Let's start today with some observations from last night's 34-22 Seahawks' win here in cozy Arizona:
> Still not perfect, but plenty good enough. This is the most compelling takeaway for me. The Seahawks had 10 penalties, fumbled three times -- basically handing Arizona 10 points -- and were stuffed on fourth-and-1 (a play-call I disagreed with, both in regard to going for it in the first place, and the play they ran). Yet, this game was over at the end of the third quarter.
“We have enough playmakers on this team that we can overcome all of that,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “Once we eliminate all that? Watch out. We’re going to be very, very dangerous.”
Two other things could make the Seahawks more dangerous. Wide receiver Percy Harvin is expected to start practicing Tuesday. He has some more work to do over the weekend, but, without setbacks there, Pete Carroll expects him at practice.
Second, this is the hard part of the schedule. With a trip to St. Louis next Monday night, the Seahawks will finish a run of four out of five on the road. Of the nine remaining games, only two will be against opponents that are above .500, at the moment (New Orleans and San Francisco). Four of the final six are at home, where the Seahawks have won 11 consecutive games.
> We're seeing the defensive line predicted. Remember a few weeks ago when Pete Carroll said it would take a couple weeks for the defensive line to mesh and really get going? Well, that happened Thursday. Eight different players were in on the seven sacks of Carson Palmer.
"You’re going to get sacked against that team," Palmer said. "That team sacks everybody, and they definitely did it today. It was a very good front, and they rotate in. They keep guys fresh. That’s the main thing."
The Seahawks are second in the league in sacks (with a game in hand) after throwing Palmer all over the place Thursday.
> Third down and red zone continue to get better. The Seahawks were 7-for-12 on third down and 3-for-4 in the red zone last night. Those are both gigantic improvements over the prior two weeks.
"We’ve been trying to turn the corner on that thing," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We know we can be a good third down team and we know we have it in us. It just hasn’t happened the way to those kinds of numbers yet. But that’s a big goal for us, to get a third down game and a red zone game, and we’ll continue to work at that. When that happens, we’re going to be really hard to stop on offense.”
> Larry Fitzgerald, locked up good guy. The Seahawks shut down Fitzgerald. He had a season-low two catches. They were also thanking him postgame. Twice Fitzgerald made crack-back blocks on Seattle corners, first on Walter Thurmond and later on Richard Sherman. He made each block without demolishing the opposition. He hit Sherman pretty good, but didn't launch into him or extend his arms on the follow-through. It was excellent, clean fundamental football, blocking with his shoulders.
Thurmond thanks Fitzgerald right after the block on him.
"He had a situation where I wouldn’t have finished the game, basically," Thurmond said. "It was one of those crack-back blocks where I could have really got injured. Just being the type of competitor and standup guy that he is, he looked out for me."
> Brandon Browner is back. Good night for Browner after being benched last week against Tennessee. Just about everything went well for him, except when a sniper got him on his way to the end zone with an interception. Browner said any competitor doesn't like being taken out of the game. He didn't really elaborate when asked if Carroll or defensive coordinator Dan Quinn specifically spoke to him at halftime last week or since the benching. I asked Earl Thomas if it was weird not to have Browner out there last week and what he thought seeing one of his friends benched.
"Definitely weird," Thomas said. "When one of us hurt , I hurt. I actually went up to him, he didn’t want to it hear it probably, but I was like, man, if you need to talk, I’m here.
“He stepped up like a pro and was like, naw, I’m fine.”
Thomas said Browner went back to work, then was on it all Thursday.
However, the DBs will be talking to Browner about the $100 fine they will levy on him for failing to score in the open field on his pick.
> Injuries: Golden Tate had a toe and shoulder problem. Said he will be fine. Safety Jeron Johnson re-aggravated his hamstring injury. Fullback Derrick Coleman also had a hamstring injury. LG James Carpenter had a leg injury but returned. They, and the rest of the Seahawks, will get four days off before their next practice Tuesday.
> My game story.
> TE Zach Miller back in the lineup, back home and very effective.
> Chris Clemons came off his hyperextended elbow Sunday and picked up a sack Thursday.
> John McGrath wrote about Thursday night NFL games.
> ESPN.com coverage here, talking about Russell Wilson making the Seahawks special.
> Seahawks.com coverage here, where they say the Seahawks find several ways to win on the road.
> NFL.com says Wilson is making the leap.
> SI.com also with some Wilson love.
> Video highlights from the game.