Bright lights, big stage.
That’s right where Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes it, as he prepares his team for a big matchup tonight on Monday Night Football against the visiting Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.
“Every one of us grew up watching Monday Night Football,” Carroll said. “It’s something special. It’s a special night each week in the league that everybody loves, just because everybody in the league has played and they’re done, and you’re the last ones up.
“Everybody gets to watch a football game on a school night. So that’s a cool thing, and there is something special about that that has always made it very unique.”
What has also made Monday night games special for Seattle is that the Seahawks usually win.
The Seahawks have a 35-25 record in prime time games and are 17-8 in Monday Night Football contests – good for 68 percent, which is the best in the NFL. The Seahawks have won five straight games on Monday night, including three shutouts.
And Seattle is 2-0 against Green Bay on Monday Night Football. In 1999, the Seahawks defeated the Brett Favre-led Packers, 27-7, at Lambeau Field in Mike Holmgren’s return to Green Bay. And in 2006, Shaun Alexander ran for 201 yards in a 34-24 win at what is now CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks went on to earn a postseason berth in both of those seasons.
Seattle rookie Russell Wilson gets his first chance to show a national television audience why he earned the starting quarterback job over former Green Bay reserve quarterback Matt Flynn, whom Seattle signed to a three-year, $19.5 million deal to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency.
Wilson was efficient last week in Seattle’s 27-7 victory over Dallas, completing 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Seattle has leaned on Marshawn Lynch and a strong running game to lead the way on offense. The Seahawks are last in passing offense, averaging just 136 yards a game, and have just three passing plays of 20 yards or more through two games, second-lowest in the league.
However, Seattle might have to loosen the reins to keep up with Green Bay’s explosive offense.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Wilson said, when asked if he could be successful airing it out. “But we’ve got one of the best running backs in the game, too. So you’ve got to do what’s best for our football team, and we’ve got a great defense.
“I’m not worried about that. I think that we can throw it around at any time, any place. It’s just one of those things where you have to do what’s effective at the time, and be smart with the football and take some time off sometimes too in those situations as well.”
Through two games, Seattle’s defensive unit has looked like one of the best in the league. The Seahawks have forced four turnovers, have held opponents to an average of 46 yards rushing (No. 2 in the league), and are ranked No. 6 in the league in total defense, giving up 274.5 yards a contest.
Seattle’s defense will have its hands full going up against one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers, who was the league MVP last season.
While Green Bay’s offense has sputtered so far this season, averaging 22.5 points a contest, the Seahawks know the type of explosive plays Rodgers and the rest of his teammates can generate if given some room to maneuver.
“What I’ve noticed so far is that there’s a lot of game planning because they do so much,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “They’re a vertical team with a lot of personnel, and they have a lot fire power.”
And what about facing one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Rodgers?
“We always want to see the top talent,” Thomas said. “I think that makes us better as a secondary, and also better as a defense. If you want to be considered the best, you have to beat the best, so we’re just taking that outlook.
“It’s a championship game every week, and we’re going to go out there and try to win.”
Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley echoed Thomas’ comments.
“I don’t know how we’ll do,” Bradley said. “I don’t know. We’re going to go in there, test our philosophy and see how it works. But they’ll know we’re there.
“We’re going to hit them. We’re going to hustle. We’re going to be ballhawks – we’re going to go for that ball. And our guys are saying, ‘You know what, we’re ready for this challenge. Let’s go see. Let’s go play the game and see what happens.’
“And if there’s things that go wrong, we’ll get them fixed.”