 in just about every category, from average points allowed to average yards allowed. The offense got a career-best 14 touchdowns from Marshawn Lynch and an even better passer rating from Russell Wilson (101.2) than he had during his impressive rookie season (100.0). The special teams used the strong right legs of Steven Hauschka and Jon Ryan to rank No. 5 in the league. The Seahawks posted the best road record in franchise history (6-2). And they beat three other NFC teams that also advanced to the postseason – the Panthers (12-4), 49ers (12-4) and Saints (11-5), who had second-, third- and fourth-best records in the conference.

“It was a huge issue, it is for anybody who has expectations to wind up in the Super Bowl before you’ve ever even played a game. That’s as big a expectations as you can have,” said coach Pete Carroll, who inherited a team in 2010 that was coming off 4-12 and 5-11 seasons and has turned it into one that has gone 11-5 and 13-3 the past two seasons.

“I think I’m probably as proud of that as anything. We handled it the whole time. We’ve dealt with it throughout the season and put it in the right place. The guys understood what it meant, and what it didn’t mean, and performed under that kind of scrutiny. And here we are. To get the division taken care of and to have the best record and all that under those expectations, we dealt with it.

“So that’s a really good thing. That’s how you make expectations like that normal, and we did that.”

PERCY, PART II

Included in one of Carroll’s many responses to one of the many questions he was asked about Percy Harvin after saying the multitalented player would practice Thursday, was this very telling indication of just how far Harvin has come since having hip surgery Aug. 1.

STAT DU JOUR: RUSSELL WILSON PART OF HISTORIC GROUP

Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ second-year QB, was part of a group of seven quarterbacks to fashion 100-plus passer ratings in the just-concluded regular season. That’s an NFL record, surpassing the previous high of five from 2009. Here’s a look at the Super Seven that Wilson was part of:

Player, team Rating
Nick Foles, Eagles 119.2
Peyton Manning, Broncos 115.1
Josh McCown, Bears 109.0
Philip Rivers, Chargers 105.5
Aaron Rodgers, Packers 104.9
Drew Brees, Saints 104.7
Russell Wilson, Seahawks 101.2

Note: Last season, Wilson (100.0) joined Rodgers (108.0), Manning (105.8) and Robert Griffin III (102.4) as the only QBs in the “100” club.

“He had major surgery on his hip. There are a lot of people who walk around for years getting back from that. He’s trying to do it in months,” Carroll said on Monday. “He’s not trying to just get back to being a normal human being walking down the street; he goes a million miles an hour and throws his body everywhere. He has to be perfectly fit to do that.”

STATS ’N STUFF: BOBBY WAGNER WITH THE STOP

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks in tackles for the second time in his two-season career with 119, despite missing two games at midseason with a sprained ankle. Wagner had a club rookie-record 140 tackles last season. Wagner is the ninth players to lead the team in tackles in consecutive seasons, joining Terry Beeson (1977-79), Michael Jackson (1980-82), Fredd Young (1985-87), Eugene Robinson (1988-89 and 1992-93), Chad Brown (1997-99), Anthony Simmons (2000-01), Lofa Tatupu (2005-08) and David Hawthorne (2009-11).

All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas finished second with a career-high 100 tackles. It’s the first time the Seahawks have had two players with at least 100 tackles since 2009, when Hawthorne had 116 and Jordan Babineaux had 105.

Jeremy Lane led the Seahawks with 13 coverage tackles on special teams. His total is the fewest to lead the team since Chris Warren, Rod Stephens and David Daniels each had 12 in 1991. But there were fewer chances this season, as Steven Hauschka had 48 touchbacks on kickoffs and only 21 of Jon Ryan’s 74 punts were returned – for 82 yards, second-fewest in the league.

REMEMBERING MIKE McCORMACK

A memorial service for Mike McCormack will be held Thursday, Jan. 23, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Springs (43775 Deep Canyon Road). The service will start at 10:30 a.m. and be followed by a reception.

McCormack, a former president, general manager and interim coach for the Seahawks, died Nov. 15. He was 83.

UP NEXT: HAPPY NEW YEAR

The players are “off” Wednesday, New Year’s Day, and will return Thursday for the first of two “Bonus Day” practices during their playoff bye week. Who they host in their Jan. 11 divisional playoff game at CenturyLink Field will be determined this weekend – when the No. 5-seed 49ers play the No. 4-seed Packers in Green Bay and the No. 6-seed Saints play the No. 3-seed Eagles in Philadelphia. The Seahawks will play the lowest-seeded remaining team, with the highest-seed team playing the Panthers in Carolina on Jan. 12.

Hawkville also will take New Year’s Day off, but we’ll have our fourth-quarter honor roll – including what might be a surprise selection for MVP during the final four regular-season games.