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A finale with finality

Posted Dec 26, 2011

Yes, the Seahawks were eliminated from the playoff chase with Saturday's loss to the 49ers. But no, Pete Carroll is not altering his play-to-win-and-only-to-win plans for Sunday's finale against the Cardinals.

The Seahawks might be down to one game, but Pete Carroll is anything but down about that game.

Despite being eliminated from the playoff chase with Saturday’s two-point loss to the NFC West Champion San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field, there are reasons to still be excited about this week’s season finale against the Cardinals in Arizona.

No. 1 on that list is the chance to finish 8-8, which would be the Seahawks’ first non-losing record since 2007. There’s also the possibility to go 4-4 on the road, which they haven’t done since 2006. And a win over the Cardinals would leave the Seahawks alone in second place in the division, another block to build upon as this young team heads into its offseason.

“There’s no hesitation. There’s no other agenda at all other than to win the football game,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday during his news conference. “This would be great to get to 8-8 and leave them out of it. That would be great to do that.

“They want the same thing. So it’s an important deal, yeah. Everybody would like to finish on a positive note.”

Both teams are 7-8, and both stumbled on Christmas Eve – the Seahawks losing 19-17 to the 49ers, while the Cardinals were falling to the Bengals in Cincinnati 23-16. But the Seahawks have won five of their past seven, after starting 2-6; and the Cardinals six of their past eight after losing six in a row.

So Carroll and Ken Whisenhunt, his counterpart with the Cardinals, will take whatever positives they can, wherever they might be found.

“We’re going for it, and so are they,” Carroll said. “So it’s going to be a good football game.”

Carroll also was asked another of those winding-down-the-season questions – the one about using this last game to take a look at some of his younger players.

Too late. Those younger players already are playing, and making plays.

Like rookie Richard Sherman, the third option at left cornerback after season-ending injuries to Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond. Sherman has joined the second-year safety tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, as well as Brandon Browner, the right corner who is in his first season as a starter.

Like K.J. Wright, the rookie linebacker who has played so well the club could afford to trade former first-round draft choice Aaron Curry to the Oakland Raiders to open a starting spot for Wright on the strong side.

Like offensive linemen Breno Giacomini and Lemuel Jeanpierre, who have stepped in to replace injured rookies James Carpenter and John Moffitt on the right side; and even journeyman Paul McQuistan, who is staring at his third spot this season for injured left tackle Russell Okung.

Like Doug Baldwin, the rookie free agent who leads the club in receptions (48), receiving yards (748) and touchdown catches (four).

“No, we’re going after this the way we’ve been building,” Carroll said when asked about any changes in his approach this week. “We’re just getting going and trying to figure it out, and practicing well and putting plans together.

“We don’t plan on changing. We want to see if we can finish this thing off right and get a win there. It’s going to be very difficult. Arizona is playing great football right now. But we’re going for it. We’re not going to shifting gears, changing; we’re not going to try and learn a whole bunch in one game of new things. We’re going to try continue to finish this year out the way we’ve set a pace here now. So I wouldn’t be looking for big wholesale changes. We’re not doing that.”

And Carroll plans to keep heading in that positive direction with the young players who have been among the pacesetters in his second season as coach.

“To look at something for the future is not within our mind at all,” he said. “We want to come back and play another good game of football.”

One last game for this season, that will help set things in motion for next season.