Plenty of Seahawks fans seemed to be annoyed that the NFL put the Seahawks down for a 10 a.m. playoff game (noon Minnesota time) next Sunday, and some even went so far as to scream bloody conspiracy.
If you were one of those unreasonably irked fans, you are going to be even more upset when you learn the Seahawks — assuming they win — will play another 10 a.m. game the next Sunday in Carolina. (As the No. 6 seed, Seattle would play at the No. 1 seed in the divisional round.)
In fact, it wouldn’t be until the NFC title game that the Seahawks would play an afternoon game. On Jan. 24, the NFC game will kick off at 3:40 p.m. — after the AFC Super Bowl team is determined.
Fans have gotten used to the Seahawks playing 1 p.m. or later games because the team has been the NFC’s No. 1 seed the past two years — and thus has had home-field advantage. In fact, the last time the Hawks played a 10 a.m. playoff game was in January 2013, when they went to Atlanta and lost 30-28 in the final seconds.
The Seahawks have gone 7-5 in 10 a.m. games the past three years. They were 2-2 this year, losing at St. Louis in the opener (in overtime) and blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter in Cincinnati.
However, all of those worry warts need to recall also that the Hawks blew out Minnesota 38-7 in a 10 a.m. game in Week 13 (and also Baltimore the next week). Oh, and Seattle also beat Carolina in 10 a.m. kickoffs during both Super Bowl seasons.
Why would anyone be concerned about a 10 a.m. game at this point?
It’s fitting that Pete Carroll gets to take Seattle’s No. 1 scoring defense back to Bud Grant’s house next week.
As we all know by now, Grant was Carroll’s most significant mentor — the architect of the Purple People Eaters defense that was the league’s stingiest unit from 1969 to 1971.
Carroll’s crew just capped off a four-year run as the No. 1 scoring defense — a feat that had not been accomplished since the dominant 1950s Cleveland Browns, who did it five straight years in a 12-team league. Clearly, this is a much more significant accomplishment — coming in a 32-team league during an era in which the rules heavily favor offense.
Carroll was fired up about holding the league’s No. 1 offense to six points and finishing two points better than Cincinnati.
“I don’t know if there is a record that I could be more proud of than to see our guys go for four straight years and lead the league in scoring defense,” he said. “I think that is a remarkable accomplishment by a bunch of guys dedicated to the program and what we are doing. It’s hard to do things over a long period of time that well, and that is something about outlasting the opportunity and making sure that you get it done.
“Steven Terrell makes a knockdown at the goal line and to ice it (DeShawn) Shead makes an interception right there,” Carroll said, reliving Arizona’s last drive, which threatened to ruin the streak. “We knew what was going on on the sidelines. The guys were having a ball, trying to get it done, and the offense was trying to keep the football to let that happen. That’s a really cool accomplishment, so we take great pride in that one.”
Carroll got to see Grant, his 88-year-old mentor, when the Seahawks destroyed the Vikings 38-7 in Week 13. And now he will go back to Minnesota having done something Grant’s stellar Vikings defenses never did.
“Of all of the stats, that is the one that takes the most and demonstrates the most,” Carroll said. “We are really proud of that.”
The Minnesota-Green Bay game on Sunday night did more than settle Seattle’s playoff destination: It determined which NFC North team the Seahawks will face in 2016.
The Seahawks will play a second-place schedule next season, which means they will once again face the Green Bay Packers, who finished second to the Vikings in the North.
The Packers and Philadelphia Eagles were the only unknowns entering Week 17. The Hawks already were set to face the NFC South, AFC East and, of course, NFC West.
The Seahawks and Packers will face off for the fifth time in five years (assuming the teams don’t meet in the NFC title game again this season — a safe assumption considering how pathetic the Packers have become). Like this year, that game will be in Green Bay.
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