Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Sherels

A few stats to ponder on Seahawks

November, 17, 2013
RENTON, Wash. -- Here's an encouraging thought for Seattle fans. A victory for the Seahawks on Sunday over Minnesota would be their sixth consecutive this season. The last time they won six regular-season games in a row they made it to the Super Bowl.

It was 2005, when Seattle won 11 consecutive games in the regular season before losing to Green Bay in the season finale. But the Seahawks won two playoff games before losing 21-10 to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

Seattle won six straight games last season, but only five at the end of the regular season. The last one included the playoff game at Washington.

Here are a few others interesting stats entering Sunday's game against the Vikings:
  • Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril has 26 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in the last three seasons. He's the only player in the NFL with at least 25 sacks and at least 10 forced fumbles since the start of 2011. Avril has 5 1/2 sacks this year and two forced fumbles.
  • It isn't how far you punt the ball; it's how high. Seattle punter Jon Ryan is 28th in average per punt at 43.7 yards, but here's the stat that really matters. In 39 punts this season, the total return yardage against Ryan is only 15 yards. What that tells you is Ryan's hangtime often keeps returners for getting a chance to do anything. Only 11 of Ryan's punts have been returned, and 17 were downed inside the 20.
  • Everyone this week is talking about Seattle facing the best punt returner in the league in Marcus Sherels (averaging 16.3 yards per return), but Golden Tate also is getting it done for the Seahawks. Tate is fifth in the NFL at 13.7 yards per punt return.
  • If Seattle wins, it will set a franchise record for consecutive wins at home at lucky number 13. The 12 straight home wins tied the previous record set from 2004 to 2006.
  • Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka is on his way to a possible Pro Bowl appearance. He leads the NFL in points scored at 93. More importantly, Hauschka has made 22 of 23 field-goals attempts. The only one he missed was the blocked kick at Indianapolis. One thing that makes Hauschka's season so impressive is the number of long field goals he's made. He is 11 of 12 from 40 yards or longer.
  • Marshawn Lynch is third in the NFL in first downs with 55, but he's first in rushing first downs with 48. Lynch also is third in the league in total yards from scrimmage at 1,084 -- 871 rushing and 213 receiving.

Special teams showdown coming Sunday

November, 14, 2013
RENTON, Wash. -- The best punt coverage man in the NFL -- Seattle's Jeremy Lane -- is going to face the best punt returner in the league -- Minnesota's Marcus Sherels -- Sunday in Seattle.

And the NFL's best kick returner -- Minnesota rookie Cordarrelle Patterson -- will face one of the best teams in kickoff coverage in the Seahawks.

Something has to give.

Lane, the gunner on punts, is a big reason Seattle leads the league in yards allowed per punt at only 1.4 yards per return. He will get a good test Sunday against Sherels, who leads the NFL with a 16.3 yard average per return. Sherels had an 86-yard touchdown return earlier this year against the New York Giants.

"I just hope he doesn't fair catch it so I can get my hits in," Lane said. "It's gonna be a fun test."

Lane, a cornerback in his second NFL season out of Northwestern State (La.), has seven solo tackles this season on special teams. His speed and quickness have enabled him to get downfield in a hurry and usually be right in the return man's face when he catches the punt.

It also helps that punter Jon Ryan usually has excellent hang time on his kicks.

The real goal is to limit Sherels' chances by not needing to punt much. That was the case last weekend at Atlanta. Seven of Seattle's first eight possessions resulted in points scored. The only time the Seahawks punted on those eight series came after they drove to the Atlanta 38-yard-line.

Seattle punted only twice, and the second one came late in the fourth quarter long after the outcome of the 33-10 win had been decided.

It's the other return man who is likely to get more opportunities for the Vikings. Patterson, a rookie from Tennessee, leads the NFL with a 35.2-yard average on 24 returns, including two touchdowns.

One of those was for 109 yards against Green Bay, so he isn't afraid to bring it out from the back of the end zone. That's likely against Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka, who has placed 56 of 60 kickoffs in the end zone this season.

"We're going to expect him to run it out every time," Seattle special teams captain Heath Farwell said. "Plus, it's getting colder and that means it harder to kick the ball out of the end zone."

The Seahawks are No. 5 in the NFL in kickoff coverage at 20.1 yards per return, and Seattle is first in kickoff tackles inside the 20-yard-line with 14.

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier has no hard-and-fast rules about when Patterson can take a kick out of the end zone and when he can't.

"We kind of give him the green light," Frazier said. He's such a big-play guy. We trust his judgment. We haven't put any handcuffs on him for kickoffs. He believes every time he touches the ball he has a chance to score.