If the Seattle Seahawks lose Sunday to the Robert Griffin III-led Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, they will not be able to point to injuries as an excuse. In his final press conference before the NFC wild card game, coach Pete Carroll said Friday that he can’t recall having a healthier team at this time of year than he has now.
“We’re about as healthy as we could get,” said Carroll. “The two guys on the (injured) list are both probable, and everybody else is going fine. We’ve got some issues to figure out — who’s up and down, but other than that we’re very, very fortunate. You’re going to look at the same eleven on both sides that started the season so we’re pretty fortunate there. I can’t remember this ever happening. Maybe I’m more aware of it this time for some reason, but I can’t remember that ever happening.”
The two players at issue, DBs Jeremy Lane and Marcus Trufant, practiced this week. Carroll said Lane has a sore knee, but is ready to go. Trufant has already been slotted into Seattle’s nickel package.
The Seahawks, who have won five in a row and seven of their past eight, will also have back CB Brandon Browner. Browner has been absent for four weeks serving a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Carroll said Browner spent the week “knocking off the rust.”
“He’s trying to get back,” Carroll said. “It’s late in the season and the tempo in practice is not as high is it is earlier in the season, so he doesn’t get as much work. We have to bring him on slowly. We’ll be ready for him in case he gets tired or something. He seems to be in great shape. He ran the whole time (during the suspension) and everything looks fine, but we’re just going to watch him.”
The Seahawks have a dismal record against Washington in regular-season games — four wins, 11 losses, including the last six in a row — but are 2-0 against Washington in playoff contests. However, both wins, in 2006 and 2008, came in Seattle. The Seahawks have not won a road playoff game since Dec. 31, 1983, when they defeated rookie Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins 27-20. In the 30 years since, Seattle is 0-for-9 in road playoff contests, including a Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh in February 2006.
“Just think, how old is Earl Thomas?” Carroll said. “None of our guys even had a clue. They don’t even know who Ronald Reagan is (president the last time the Seahawks won a road playoff game). That just sheds some light on how much that factors in.”
To defeat Washington, Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense (15.5 points per game) not only needs to find a way to contain Griffin, a rookie quarterback voted to participate in the Pro Bowl, but rookie running back Alfred Morris, who had a 200-yard, 3-TD game against the Dallas Cowboys in Washington’s final game of the regular season. Morris ran for 100 or more yards in seven games this season.
With that 200-yard effort, Morris reached 1,613 yards and surpassed Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (1,590 yards) as the NFL’s second-leading rusher, behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.
“This is the best running team there is,” Carroll said of the Redskins. “What we have done is that we played really good defense by complementing both sides with the running game and the passing game, and keeping points down. What I’d like to do is just shut it down and do the things we need to do coverage-wise.
“We haven’t been as dominant numbers-wise. Our average per rush against us is higher than it’s been. I think we’re well away from the first San Francisco game. We made a bunch of errors there, and we’re not doing that kind of stuff now, hopefully. This is a whole different offense, a whole different style, and there could be some big spaces out there so hopefully we can keep those things down.”
While the Seahawks have won five in a row, the Redskins have won seven straight. Seattle is listed as a three-point favorite.