High-scoring Seattle turns focus to San Francisco

As the Seahawks flew back from Toronto late Sunday night, nearly

every person on Seattle’s charter was glued to what was happening

in New England – watching to see if the Seahawks could be playing

for the NFC West division lead this weekend.

San Francisco didn’t play along, beating the Patriots and

keeping a 1 1/2-game lead in the division.

So while the division lead won’t be at stake when the 49ers

visit, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday his team will have no

problem getting focused especially knowing that a victory will put

the Seahawks into the postseason for the second time in three

years.

The Seahawks (9-5) need one win in their final two games to at

least wrap up a wild-card berth.

A win over San Francisco would keep alive Seattle’s slim hopes

of the division title.

”It’s a big division finish for us and we’ll see how it goes,”

Carroll said, noting the Seahawks close at home with NFC West foes

San Francisco and St. Louis.

”All we can do is focus on this game right here. We’ll have no

trouble focusing. They’re a great team and coming home and all that

it will be exciting to get ready.”

The Seahawks are coming off their 50-17 rout of Buffalo on

Sunday that followed a 58-0 win over Arizona, making Seattle the

first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in consecutive

weeks.

It’s a rarified spot in the record books for a franchise that

scored at least 50 just twice in their first 36-plus seasons and

now have matched that total the past two weeks.

In Carroll’s first two seasons, the Seahawks biggest scoring

outburst came in the 2010 playoffs when they beat New Orleans

41-36.

”We’re surprised at the scores the last couple of weeks, but

we’re really thrilled about it and we’re going to see if we can

keep going and keep growing and keep pushing it and see how far we

can take it,” Carroll said.

While the scores the past two weeks have appeared to be somewhat

an anomaly, the Seahawks were trending upward in scoring even

before the two blowouts.

Over the past eight weeks, the Seahawks are the second-highest

scoring team in the NFL at 33.4 points per game, trailing only New

England.

The past two weeks have substantially altered the curve, but

even before the blowouts of Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks had

scored at least 20 points in each game going back to Week 8 against

Detroit. That stretch of seven straight games with at least 20

points is the longest since 2007, which is the last time the

Seahawks had a 10-win season.

It was back in Week 8 – after losing 13-6 in a lackluster

offensive effort at San Francisco – that Seattle started to tweak

its offensive plans and give rookie quarterback Russell Wilson more

freedom.

The zone-read was added to the run game, allowing Wilson the

ability to keep and use his athleticism or handoff to Marshawn

Lynch. That little wrinkle has paid off especially the past three

weeks.

Wilson ran for 71 yards in Seattle’s overtime win at Chicago

three weeks ago – then a Seattle team record – then rushed for 92

yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win over Buffalo.

At the same time, the holes have become larger for Lynch because

the defense must now respect Wilson as a runner. In his past two

games, Lynch has just 21 carries, but rushed for 241 yards, four

touchdowns and averaged 11.5 yards per carry.

Through the first 11 games, Lynch had 19 runs of 10 or more

yards. In the past three games, he has 14. Wilson has vaulted up to

third in the league in yards rushing among quarterbacks with a

franchise single-season record 402 yards.

”It all fits together. The problems that are presented with the

quarterback runs make for some opportunities,” Carroll said. ”…

What’s really exciting is what we’re doing up front too with the

blocking and figuring out the schemes and reading well and taking

advantage of the looks.”

While the offense is rolling along, there remain some injury

concerns defensively. Seattle played Sunday without cornerbacks

Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant and Carroll said he’s unsure of

their status for this week.

Both have hamstring injuries and Thurmond was stepping in to

replace suspended starter Brandon Browner.

Sidney Rice played against the Bills, but continues to be slowed

by foot and toe injuries that Carroll said could be something he

has to deal with the rest of the season. Carroll did get

encouraging news that defensive tackle Alan Branch’s ankle injury

wasn’t as severe as first believed. Branch will likely be held out

of practice until Friday.

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