Jacked as is the community — and to some extent, the football nation — over the NFC championship game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will see your adrenal-gland wager and raise it.
“Hours of sleep are short,” he said on his weekly radio show on ESPN 710. “But we’re kicking into it. It is a blast – in the playoffs, playing at home and having 60 minutes between now and the Super Bowl. It’s a thrill to be in this setting.”
Give credit to Carroll for avoiding the usual coach-mumble about just another game. He knows the last 12 months in Renton and Santa Clara, CA., the 49ers’ headquarters, have been a power grind to get to Sunday’s moment between the two best teams in the NFC, which pack in all the passion/contempt/fear/joy that two ultra-competitive brothers bring to a backyard fistfight.
“The fact that we have this familiarity makes it a really cool match-up,”he said. “We’ll all be deep into it. It’s one everyone likes to see, (the 49ers) don’t mind it, we don’t mind it one bit, either. From early in the year, these were the teams people were talking about. There’s no better match-up you could find in the NFC.
“Geez, they played well though the end of the season. They were consistent with their running and throwing games. The quarterbacks and receivers, with their playmaking, have always been really good. It’s a really well-equipped football team coming in against a really well-equipped football team. Could be a great match.”
Each rematch prompts a more intense focus. The teams split the regular-season games, each winning at home, Seattle 29-3 and San Francisco 19-17.
“The variables are different,” he said. “We know what we’ve done well against them, and what hasn’t worked. It’s a chess match, how to emphasize certain things we’ve done, and how to take advantage of what they do.”
Given the pre-eminence on both teams of the defenses, another low-scoring game is foreseen, which suits Carroll just fine. As it did against the Saints Saturday. The Seahawks won 23-15 with only 277 yards of offense and quarterback Russell Wilson completing only 9 of 18 passes for a career low 103 yards.
He reminded that in the Week 2 win over the Niners, the Seahawks had only 290 yards of offense and Wilson was 8 for 19 for 118 yards, yet they won by 26.
“We’ve had games where we put up a lot of points, but sometimes that’s not really needed,” he said. “This is a one-game thing. You play the game to get the thing won. You’ve got to play the clock and use all of your opportunities.”
Given the wet, blustery conditions Saturday, Carroll was happy that the script he wrote played out.
“It was a really good football game for us because we played it like we imagined it,” he said. “We were ready for the conditions, and didn’t let conditions affect us. We were going to the running game, defense and special teams. It turned out like we thought.
“We could have played better. We didn’t stop the run like we wanted to. But we shut them out in the first half. (Saints QB Drew) Brees wasn’t throwing it because of the wind, and he threw for 5,000 yards this year. When they the run the ball, they’re not playing in the manner you’d think. It worked out OK.”
No update on Harvin
The status of WR Percy Harvin won’t be known until Wednesday or Thursday as he works through the NFL protocol for concussions.
“It was fun to have him out there,” Carroll said of Harvin’s second game this season, in which he had five passes sent his way, catching three for 21 yards. “We’re fortunate to have the extra day, which helps in these situations.”
Carroll said he was having no part of the Seattle fan sentiment that the Saints were deliberately targeting Harvin’s head to get him out of the game.
“No,” he said. “The plays that happened, just happened. I don’t feel like that was an issue at all.”