The lights will be on at CenturyLink Field as the Seahawks play their second consecutive prime-time game. The cameras will be there, too – about 30 of them, as ESPN televises Seattle’s first Monday night game in four years. Action. That’s the cue for the Seahawks to step onto the closest thing the NFL has to a center stage. “Everybody enjoys the heck out of it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “And we’re fortunate to have the opportunity, and we want to play real well.”
The Seahawks are playing in the league’s showcase spot for the first time since shutting out San Francisco 24-0 on Nov. 12, 2007. And while the rest of the country may shrug at this matchup, it is an important moment for Carroll’s tenure. The Seahawks are double-digit favorites at home against a Rams team they beat by 17 points three weeks ago.
Seattle has a chance to make a statement – not just against St. Louis, but in the final four games of the season. The Seahawks can show that after playing for three coaches in four seasons, they have turned the corner and are ready to contend behind a new generation of players.
It has been 11 days since the Seahawks last played, a 31-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles that was Seattle’s most complete effort of the year. On Monday, the Seahawks have a chance to pick up where they left off.
“The excitement is going to be there,” quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. “You know the crowd is going to be hyped, so we’re just going to feed off that when the time comes.”
There is something special about playing on Monday night. It’s as true for the players as it is for the crowd. Their peers are watching, all eyes in the league trained on the final game of the NFL week.
But before anyone gets carried away, remember these Seahawks have lost three starters along their offensive line. And while they dominated the Rams less than a month ago, the NFL isn’t a league in which you can just Xerox the game plan and expect the same result.
“To think that it’s going to be the same and things are going to feel the same, we don’t want to do that,” Carroll said. “We want to treat this as a brand-new opportunity and challenge and approach it in that way, and hopefully the preparation will get us what we want.”
What Seattle wants tonight is to get one game closer to .500 and in the process keep alive what are admittedly slim playoff hopes. And for one of the first times under Carroll, it’s not a matter of what the Seahawks could do, but rather what they should do: handle a Rams team that is last in the league in scoring, owns the worst-ranked rush defense and hasn’t won in Seattle in seven years.
But stats don’t get you through a game. The question is whether the Seahawks will be ready when the lights come on tonight.
“You can’t get too far ahead of yourself,” Jackson said.
“Because if you do look over an opponent in this league, they’ll come out and beat you. We want to make sure that we do what we’re supposed to do: come out and play as hard as we can.”