NFC West: Seattle Seahawks


SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Midway through the third quarter Thursday night, with the Seattle Seahawks leading the San Francisco 49ers 16-0, a good portion of the crowd at Levi’s Stadium left the building.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman noticed the exodus.

“Yeah, I waved to them goodbye,” Sherman said.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Sherman, who already had one interception in the game, had a warning for the 49ers.

“I was laughing the whole time,” Sherman said. “I told their sideline if they threw it my way I would end the game.”

That he did, coming up with his second interception and sealing a 19-3 victory in a dominating performance by the Seattle defense against an NFC West rival.

At this point, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick must be seeing Sherman in his nightmares.

Once again, Sherman was the star of the show, just as he was in the NFC Championship Game last season, making the game-saving deflection in the end zone (that Malcolm Smith intercepted) to secure the victory.

And once again, Sherman had plenty to say afterward. Not like the national TV rant in January in which he ripped 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, but Sherman made his point, just the same.

First were his feelings about the 49ers' fans.

“Somebody threw a glass bottle at the end,” Sherman said. “Every time we came through the tunnel, there were a lot of vulgar things being said. Sometimes you should let sleeping dogs lie. It makes you appreciate your own fans and how they stay for the whole game regardless of the outcome.”

Next was talk about his “history” with Kaepernick.

“What history? I know no history,” Sherman said. “There was an opponent [Kaepernick] who said he would throw it to the open man. He didn’t care who was out there [in coverage]. I was the open man.”

And he got in his little dig at Crabtree, who had three receptions for only 10 yards Thursday.

“I have respect for their receivers,” Sherman said. “Stevie [Johnson] is very talented. Anquan [Boldin] has been a terror in this league for a while. Brandon Lloyd as well. Obviously, you guys know I’m minus one.”

Sherman didn’t mention Crabtree one time all week. He never even mentioned the 49ers. His only public comments were his little satirical skit, with receiver Doug Baldwin, taking shots at the NFL over Marshawn Lynch's $100,000 fine for not talking.

Was that his way to deflect the attention away from the rivalry?

“In a way,” he admitted. “Some people said we weren’t focused, but we obviously were focused. We weren’t worried about the NFC Championship Game. That was last year. It just didn’t matter.”

What mattered was winning an important divisional matchup to improve to 8-4 and drop the 49ers to third place at 7-5 with only four games to play.

“We know them so well it’s like playing against your brothers,” Sherman said. “You know all their moves and what they’re going to do, so it comes down to will against will. It’s head-up, nose-to-nose, man-up football.”

Sherman won those battles again against the 49ers.

“Somebody said they threw at [Sherman] five times and he had two picks,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He was all over it. I’m really fired up for him because there’s been a lot of scrutiny [on Sherman] and a lot of people watching what he was going to do in this game. He went out and played really good fundamental football, as he has all season.”

Observed and heard in the Seattle Seahawks locker room after their 19-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers:

Cornerback Richard Sherman on the second of his two interceptions: “I was laughing. I told [the 49ers] on the sidelines not to throw at me or I would end the game.”

Sherman on some of the fans leaving in the third quarter: "I saw it. I waved bye to them.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson: “We came out with our boxing gloves on. I thought the fight in our eyes was unmatched. We pretty much were lights out the whole game. What we did tonight was pretty special.”

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 19-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday at Levi’s Stadium:

What it means: The Seahawks improved to 8-4, winning for the fifth time in the past six games. Seattle now is 12-1 in prime-time games since Pete Carroll became the head coach. It was the first road win against the 49ers since 2008, but Seattle has won four of the past five meetings.

Game ball: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick must see Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman in his nightmares. The man who sealed the victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game last season had two interceptions Thursday. Sherman made the first big play of the game, intercepting a Kaepernick pass near midfield in the first quarter to set up Seattle’s only touchdown. And Sherman sealed the victory with another interception in the fourth quarter. It was Sherman, of course, who made the game-saving tip in the end zone (that Malcolm Smith intercepted) to secure the victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

Stock watch: Tight end Tony Moeaki is the steal of the season. Learn how to pronounce this guy’s name because you’re going to hear it a lot. The Seahawks signed him as a free agent on Nov. 4. The former Kansas City Chiefs player now has six receptions for 98 yards and one TD in three games, including a 63-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter.

Definitive D: Another outstanding effort by the Seattle defense. The Seahawks have not allowed a touchdown in the past two games and have given up only six points. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had 10 tackles, including two for losses. And the sack attack is back. The Seahawks kept constant pressure on Kaepernick with Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin each recording a sack. The secondary blanketed the 49ers' receivers. San Francisco didn’t complete a pass longer than 16 yards, and that was to running back Carlos Hyde.

Beastly again: Marshawn Lynch rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries, including a lot of tough yards of the middle. It was an impressive effort on only four days rest.

Hausch money: Kicker Steven Hauschka has kicked eight field goals in the past two games, including four Thursday night. He is 8-of-9 in the two games and his only miss was a blocked kick.

Crazy punt: Rarely does a dropped snap on a punt turn out so well for the punting team. Seattle punter Jon Ryan dropped the snap, picked it up and had plenty of room to run for a first down, but kicked it. San Francisco returner Perrish Cox (a former Seahawk) fumbled after a hit by Ricardo Lockette and O’Brien Schofield recovered for the Seahawks at the San Francisco 40.

What’s next: The Seahawks will take the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend off before returning to work Monday to start preparing to play the 9-3 Eagles in Philadelphia on Dec. 7. It’s Seattle’s last game outside the NFC West. The Seahawks will close the regular season with three divisional games -- the 49ers at Seattle on Dec. 14, the Arizona Cardinals on the road in a Sunday night game on Dec. 21, and the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink on Dec. 28.

Seahawks at 49ers inactives

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
If you think Michael Crabtree’s issues with the Seattle Seahawks in general, Richard Sherman in particular, began in the NFC title game last season, think again. They might have just reached a crescendo with Sherman’s rant about Crabtree.

“I’m the best corner in the game,” he said after tipping away a potential game-winning fade pass from Colin Kaepernick to Crabtree in the end zone and turning it into a game-sealing interception.

“When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me … Crabtree, don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick. L.O.B.”

Legion of Boom aside, both Crabtree and Sherman are having subpar seasons. But Crabtree has never had real success against the Seahawks.

In nine games against Seattle, including the playoffs, Crabtree has yet to catch a touchdown pass, compared to seven TDs in nine regular-season games against the Arizona Cardinals and seven in 10 such games against the St. Louis Rams.

Then there’s this from ESPN Stats & Information: Crabtree has caught only 49.2 percent of his targets against Seattle in his career, compared to 64.0 percent against the rest of the NFL.

Crabtree’s career numbers against the Seahawks: 3.4 receptions per game. 38.9 receiving yards per game and six drops.

Keep in mind, only six of those games have come since the Seahawks drafted Sherman.

And in last January’s NFC Championship Game, while Crabtree did have four receptions, none came on the side of the field usually “patrolled” by Sherman, per ESPN Stats & Information.

But also keep this in mind: While Sherman led the league with eight interceptions last season, he has only one this season.

Neither player took questions from the media about the game in a short week.
RENTON, Wash. -- San Francisco 49ers rush linebacker Aldon Smith had two sacks last weekend in his first start of the season after a nine-game suspension. He now has 44 sacks in 45 career regular-season games.

That’s a scary thought for the Seahawks, coming off a game where quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked seven times in the 19-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

“We had all kinds of problems,” Seahawks coach Pete Carrol saidl. “We got beat one on one, we had some scheme issues, and we held the ball too long. To have that kind of an onslaught it took a lot of stuff.”

Two of the five starters could change for Thursday’s game. Left guard James Carpenter, who was having his best season before spraining his ankle and missing the last three games, is expected to return. He will replace Alvin Bailey, who struggled last week in pass protection.

It's also possible Lemuel Jeanpierre could start a center for Patrick Lewis. Jeanpierre spent the last three seasons with the Seahawks before being released in August with an injury settlement.

He is healthy now and was re-signed last week. Jeanpierre played well in three starts last year when Max Unger was hurt, so he could return to that duty now. Jeanpierre didn’t play last week, but had been back for only three days of practice after being gone three months.

“We will find out,” Carroll said about the starter at center. “We will let these guys battle again this week. Lemuel will be a week older with us this time around. We will see how it goes.”

Whoever plays up front, they’ll have to do a much better job against the 49ers than the line did last week against Arizona.

“It’s a totally different team we’re playing and a whole new week,” Carroll said. “We have to keep working to fix everything. It’s hugely important. We can’t survive those kinds of games, game in and game out. We have to find a way to get the ball out and make sure that [Wilson] is not getting hit.”

Seahawks vs. 49ers preview

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
video When: 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California TV: NBC

The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks rekindle their rivalry on Thanksgiving with both teams 7-4 and two games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. Is this a must-win situation more for one team than the other?

NFL Nation reporters Paul Gutierrez, who covers the Niners, and Terry Blount, who covers the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, break down the matchup.

Paul Gutierrez: Terry, many teams have gone through Super Bowl hangovers, but with how young, healthy and hungry the Seahawks were coming into this season, they seemed to be the ones primed to break that spell. Why have there been so many fits and starts with this team this season?

Terry Blount: First, the loss of experienced depth from last season’s team really hurt the Seahawks when they suffered some injuries to key players earlier this season. Seattle lost 11 players off the 2013 squad that had a total of 58 years of experience. With injuries to tight end Zach Miller, center Max Unger, cornerback Byron Maxwell, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and nickelback Jeremy Lane, they had to fill in with younger players who were learning on the run and taking their lumps at times. Most of those starters are back now and the Seahawks have won four of their past five. But the other factor has been the distractions caused by the Percy Harvin trade. It was a shocking decision that threw the team for a loop and brought about a slew of stories concerning problems in the locker room. Most of it was baloney. Now the players have taken an us-against-the-world attitude (including a team meeting last week), which may benefit them in the long run.

Paul, I would be remiss not to bring up the whole Michael Crabtree-Richard Sherman feud. Do you think the whole Sherman sideshow at the end of last season's NFC Championship Game, his national TV rant after the tip/interception that decided the outcome, still eats at Crabtree?

Gutierrez: Well, since Crabtree was not made available to the media this week, I can only surmise that, yes, it does bother him. How could it not? He is human, after all, and for someone as proud as Crabtree purports to be, being called “sorry” and “mediocre” by Sherman has to eat at him. Remember, this is a guy who, in the afterglow of his potentially season-saving 51-yard catch on fourth-and-10 at New Orleans three games ago spoke not of being a hero, but rather of becoming a third-down receiver, a fourth option. Yeah, there’s ego involved. What I’m curious to see, though, is with Anquan Boldin becoming Colin Kaepernick’s go-to receiver, will Sherman leave Crabtree to his own devices, real and imagined, and instead cover Boldin? Boldin has been the Niners’ Mr. Dependable and their MVP on offense. And something tells me Sherman would respect Boldin more than he does Crabtree.

Speaking of respect, or lack thereof, how tenuous is the relationship between Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks' front office, and could it have a domino effect on the rest of the roster?

Blount: This sort of plays into what I was saying earlier about the team rallying around each other while everyone outside the organization speculates about internal issues, including Lynch’s future. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is an easygoing guy with reporters, but he took a terse stand last week over all the Lynch talk, saying they have always wanted him back and that reporters would have known it had they asked him. Nevertheless, Lynch wasn’t happy about the whole holdout situation and not getting the big-money contractual change he wanted. Lynch is an unusual guy, to say the least, but his teammates fully support him and he’s playing as well as he ever has. The organization knows he gives everything he has when he’s on the field.

After falling to 4-4 with the loss to the Rams, the 49ers have won three in a row. All three were close games and San Francisco came from behind in the second half to win two of them. What’s been the biggest key to pulling out these close games?

Gutierrez: A stick-to-it-iveness that defies the odds. In New Orleans, it was the 51-yard catch by Crabtree on fourth down. At the Meadowlands, it was the defense’s ability to keep the Giants out of the end zone despite their having first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. And last weekend, it was Frank Gore being able to break a tackle in the backfield on fourth-and-1 to pick up the first down. As coach Jim Harbaugh put it, winning these games in such fashion enables the Niners to make deposits into the “toughness account,” from which they can later make withdrawals when needed. Harbaugh speak? Sure. But if you’re asking for something tangible, well it would be the play of the Niners’ defense, which has risen to the occasion despite having lost Patrick Willis for the season with a toe injury, having yet to gain the services of NaVorro Bowman and just regaining Aldon Smith's presence. The play of rookie Chris Borland at inside linebacker and veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith has enabled the defense to keep games close enough for an oft-sputtering offense to make just enough plays to win.

Russell Wilson is obviously a good running quarterback, as is Kaepernick. But while the Niners have put an emphasis on making Kaepernick more of a pocket passer and, thus, you don’t see him making planned runs as much, Wilson seems to be running with abandon. Is there much of a fear in Seattle that running Wilson so much risks injury, or would reining him in take his game away?

Blount: It’s all about taking what the defense gives them. Wilson never goes into a game planning to run 10 times, but if the defense keys on Lynch off the zone-read and Wilson sees wide-open spaces off the edge, he is off to the races. Sometimes it comes off a naked bootleg when he sees 20 yards of room in front of him. But you’re right, there is an inherent risk in this stuff. Wilson does a great job of sliding down before getting hit, but you have to wonder if the odds catch up to him at some point and an injury happens. Honestly, as poorly as the offensive line has played in pass blocking, Wilson is at a much bigger risk of getting injured on a sack in the pocket than he is running the ball.

You probably get a question like this one every week, but since Jim Harbaugh is the man Seahawks fans love to hate more than any other person in the NFL, is this season the last chance they get to boo him as coach of the 49ers?

Gutierrez: If the Niners flop and fail to get into the playoffs, then I’d say ... yes. With so much drama and innuendo floating between the front office and the coaching box, it’s hard to imagine Harbaugh being welcomed back to Santa Clara after failing in what everyone dripping in red and gold deemed a Super Bowl or bust season. His alma mater at Michigan seems a natural fit. But with as much a competitor as Harbaugh is, and knowing that his two biggest coaching competitors in the NFL -- brother John and the guy you cover up in Seattle in Carroll -- have won the past two Lombardi trophies, that has to eat at him, too. Perhaps enough to make him want to stay in the league. And if it’s not in Santa Clara, perhaps up the Bay in Oakland? It’s a fluid situation, Terry, one that no one, least of all Harbaugh himself, can predict with any certainty. Especially not with five games remaining in this season, including two with the Seahawks, and the Niners seemingly built for a playoff run.


Seahawks hope to stop skid at 49ers

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26

Seahawks reporter Terry Blount talks about the team’s five-game losing streak at Candlestick and wonder if the 49ers’ new home field will treat Seattle any better.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While it might be ludicrous to suggest the Seattle Seahawks are a one-dimensional team on offense, they are the No. 1-ranked rushing team in the league while ranking 30th in passing.

Still, the Seahawks, behind the two-headed rushing attack of running back Marshawn Lynch, who is fifth in the NFL with 852 yards, and quarterback Russell Wilson, who leads all QBs with 644 yards, don't care if you know their style.

Go ahead, try and stop us, seems to be their mantra.

"They're a tough running game to defend," said San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "They've got Marshawn Lynch, who we all know is, if he's not the best back in the league he's second to somebody, I wouldn't know who that would be. And then you've got [Wilson] back there who could pull the ball at anytime and become a runner himself."

In eight career regular-season games against the 49ers, Lynch has rushed for 687 yards on 152 carries, a 4.5-yards per carry average, with five touchdowns, trailing only the seven he's scored against the New York Giants.

Wilson, meanwhile, has rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries in four regular-season games against the Niners.

"So, it's like defending Lynch and his great running style, and when Wilson has the ball in his hand, he's like defending Barry Sanders with his quickness and speed and elusiveness," Fangio said. "He's a tough assignment. He's got more rushing yards than most of the running backs in the league."

And one of the biggest compliments.
RENTON, Wash. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a man of few words on weekly conference calls, but he did have an opinion Tuesday on whether Jim Harbaugh would return as the team's head coach.

"I think he'll be back," Kaepernick said.

When asked what makes him think that, Kaepernick had a two-word answer: "His resume."

Kaepernick and the 49ers play host to the Seattle Seahawks Thanksgiving night, but Kaepernick wouldn't get into the issue from the NFC Championship Game last season on Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman's post-game rant against 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.

"We're not worried about that," Kaepernick said. "We're worried about trying to win this game. It's a different year, different season. We approach it that way."

QB snapshot: Russell Wilson

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
A quick observation of quarterback Russell Wilson and how he played in the Seahawks' 19-3 victory in Week 12:

Only 13 times in NFL history has a quarterback finished a game with a higher quarterback rating than Russell Wilson had Sunday (121.6) while getting sacked seven or more times.

That tells you all you need to know. Even though he was under constant duress from the blitz-happy Cardinals, Wilson found a way to get it done, throwing and running the football.

Arizona blitzed 33 times in 58 plays, including 22 of 33 plays in the second half. But Wilson was 11-of-13 for 153 yards against the blitz, including eight first-down throws. He also was 5 of 6 for 70 yards when under duress, including the game’s only touchdown -- a 20-yard catch-and-run to tight end Cooper Helfet in the third quarter.

Wilson was the game’s leading rusher with 73 yards on 10 carries, which included a 40-yard run in the second quarter that would have been a 49-yard touchdown run if not for a questionable holding call on Seattle Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse at the 9-yard-line.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that's it's likely left guard James Carpenter will return for the Thanksgiving night game against the San Francisco 49ers, but rookie outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis will not be back this week and could be done for the season.

Pierre-Louis suffered a shoulder injury in the Kansas City game and did not play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. It's possible the Seahawks could place Pierre-Louis on injured reserve, which would end his season.

"Kevin is banged up pretty good and there's more news to come," Carroll said. "We're working on it."

The good news is Carpenter's likely return to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a sprained ankle. Carpenter was having his best season before the injury. Carroll said they almost activated Carpenter for the game against the Cardinals.

"We labored over whether to go with him," Carroll said. "He was really politicking to get out there and play. But we thought with the short week coming up it was better to just hold him out and give him the best chance to be ready for this game."

It appears unlikely that tight end Cooper Helfet will play Thursday night after spraining his ankle Sunday. Helfet scored the game's only touchdown Sunday with a 20-yard catch-and-run when he dove into the end zone.

Running back Marshawn Lynch will need to recuperate sooner this week than he has the last few weeks. He hasn't practiced on Wednesday or Thursday the last three weeks because of nagging issues with his back, along with a calf and rib injury.

"We'll just go through the process and see how he does," Carroll said. "We'll take good care of him and he's real smart about how he handles it. We expect he'll be ready to go and I know he won't want to miss this thing."
If it's Seahawks Week then it's time to talk Richard Sherman in Santa Clara, right?

Well …

Sure, the last time the San Francisco 49ers met the Seattle Seahawks, the NFC title was on the line and Sherman knocked away Colin Kaepernick's last-gasp fade pass to Michael Crabtree to turn it into a game-clinching interception for Malcolm Smith in the end zone.

And who can forget Sherman's postgame rant?

"I'm the best corner in the game," he told Fox Sports. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me.

"Crabtree, don't you open your mouth about the best, or I'm going to shut it for you real quick. LOB."

Sherman was giving a shout-out to the Seahawks' hard-hitting secondary, deemed the Legion of Boom. He was requested for a Tuesday conference call with Bay Area reporters, but the Seahawks' P.R. department declined to make him available.

Crabtree has spoken only on rare occasions this season, but Kaepernick did talk to reporters in the locker room on Monday. He did not take the bait, even as it is more than 10 months old.

Asked if Crabtree was anticipating the rematch with Sherman, Kaepernick said, "It's another game for him. I don't think he's worried about anything else."

Then surely Kaepernick must have a view on Sherman.

"I don't have any," he said. "I'm worried about what we're doing."

Kaepernick said he had no communication with Sherman at offseason events. And while many quarterbacks have shied away from throwing at Sherman, Kaepernick said, "I'll throw to whoever's open."

And it's just Monday.

Legion of Boom had a big day Sunday

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
SEATTLE -- The Legion of Boom was back Sunday with its best effort of the season in the 19-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona has lived by the deep ball this season, but the Seattle Seahawks secondary held Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton to 3-of-8 passing on attempts of at least 15 yards downfield. That includes his first interception on those throws this season, a second quarter pick by cornerback Byron Maxwell.

The Seahawks have not allowed a deep touchdown pass (thrown at least 15 yards downfield) since Week 5, the longest active streak of the season.

Certainly, it helped the Seahawks on Sunday that Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was out with a sprained knee, the first game he has missed in seven years. But the Seahawks secondary blanketed Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd, who didn’t have a catch and was targeted only twice.

All four secondary starters were on the field Sunday for the Seahawks, but the key was that all four were healthy.

Strong safety Kam Chancellor, who missed two games with a groin injury and played through ankle and hip problems, said Sunday was the best he has felt all season. Maxwell, who missed four games with a calf injury, was back in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game.
SEATTLE -- The heart and soul of the Seattle Seahawks' defense was back Sunday, with two star players who were healthy for the first time in a long time.

The heart: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who played for the first time in six weeks after a turf-toe injury. The soul: Strong safety Kam Chancellor, playing full speed and without pain for the first time this season.

The result was a defense that got its swagger back and shut down the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals in a 19-3 victory at CenturyLink Field.

Wagner and Chancellor each had eight total tackles, including seven solo stops for Chancellor.

Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell, who had an interception in the second quarter, summed up what Wagner and Chancellor meant to the defense Sunday.

On Wagner: “I definitely felt his presence out there today,” Maxwell said. “He's a playmaker and has great ball skills. He adds another dimension to our defense.”

On Chancellor: “It’s like when somebody picks on you and you go get your big brother,” Maxwell said. “He was our big brother today.”

Sunday marked the fewest points the Seahawks had allowed since shutting out the New York Giants on Dec. 15 last year. And it was the fewest points the Seattle defense had allowed at home since the 29-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 15 last season. The Cardinals had only 204 total yards of offense and only 64 yards rushing.

A big reason? Wagner and Chancellor, who completely change the complexion of the defense when they are healthy. The Seahawks had all their defensive starters back Sunday, with the exception of nose tackle Brandon Mebane, for the first time since the Dallas game on Oct. 12.

“I think we’re getting healthy at the right time,” said Wagner, who played every defensive snap. “That’s going to be important down the stretch with all the division games [four of the last five] we have coming up.”

Wagner said earlier in the week he wanted to bring a passion back to the defense.

“I think I did that,” he said. “I definitely wanted to come out there with a lot of energy and make some big hits. It shows when we’re healthy and we’ve got all our pieces, we’re a pretty good bunch.”

Chancellor missed two games earlier this season with a groin injury. But he’s been playing with ankle problems and he also had offseason hip surgery. He said he felt like a new man Sunday.

“Yeah, it is the best I’ve felt all season,” Chancellor said. “I felt good, running around, cutting, everything.”

And he also felt Wagner’s return made him better.

“Bobby just brings so much intensity,” Chancellor said. “He controls the middle of the defense. He disrupts things and changes the direction of the runner, and that gives me more chances, too.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made a beeline to Wagner’s locker after the game.

“It was great to have him out there,” Carroll said. “I went up to Bobby and said, ‘Geez, I didn’t realize what a factor you are.’ He is one of the heartbeat guys for this club.”

The heart (Wagner) and the soul (Chancellor) were back at their best Sunday, which made all the difference for the Seahawks’ defense.