Packers victory over the Eagles means Seattle will travel to Chicago for a 10 a.m. game next Sunday.
Only one of the Seahawks’ seven victories during the regular season came against a team that made the playoffs.
That just so happens to be the team Seattle is playing next in the playoffs: the Chicago Bears.
Green Bay defeated host Philadelphia 21-16 Sunday in the NFC’s second wild-card game, and as the No. 6-seeded team in the NFC playoffs, the Packers advance to play the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.
That sends Seattle to Chicago to face the Bears on Sunday. The divisional playoff game, which begins at 10 a.m. PST, is a rematch of the regular-season game the Seahawks won 23-20 on Oct. 17.
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Just don’t expect coach Pete Carroll to make too much of that win, or of the fact that Chicago opened as a 10-point favorite. He’s not going to mention that any more than he emphasized the fact Seattle was the largest home underdog in NFL playoff history against the Saints this past weekend.
“I never mentioned that one time,” Carroll said after Saturday’s victory. “That just doesn’t fit in the way we talk. If we used that kind of a motivational vehicle, then what would we use next week, and what would we use the week after that?”
You’d have to start holding up this coach that disrespected you, or that player who’s so good, or changing the historical trend of struggling to play well on the road. If a coach keeps bringing out straw men, he’ll develop a team that needs some sort of perceived slight or a certain opponent to work up a lather. And that’s not the kind of team Carroll wants.
He would much rather his team focus on something else — namely, itself. Players had Sunday off and will return to the team’s headquarters Monday to begin preparing for Chicago.
“It’s really important for us to understand that we’re the ones we’re dealing with,” Carroll said. “We have to control what we do.”
And from that respect, Seattle’s performance in Chicago stands as proof of the Seahawks’ capabilities. It was the best regular-season game they played, defeating the Bears at a time when they had the best record in the NFC.
But that was also more than two months ago, and back then the Bears were still sorting out their pass-protection issues and the ground game was an afterthought. Chicago rushed the ball just 14 times in that game, one of five times in the Bears’ first eight games that they finished with fewer than 20 carries. Chicago ran fewer than 20 times only once in its final eight games.
The Seahawks were different back then, too. Red Bryant was starting at defensive end, and the Seahawks ranked second in the league in rush defense. Seattle finished the year No. 21 in that category.
Mike Williams caught 10 passes in that game, the most by any Seahawk in three years. The defense forced eight Chicago punts, the most for any Seahawks opponent until the regular-season finale, when St. Louis punted nine times.
The result was Seattle’s first road victory against an opponent with a winning record since September 2007.
But that regular-season victory won’t mean anything more on Sunday than Seattle’s regular-season loss in New Orleans did this past Saturday.
And that’s just the way Carroll wants it.
“What’s clear to me is that we have a bunch of guys that are really together on how we think and how we approach our opportunities,” Carroll said after Saturday’s victory.
“They realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with what’s outside. It has to do with what we do.”
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org