Lawyer Milloy, Seahawks veterans staying upbeat
"Let's see if we can rise to the challenge," said Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy entering Sunday's home game with NFC-leading Atlanta.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Playoff possibilitiesSeattle is 6-7, tied for first place in a division where it's still possible all four teams could finish tied for first at 7-9. Not likely, but possible. Here's Seattle's playoff possibilities spelled out by decreasing level of difficulty.
I. If the Seahawks finish 9-7: Stop laughing. It could happen. It's possible, and if Seattle finishes the season with victories over Atlanta, Tampa Bay and St. Louis, the Seahawks are guaranteed a playoff berth.
II. If the Seahawks finished 8-8: This requires two different categories, first if the Seahawks' pair of victories included a win over the St. Louis Rams and one if they did not. 1) If the Seahawks finish 8-8 while beating the Rams, Seattle would make the playoffs if San Francisco lost at least one of its final three games. 2) If the Seahawks beat Atlanta and Tampa Bay but lose to St. Louis, the Seahawks would make the playoffs if a) St. Louis lost to both Kansas City and San Francisco and b) San Francisco lost either to San Diego or Arizona in addition to beating St. Louis in Week 16.
III. If the Seahawks finish 7-9: The Seahawks make the playoffs at 7-9 if: a) Seattle beats St. Louis in Week 17 and b) The Rams lose to either Kansas City or San Francisco in addition to losing at Seattle in Week 17 and c) the 49ers lose at least two of their final three games.
RENTON — The significance of where the Seahawks stand with three games left in this season requires a look to the past.
Not to mid-October when the Seahawks were 4-2. Go back further. Back before the season began, all the way back to the spring when Seattle was coming off its second consecutive losing season.
Seattle has lost five of its last seven games, but it is December and the Seahawks are playing a football game with postseason implications. That says something. At least it does for safety Lawyer Milloy.
"Back in March, if you told me that all it took was three games to get into the playoffs, I'd take it," Milloy said.
There is no better place to check Seattle's pulse than Milloy. He is not only a veteran voice, but his words carry a weight given only to those who've won a Super Bowl ring.
He also was a starter in Atlanta in 2008, when the Falcons went from worst to first in the NFC South. So he knows a little bit about Sunday's opponent — from quarterback Matt Ryan to coach Mike Smith. He was there when the Falcons began the turnaround that has them on top of the conference as they head to Seattle on Sunday.
"Let's see if we can rise to the challenge," Milloy said, "knowing that they've pretty much set the standard for our conference."
This is a game Seattle is not expected to win. In fact, the Seahawks are the only home team that is not favored in the NFL this weekend. A second-half comeback against Carolina is the only thing that has saved Seattle from a four-game losing streak, and the Seahawks' past three games have come against the following starting quarterbacks: Max Hall and Derek Anderson of Arizona and rookie Jimmy Clausen of Carolina.
Coach Pete Carroll began this week by checking for his team's pulse the day after a 19-point loss in San Francisco. He wanted to know who showed up for workouts the next day to make sure no one showed signs of caving in.
"Perfect attendance," he said.
Consider that evidence that Seattle's vital signs were stable.
"This has been a very responsive team to what we're trying to get done and staying together," Carroll said. "Nobody's looking at anybody else, everybody's being accountable. So that's all I could ask for at this point."
The Seahawks remain tied for first place in their division, but their season has hit a valley, losing by 19 to the 49ers team they beat by 25 in the regular-season opener. There is no way to sugar coat that bitter reality, and defensive captain Lofa Tatupu didn't try.
"It never feels good," Tatupu said. "You like to take a game like that (and) you try to learn as best you can not to let something like that happen again."
That resolve will face the most strenuous test of the season Sunday when the Seahawks host a team that has established itself as the NFC contender Seattle is hoping to one day be.
Call it a test or a challenge, it's also an opportunity for players inside Seattle's locker room.
"They have a chance to really solidify home-field advantage for the playoffs, and we're trying to figure it out to get in," Milloy said. "Because we're in the same conference, potentially this is a tone-setter game."
The Seahawks have come a long way in the past 11 months. Only the next three games will show how far they can still go.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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