Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sat down with 710 ESPN Seattle Monday morning to recap his team's 39-32 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Not surprisingly, when asked how he was doing, Carroll answered, "well, I've been better." But while he and the Seahawks are unhappy with the way the game turned out, they move on this week feeling like they still have everything left to play for.
That and some other highlights from this morning's show with Brock and Salk:
1. The Seahawks haven't given up on their goal of winning the NFC West.
Yes, the Cardinals did just build a three-game lead with that win over the Seahawks, but with seven games left, Carroll and his team are taking the approach that their goals are still out there for them if they can just take care of their own business. The Seahawks will need help to catch Arizona at this point, but they do play each other one more time, and the Cardinals have a very tough schedule going forward, starting with a game against 8-0 Cincinnati on Sunday.
"We'll see how we hang," Carroll said. "We have to hang together and keep going. There's so many games. (The Cardinals) have got a long road now, it ain't easy… We'll see what happens. Let's keep playing. You don't know how this is going to go, to call it now is the biggest mistake you could make. So we go back to work and let's get ready for San Francisco and start knocking out some wins and see how far that takes us. That's how you do this, there's no other way to do it."
2. Even after a bad start, Carroll is more worried about the finish.
The Seahawks found themselves down 19-0 after what Carroll described Sunday as a "miserable first half of football." Yet for all that went wrong early, the Seahawks still had the lead in the fourth quarter following Bobby Wagner's fumble return touchdown. But for the fifth time in as many losses, the Seahawks were unable to hang onto a fourth-quarter lead.
"We let this one get out, we had a chance to get this done, and we were really jacked up and fired up to play, and we just couldn't get the win," Carroll said. "We came back in royal fashion; it was extraordinary with the crowd and players playing lights out in the second half to get it done, and then we didn't hold it, so it was unfortunate… By the end of the third quarter, we were there. It set up a chance for a great win, it really did. I amplifies the fact that it's not how you start, it's how you finish this thing. We were there for it, then we couldn't do it the way we wanted to."
As for one of the key plays in Arizona's ability to finish out the game better than Seattle, Andre Ellington's 48-yard touchdown run on third-and-4 with the Cardinals trying hang onto a lead, Carroll said, "It's just a draw. They ran a draw because we had been pressuring them, and we just didn't quite play it right, and it got out and somehow we got pinned on the sidelines and they make a big play out of it. They ran it one time earlier in the game. I was in the conversation (before the play), you'd think they would run it here to not take a chance of stopping the clock, then we thought, 'nah, they're a throwing team, they just don't do that.' We have a blitz on that kills it, we could have hit him the backfield, but we got caught up on the block and didn't make the play."
3. Despite Sunday's imbalance, the Seahawks are still committed to the run.
Russell Wilson is on pace to set a career high in pass attempts, and on Sunday he threw 32 times while the Seahawks rushed just 18—and some of those were Wilson scrambles on pass calls. But despite that imbalance, the Seahawks remain committed to the run. On Sunday, the Seahawks were frequently in first-and-long situations because of penalties, which led to more passes, and as has also been the case in other close games, playing from behind led to a higher volume of pass calls.
"We've always emphasized that," Carroll said "… That continues to be our best way to play. We just didn't get to do that yesterday. It was totally self-inflicted. We would have done that, we intended to do that, that's what would have happened again. We're always committed to it. It's what keeps us so close in all these games and gets us ahead in all these games. I don't think we need to adjust that, we just need to do it better and we need to give ourselves a chance."
4. The Cardinals did what they do best, which irks Carroll because what Arizona does best is what the Seahawks take pride in stopping.
Carson Palmer was "incredibly good," Carroll said, not just making accurate throws, but also moving around the pocket to avoid pressure. Carroll noted the Seahawks missed three sacks they should have had because of Palmer's ability to move in the pocket, then add to that "marvelous accuracy dropping the ball on guys" and you have the formula for a 363-yard, three touchdown performance. But while Carroll was quick to give Palmer and the Cardinals credit, he was also unhappy to be doing so, because one of the things the Cardinals did well—completing long pass plays—is something the Seahawks take great pride in stopping. In particular, Palmer hit Michael Floyd for touchdowns of 27 and 35 yards in the second quarter, which is notable considering the Seahawks had only allowed one touchdown catch by a receiver this season before Sunday.
"He had a fine game," Carroll said of Palmer. "It still comes down to us on the deep ball… Those (Floyd touchdowns) are the big plays, because if we make them go another three plays, we may be able to get out of there. That's something we've always lived by, but unfortunately they were able to execute and get it done."
5. Penalties hurt, but the offensive struggles went beyond that.
The most obvious reason the Seahawks struggled to get going on offense was the penalties that kept setting drives back before they could get going.
"We put ourselves behind the eight ball so much with the penalty situations," Carroll said. "I think we had five first-and-20 or more. The drives, the gameplan, the running game, none of that gets to get executed the way we had counted on it."
First-and-long often led to third-and-long, contributing to a 1 for 8 day on third down, and while the penalties were a big reason why the offense struggled, players could have done more, Carroll said, and Russell Wilson in particular.
"He's got his chances, he's got to hit some passes," Carroll said. "He had some opportunities and he knows it. We talked a long time about it afterward, about the ones we missed… We were high on a couple balls we could of hit. There's things he's got to do better, he knows that. When we miss those in critical games when we're in difficult situations, he's got to come through to help us get out of it. The thing that's really difficult is to expect us to convert those third downs. The statistics are so far against you, it's about 9 percent you can convert on third-and-15. So that's going to make the whole offense look bad."
The Seahawks took on the Arizona Cardinals in an intense Sunday Night Football showdown at CenturyLink Field with divisional implication.