Prime-time spotlight on NFC West

Seahawks-49ers matchup moves to Sunday night slot for potential title tossup

Staff writerDecember 11, 2012 

RENTON — Because of the league’s flex scheduling late in the season, the Seattle Seahawks will have a chance to flex their muscles against NFC West rival San Francisco in a nationally televised game in two weeks.

The league announced on Monday that Seattle’s contest against the 49ers on Dec. 23 at CenturyLink Field has been flexed to the Sunday night game at 5:20 p.m. on Channel 5.

The game originally was set for 1:25 p.m. on Channel 13.

The San Diego Chargers-New York Jets game, initially scheduled for NBC’s prime-time slot, moved to a 10 a.m. kickoff on CBS.

The NFL also moved the Week 16 New York Giants-Baltimore Ravens game from a 10 a.m. kickoff to a 1:25 p.m. kickoff on Fox.

With the changes, San Francisco will play on Sunday nights in back-to-back weeks, with the 49ers taking on the New England Patriots this weekend in a prime time, Sunday night game.

The upcoming rematch between Seattle and San Francisco will be the Seahawks’ third nationally televised game this season. The Seahawks defeated Green Bay, 14-12, in Week 3 on Monday Night Football, and lost at San Francisco in Week 7, 13-6, in a Thursday night game on the NFL Network.

The Seahawks-49ers rematch has some appeal for a national audience because it could help decide the division title, with San Francisco (9-3-1) traveling to New England on Sunday, while the Seahawks (8-5), trailing by 11/2 games, play Buffalo in Toronto.

If the 49ers lose to the Patriots and Seattle sweeps its final three games, the Seahawks would win the NFC West title for the second time in three seasons.

But Seattle coach Pete Carroll isn’t looking that far ahead.

“Yeah, whatever,” he said. “It’s moved back a bit. That’s two weeks from now.

“There’s really nothing to talk about. What does that mean? We’ll just stay in the hotel a little longer, and then go play.”

The Seahawks last were flexed into the Sunday night game at the end of the 2010 season at home against St. Louis. The Seahawks won, 16-6, to earn Carroll’s first NFC West title.

Flexible scheduling is used late in the season to allow the best games to be shown in the time slots when the most people can watch. The schedule for the final regular-season games Dec. 30 will be announced after the conclusion of games Dec. 23, the penultimate weekend of the season.

POURING IT ON?

Carroll once again emphasized that he thinks the Seahawks did not try to run up the score in the team’s 58-0 thumping of Arizona.

Starting quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch left the game early in the third quarter.

Carroll did let reserve quarterback Matt Flynn throw nine times – he completed five for 68 yards – the first time Seattle’s free agent addition played in a regular-season game.

Carroll said he wanted Flynn to get some work in case Wilson gets injured in the coming weeks and he needs to play.

The Seahawks threw only 22 passes in the game.

“I’m very clear about how you do it, and have done it a lot,” Carroll said. “I’ve been in games where we’re taking a knee at the end of the second quarter to get the clock ran out.

“So it’s a sensitive situation. I understand that. But we have a very clear way that we go about it. And we’re trying to really accomplish a lot of stuff in that situation, as well as just finishing the football game.”

If Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was displeased with the way Carroll handled himself during the game, he didn’t express it afterwards.

“It’s our job to stop it,” Whisenhunt said. “You have to give them credit. They’re doing their thing. I have no comment on that other than to say, it’s our job to stop them and we didn’t get that done.”

Carroll said he’s been in similar situations several times before as coach at USC playing weaker opponents, so he has a feel for how to handle it.

“What you’re trying to do is make first downs,” Carroll said. “You’re trying to get first downs and keep the football, with the sensitivity of the situation. And you know you’re going to run the football like crazy, which was awesome. We love to do that.

“So we got a lot of things done yesterday. And unfortunately on the other side, it was a very hard day for those guys. I get it.”

EXTRA POINTS

Carroll said that the team for the most part is healthy. Reserve safety Chris Maragos suffered a hamstring injury against Arizona that the team will have to monitor this week, Carroll said. Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant could miss a third straight game with a lingering hamstring injury, and linebacker Leroy Hill (ankle) is set to return, but might have a hard time getting his starting job back because Malcolm Smith is playing well in his place at outside linebacker.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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