Seattle knows stakes, but not hyping Arizona trip
RENTON, Wash. (AP) After the drama and turmoil early in the season, the Seattle Seahawks are where they expected to be with two weeks left, on the cusp of being back in the playoffs and with a chance at still landing the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Two victories - beginning with Sunday's showdown at Arizona - would give the Seahawks (10-4) their second straight NFC West title.
But the last thing Pete Carroll plans on doing this week is mentioning the importance of facing the Cardinals on Sunday night.
''Not any mention of it. That's not stuff we talk about. It's so obvious why we don't talk about it,'' Carroll said on Monday. ''We've been preparing for championship games all season long and playing like they are, and the more you do that the more comfortable I hope we feel with the big setting that this one brings and all the hype that people are going to put on it. We're not going to play any different.
''We're going to try and play the same football we've been playing and that means we're going to give it everything we got and we're going to try and go all out to get a win and take it to next week.''
Seattle put itself in position where another division title and the No. 1 seed is a possibility thanks to its four-game win streak that included Sunday's 17-7 win over San Francisco that eliminated the 49ers from postseason contention.
As it was for most of last season, the defense has been at the forefront of Seattle's surge. San Francisco became the fourth straight opponent held under 250 total yards. And only once in the past nine games have the Seahawks allowed a team to gain more than 300 yards. None of their past four opponents have gained 100 yards in the second half.
Seattle leads the NFL in yards allowed per game at 272.4, a pace that is ahead of what it accomplished last season. The Seahawks are the only team in the NFL giving up fewer than 300 total yards and one of two allowing fewer than 200 yards per game passing.
Carroll's been pleased with the combination of Seattle's pass rush flustering quarterbacks lately to go along with the blanket coverage in the secondary.
''We're getting real good continuity now. We're covering aggressively, we're playing tight, guys are challenging and making their breaks on the ball and the more that we feel the rush the harder it is on the quarterback,'' Carroll said.
''That is a real good part of our game right now. We're going to try and keep pushing it. I always think it starts up front with the guys rushing the passer, but we certainly feed off one another and it will certainly be important down the stretch.''
For all the praise toward Seattle's defense lately, the Seahawks have concerns about the offensive line going into Sunday's game at Arizona.
Center Max Unger has missed the past four games and while he'll practice on Wednesday, Carroll said he's still not 100 percent after suffering ankle and knee injuries in Week 11 at Carolina.
Left tackle Russell Okung suffered a bruised lung on the final play of the first half Sunday and will likely miss this week baring a significant change.
''It sounds like it's a week or two unless we get a really good report. We're going to hope for the best and see how he does. He really wants to play if he can,'' Carroll said of Okung.
Okung was injured trying to chase down San Francisco's Eric Reid on an interception return. He was hit hard by San Francisco defensive tackle Ray McDonald throwing a block on the return. Okung appeared to be spitting up blood as he left the field at halftime and was checked out at a local hospital before being released.
Alvin Bailey would likely make his second start at left tackle and fifth overall this season if Okung can't go.
Carroll is also waiting to see how tight end Tony Moeaki recovers from a shoulder injury suffered against the 49ers, but the Seahawks expected reserve tight end Cooper Helfet (ankle) back this week.
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