Buffalo offers potential 'trap game' for Seahawks
After a rout of Arizona and with a potential NFC West-deciding game against San Francisco looming, Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged the dangers of easing up against the Bills.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ Buffalo (Toronto), 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
Looming in the not-so-distant future for the Seahawks is a potential showdown for the ages — or at least for the NFC West title — with the 49ers.
Still dancing in their heads is the memory of last Sunday's 58-0 romp over the Arizona Cardinals.
And then there is the matter at hand on Sunday for Seattle — a road contest at a neutral site against a Buffalo Bills team spinning its wheels with a 5-8 record.
The technical term is "trap game," and the ongoing focus of the Seattle coaching staff this week has been to prevent the Seahawks from falling into it.
After Friday's practice, coach Pete Carroll initially joked, "Oh, no. Not around here. No trap games. I don't even know what that means."
But then he got serious and acknowledged the potential dangers of getting too caught up in a just-completed rout, or too antsy for a divisional showdown. If they don't get the job done against the Bills in Toronto, then both could be for naught.
"I guess I believe in it (trap games) so much, we start talking about how you respond to different types of games from the first time we start talking to these guys," Carroll said. "Because they can be factors. If you don't handle it right, you can get in trouble."
The Bills could present genuine challenges for Seattle, starting with dynamic running back C.J. Spiller. He leads NFL running backs with 6.6 yards per carry, but there has been much disenchantment from Bills fans over a perceived underutilization of Spiller. He has carried just 144 times for 944 yards, yet still leads the AFC with 11 rushes of 20 yards or more.
That under-use issue should dissipate this week with last Sunday's season-ending knee injury to running back Fred Jackson, who was placed on injured reserve. Spiller expects his workload to pick up.
"Everybody pretty much knows that I am going to be the feature back from here on out for these next three games," Spiller said in a Wednesday conference call.
And that's worrisome for Carroll, who has admired Spiller since he tried to recruit him to USC. He called Spiller, who ended up at Clemson, "one of the best players we've ever come across, and boy, is he really turning it up."
Spiller, who is in his third year, overlapped briefly in Buffalo as a rookie with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks acquired Lynch in a trade with Buffalo in October 2010.
"That is my man," Spiller said of Lynch. "The first time he saw me, he said, 'You the fast dude. You the fast dude we got.' He was great here. ... He practiced hard, but at the same time he definitely kept our running back room very entertained."
The Bills have made a remarkable defensive transformation in recent weeks. After eight games, they ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (169.5) and dead last in yards per attempt (5.6).
In the past five games, they have given up just 78.4 yards per game on the ground, and 3.1 yards per rush. The former ranks second in the league, the latter tied for first.
The Seahawks expect to have wide receiver Sidney Rice (foot) for the game, but will be without cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant, both out with hamstring injuries, as well as Brandon Browner, who will sit out for the second time during his four-game suspension.
Carroll vows that Seattle will treat the Buffalo game with the focus it warrants as a potential trap game.
"The conversation, the language we use, the expectation, the way we practice — everything is geared to come back to a consistent, balanced approach," he said, "so we don't become a team that goes up and down. This team has been very solidly consistent, all the way from preseason throughout. We don't win all the games, but we're playing at a pretty good clip."
• WR Deon Butler was signed by Seattle on Saturday, replacing Charly Martin, who was moved to injured reserve. Martin suffered a calf injury during Thursday's practice.
Butler was chosen in the third round by Seattle in 2009, and played the previous three seasons with the Seahawks. He was released on the final round of cuts before the regular season began. Butler is eligible to be active Sunday.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.