On Sunday, the Seahawks host
the Arizona Cardinals, they have an 8-4 record and they have the opportunity to
clinch the NFC West.
And the last thing Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren wants is a repeat of last season,
when the Seahawks lost their focus at an inopportune time and nearly saw their
entire season collapse.
With a two-game lead on the Cardinals, a win would give Seattle a three-game lead
with three to play, as well as the tiebreaker, an insurmountable lead. "If
you remember last year, in a very similar situation, we didn't handle that positioning
here last year at that particular time," Holmgren said. "We let a couple
of games get away from us, and as a result it got really tense at the end. Unacceptable
letdown of some kind last year, so we can't let it happen again."
Holmgren said he spoke to the team on Wednesday morning about not relaxing after
earning two big road victories. Don't take a victory for granted just because
they are playing at home and get an additional boost from the crowd. The players
have to create their own energy, Holmgren told them.
"There was such effort and such emotion tied in with the last two weeks,"
Holmgren said. "We have to still play with the same intensity. Just because
now we're home, and you get to sleep in your own bed an extra night, and you're
not on an airplane a long time, we cannot relax for one second.
"The month of December decides everything for everybody, and we have four
games now that will determine, for everybody in the league, where we are if you're
a playoff team. So I asked them to crank it up one more notch, because while they've
done some great things, our season's just starting right now and we've got to
crank it up and get going here."
The Seahawks have at least some additional incentive because when the teams met
the first time, the Seahawks kicked the game away at the end when Shaun Alexander
and Matt Hasselbeck botched a snap, giving the ball back to Arizona.
Neil Rackers ended up kicking a 41-yard field goal with one second left to win
"It was really bad how that game ended," Holmgren said. "You don't
expect that to happen. It is like anything else in our business that is as automatic
as it can be, the quarterback handing off to the running back. We didn't execute
it and lost the game because of it. There are other reasons, but I think we had
a chance there to kick a field goal. You just don't expect it."
SERIES HISTORY: 18th meeting. Cardinals lead the series, 9-8, and have won two
in a row after Seattle captured the previous four. Both wins were in Phoenix.
The Seahawks have won four consecutive home games over Arizona.
--The last time the teams played, the Seahawks, second in the league in sacks,
were unable to record one because Matt Leinart kept getting rid of the ball
--When Arizona QB Kurt Warner first came into the NFL, he was in a minicamp
in Green Bay with Mike Holmgren, the Packers' coach at the time. Holmgren cut
Warner, and he went overseas to compete before coming back to the league. "Every
time I see him, he gives an obligatory hello and asks why I cut him," Holmgren
--QB Matt Hasselbeck's brother, Tim, is a backup QB for the Cardinals. "I'm
sure we'll talk this week but we won't talk football," Matt Hasselbeck
said. "There's nothing good that can come out of that. I can't talk with
my mother about injuries because I know it will go right down the chain of command."
--Seahawks LB Lofa Tatupu had three interceptions in a victory over the Eagles
on Sunday. The last time Tatupu had an interception this season, it came against
Arizona in the second week of the season. "Is there any way we can negotiate
getting him off the field," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
--After the botched handoff at the end of the last meeting, which came about
because of a dummy audible by Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks QB said they did
not dummy audible for a month after that. They have started again. "We
just sort of earned the responsibility back to be allowed to do that,"
--Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander needs one TD to reach 100 for his career. Alexander
scored his first TD last week since the second week of the season.
--DE Patrick Kerney will be named NFC Defensive Player of the Month after getting
seven sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception at a time that the Seahawks
have gone 4-0.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- The number of offensive line combinations the Seahawks
used last week after keeping the same line intact all season. Floyd Womack last
week played left tackle, left guard and right guard.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Who is who? I guess I'm John Stockton." -- Seahawks
QB Matt Hasselbeck, when asked if he and WR Bobby Engram had a Stockton-to-Malone
type of relationship.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Seahawks waived fullback Fred McCrary and signed former special teams player
Josh Scobey. They also placed safety C.J. Wallace on injured reserve, signed
Kevin Hobbs from the practice squad and signed Omowale Dada to replace Hobbs
on the practice squad. The Seahawks needed some depth on special teams and in
the defensive backfield because of an injury to Josh Wilson, the team's dime
back, and on kickoff coverage, which Wallace played. Scobey played 28 games
in the past for Seattle. He also can be an up blocker on kickoff returns.
Also, coach Mike Holmgren said he will platoon Floyd Womack and Rob Sims at
left guard for the rest of the year, if only to allow Sims to take a breather
and watch from the side for some series. "That is another way you learn,"
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--C Chris Spencer has a strained oblique and sat out Wednesday's practice. However,
he is expected to play Sunday.
--WR D.J. Hackett is progressing more quickly from a high-ankle sprain than
initially anticipated but is wearing a boot and will be out against Arizona.
--CB Josh Wilson sat out Wednesday' practice with a pulled quad and will miss
--LB Will Herring has recovered from a hamstring injury and is expected to play
against the Cardinals, his first action in three weeks.
--S C.J. Wallace suffered a knee injury and was placed on injured reserve.
GAME PLAN: Even though the Seahawks went back to a more balanced attack against
Philadelphia last week, they should return to the pass this week. The Cardinals
are 24th in the league in pass defense, and they have lost star defensive back
Adrian Wilson, giving Matt Hasselbeck less fear about Arizona's secondary. Also,
defensive coordinator John Marshall may send everybody after immobile Kurt Warner,
particularly if WRs Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are sidelined with injuries.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Cardinals RB Edgerrin James vs. Seattle's defensive line.
James had 132 yards rushing in the last meeting, and that was when the Seahawks
had Chuck Darby on the field. Now, he is on injured reserve and rookie Brandon Mebane has taken Darby's place.
Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. Arizona's secondary. In Hasselbeck's last two
meetings with Arizona, he has four TD passes, zero interceptions and a 111.7
passer rating. The Seahawks are 34-11 when Hasselbeck has a rating better than
INJURY IMPACT: C Chris Spencer has a strained oblique and will get limited time
in practice this week. It could alter the Seahawks' continuity because RG Chris Gray is Spencer's replacement at center, meaning the line is in a state of flux
all week in practice.
With CB Josh Wilson out for two weeks at least, the Seahawks need to determine
who their dime back is going to be. It was not such an issue against Philadelphia
last week because the Seahawks dropped a LB into coverage, but it probably needs
to be figured out against an Arizona team that likes to see Warner pass.