2014 DRAFT GUIDE
At 6-1, Seahawks the class of NFC so far

    2013-10-18 15:34

(Eds: Adds details, quotes. Should stand. With AP Photos.)
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks' dominance isn't just a home field thing anymore.

That point was emphasized on Thursday night after the Seahawks improved to 6-1 for the first time in franchise history after winning at Arizona 34-22. They've won as many road games this season - three - as they did all of last year when they won 11 games total. With New Orleans on a bye, the Seahawks can lay claim for at least a week to being the best in the NFC without question.

Most promising for Seattle, though they continue to show flaws, they find ways to overcome the mistakes and continue to win.

''It feels like we are still growing,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after the win Thursday night. ''We are still a very young team and it feels that way. We have enough firepower in a lot of areas to overcome the things that are going in the wrong direction but we are playing good, solid football.''

Seattle's defensive line caused havoc with seven sacks of Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer and 13 QB hits. The seven sacks were the second-most for Seattle in any game since 2008. While Palmer was under siege most of the night, the Seahawks were just as good at stopping the Cardinals' ground attack. Arizona finished with 30 yards rushing and its longest run went for six yards. The 30 yards were the fourth fewest allowed by a Seattle defense in the past 25 seasons.

Offensively, Russell Wilson threw a trio of touchdown passes, Marshawn Lynch continued to run with the intent of battering defenders and Seattle converted 7 of 12 third-down opportunities after struggling to sustain drives recently.

''That is how we kind of separated ourselves,'' Wilson said. ''That is what we need and we did a great job in the red zone.''

Seattle came out of the victory with only a few injury concerns.

Wide receiver Golden Tate has a sprained foot suffered when he spun free for a 25-yard reception in the third quarter, but he returned to the game. Left guard James Carpenter suffered a shin injury and had to be taken to the locker room on a cart, only to return in the fourth quarter. Fullback Derrick Coleman and backup safety Jeron Johnson also suffered hamstring injuries.

What Seattle has on its side is rest. Carroll gave the Seahawks four days off with the team not congregating again until Tuesday when they'll start preparing for their Monday night matchup on Oct. 28 at St. Louis. The game against the Rams begins a favorable four-game stretch against opponents who currently are a combined 5-16. Then comes Seattle's bye.

While that stretch includes road trips to St. Louis and Atlanta, it's not unrealistic to envision the Seahawks being 10-1 or 9-2 by the time of their highly anticipated Week 13 matchup at home against New Orleans.

And the Seahawks are only going to get better during the upcoming stretch. Wide receiver Percy Harvin, whom the Seahawks traded for in the offseason but have yet to use due to hip surgery, could return to practice next week. Seattle has been cautious about a timeline with Harvin.

Carroll said after Thursday's game that should Harvin make it through his workouts this weekend, he could be back on the field Tuesday when the Seahawks resume.

Along with Harvin finally making his debut, Seattle could get its starting offensive tackles back in the next few weeks. Right tackle Breno Giacomini (knee) and left tackle Russell Okung (toe) could both return in the next month. Okung is on injured reserve with the designation to return and could be back on the field in Week 11 against Minnesota.

The return of Okung and Giacomini may prove more important than Harvin's addition. The Seahawks continued to struggle in pass protection against the pressure Arizona brought. Wilson was sacked three times, fumbled three times - losing two - and had nine quarterback hits registered against him.

That number would be higher if not for Wilson's knack for escaping trouble. It was apparent on Wilson's first TD pass where he escaped the rush in the pocket and allowed time for Sidney Rice to break past the secondary deep. Wilson, throwing off his back leg, laid the deep ball perfectly into Rice's arms to give the Seahawks an early lead they wouldn't relinquish.

''We have scramble drills once the quarterback leaves the pocket,'' Rice said. ''I had seen the defender run down behind me once he thought Russell was going to run. As soon as he ran down I just ran the opposite way and got behind and Russell threw it up and it was a perfect ball.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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