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Originally published December 28, 2013 at 5:50 PM | Page modified December 29, 2013 at 12:01 PM

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Seahawks say they have no worries heading into Rams game

Seahawks still plan on wrapping up best record in the NFC and home-field advantage through the playoffs with a victory over St. Louis on Sunday.


Times staff reporter

Sunday

St. Louis @ Seahawks, 1:25 p.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON – There are no cracks in the foundation, the Seahawks insisted all week.

No shaking of the confidence.

Sure, they have lost two of their past three games, each of which would have clinched the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But they also still have a 12-3 record that is tied for the best in NFL, and with all of their goals still in reach.

“Yeah, there are never any worries,’’ cornerback Richard Sherman said this week. “We have a great ballclub, we have a great team and we expect each other to play better than we did on Sunday (a 17-10 loss to Arizona). And we will.”

For the first time, though, when the Seahawks host St. Louis at 1:25 p.m. Sunday at CenturyLink Field, they have something to lose if they don’t.

If Seattle wins, then as Sherman says, the Seahawks have no worries. A victory will clinch the NFC West, a first-round bye and assurance of playing any playoff games before the Super Bowl at CenturyLink, where Seattle is 14-1 the past two seasons.

But a loss, coupled with a win by the 49ers at Arizona, and Seattle would be relegated to the No. 5 seed, forced to go on the road for the wild-card round.

Seattle players said the stakes of the game are so obvious that no one even really needed to state them this week.

“We understand how big it is to play at home and we definitely want to treat the 12th Man and ourselves to home-field advantage through the playoffs,’’ said receiver Golden Tate. “We have worked way too hard, starting way back with offseason workouts, to wait until the last game of the season to really ruin that. But I am very confident in our guys that we are going to come out ready to play.’’

Perpetually positive Seahawks coach Pete Carroll even tried to put a happy spin on Seattle’s sudden win-or-else fate, saying it might turn out better to have had every regular-season game count for something rather than coast into the playoffs.

“The fact that there’s something at stake, legitimately, is good for us and we’ll try to make the most of it,’’ Carroll said. “Everybody would’ve liked to have gotten there earlier, but I don’t know if that would’ve been what’s best for us.’’

What the Seahawks unquestionably need is to fix of few of the ills that have led to losses the past three weeks against the 49ers (19-17) and Cardinals.

Specifically:

• Seattle has averaged just 103.8 rushing yards the past five games, compared to a season average of 138.5 that ranks third in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch, who had 10 100-yard rushing games last season, has just three this year, and none in the past five games.

“We are not blocking well enough as a group up front,’’ said fullback Michael Robinson. “We have to do a better job in the run game, and hopefully that can happen this week.’’

• The running-game issues have contributed to going just 5 of 26 on third downs the past two weeks, tying the worst two-game stretch of the season.

• The Seahawks are also looking to perk up their passing game after getting a net of just 89 yards against the Cardinals, also a season low. Carroll said the main issue was that the Cardinals “covered up’’ the Seattle receivers well throughout the game.

• Seattle also continues to lead the NFL in penalties, with 121, seven more than any other team and a whopping 35 more than its opponents.

• And the defense, while overall still playing as well as any in the NFL, has allowed late drives for winning scores two of the past three weeks.

“That’s something that you certainly don’t forget about,’’ said defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. “And we’re hoping to get some more chances to show that we can finish.”

Tate, though, said the last thing the Seahawks need to do now is overreact to a couple losses.

“We are not changing who we are,’’ he said. “We have made it to this point doing what we do. We are very confident in what we do weekly, and we don’t need to do anything special. We just need to do what we have been doing the whole year, just eliminate penalties and turnovers. If we can do that, I think this could be a big game for us. This could be a big game to get us back on track.’’

If not, they could be hitting the road.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com



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