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Updated Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Seahawks' Pete Carroll focuses on Bills as NFL spotlight shines on Seattle

By Danny O'Neil
Seattle Times staff reporter

The NFL changed its schedule Monday to give the rest of the country another look at a Seahawks team that is drawing increasing attention, moving Seattle's Dec. 23 game against San Francisco into prime time.

Coach Pete Carroll wasn't willing to look that that far ahead, however.

"We're going to play them this Sunday?" Carroll asked.

Nope. Next up for Seattle is the Buffalo Bills in Toronto this Sunday. Then, Seattle returns home to play the NFC West-leading 49ers in a game that was moved to 5:20 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally by NBC.

"Whatever, it's moved back a little bit," Carroll said. "Two weeks from now."

Come on, coach. How about a little something about the potential excitement of being moved into a featured time slot to face a 49ers team that has become quite a rival?

"Nah, there's nothing to talk about," Carroll said. "What does that mean? We'll just stay in the hotel a little bit longer, and then go play."

Well, it could mean a lot, because if Seattle (8-5) beats Buffalo in Toronto on Sunday and San Francisco (9-3-1) loses at New England later that day, then next week's game between Seattle and San Francisco will be for the division lead.

NBC altered its Sunday night schedule for the first time this year so that it could feature the Seahawks and 49ers. The network swapped out the Jets-Chargers game initially scheduled for that time slot.

Thirteen games into the season, it seems the rest of the nation is taking notice of this Seahawks team tucked in the upper-left-hand corner of the country.

Russell Wilson is being included with Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and Washington's Robert Griffin III in debates about the best rookie quarterback, the Seahawks have been selected for their third prime-time game of the year and in the wake of Sunday's 58-0 victory over Arizona, there were some questions about whether Seattle ran up the score. Some national analysts — most notably former NFL coach Herm Edwards — took exception to the Seahawks' late-game play-calling, presumably the fourth-down pass that Seattle's backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw into the end zone in the fourth quarter. The throw was intended for Jermaine Kearse, but fell incomplete.

It takes a lot to get national coverage focused on the league's most geographically isolated team. Yet on Monday Seattle was being scrutinized for a play that did not produce a single one of its franchise-record 58 points.

Carroll reiterated Monday that the goal was to take advantage of the first opportunity to play Flynn.

"We just haven't had the opportunity," Carroll said of Flynn. "He needs to play. He needs to get ready because he's one play away from leading this football team. In that instance — and this is for years — I've always taken a look at what our special needs are. He needed to throw the ball a little bit. So he threw it nine times."

Seattle attempted 22 passes total, winning its eighth game of the year to ensure the franchise's first non-losing season since 2007.

Two weeks from now, the rest of the country will have a chance to take a look at Seattle — even if Carroll and his team aren't willing to look past this week's game in Buffalo.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

Sunday

Seahawks @ Buffalo,

in Toronto, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13



Wilson is being discussed with the top rookie QBs.




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