The Seahawks are back to work Monday after a victory in Minnesota that was their most complete game of the season, which means head coach Pete Carroll sat down for his regular morning radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
"That was a terrific game, wasn't it?" Carroll said. "Gosh, we go there against a cool team that's been rolling, and play well from start to finishing in all phases, with one play exception, it was a really good accomplishment for us. It feels like there's a real momentum coming through us."
Here are a few highlights from Carroll's weekly spot on the Brock and Salk show.
1. A shift in tempo during the week led to fresh legs Sunday.
Asked what as the key to such a strong performance, Carroll said, "Physically we were really right."
And the key to being physically right was an adjustment to the practice week: "We totally shifted what we did last week to help the guys coming out of the game a week ago, and the focus was terrific, obviously. They had their legs, they ran hard and fast, they looked fast, we played fast, and we took advantage of it.
"We had to cut down the tempo on Wednesday and Thursday to make sure guys could practice. Otherwise guys would have been sitting on the sidelines, so in doing so we called on them to really focus and stay with it and not relax with that thought. A number of guys really felt they were able to tune in in a different fashion. Then we tempo'd up as opposed to tapering down, by Friday we hit it pretty hard and fast."
2. The linebackers had one of their best games of the season.
Obviously the entire front seven played well for the Seahawks to hold Adrian Peterson to 18 yards on 8 carries, but another sign of improvement Carroll saw was the way his linebackers played on pass defense. The Seahawks' defense has never been designed to eliminate every short pass—Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl record for completions in what was one of the Seahawks' most dominant victories in a championship season—but when the defense is playing well, big plays are eliminated and short catches are contained with good tackling.
"It was a great day of tackling. I love it," Carroll said.
Carroll agreed with the assessment that Sunday was one of the best games of the year for his 'backers: "I really (thought so) too. I was really fired up about that. It was a big emphasis this week. We kind of took a step back fundamentally to make sure we were on point with that. I'm hoping that won't change."
3. Russell Wilson huge numbers are a collective effort.
With Russell Wilson playing so well over the past three games, it's easy to look at his 11 touchdowns with no interceptions over that span and assume Wilson has turned a corner, but Carroll said, "I don't think that's the case, I think this is the case of everybody improving and feeding off of one another.
"I think it's a continuation of what has been happening. I don't think anything has changed, I don't think all of sudden the light went on or anything. I think we're just working together. Look at the difference in us protecting the quarterback. The guys are so solid up front, they're so confident at what they're doing, they're making their calls, the ball's out really quick. When we are like that, that's what Russell can look like, and he's been on a three or four-game stint of really showing that."
4. Frank Clark will get more work as an interior pass rusher.
With Jordan Hill and Demarcus Dobbs both sidelined by injuries, rookie defensive end Frank Clark had his busiest and best game of the season, registering two sacks and two passes defensed while working extensively in the nickel defense as an interior pass-rusher.
"Frank was really good yesterday, he was all over the place," Carroll said. "He can get so much better and so much cleaner, but was really a factor yesterday."
Carroll noted that they have looked at Clark as an option in that role in the past, but that he had looked more comfortable at end, the position he played in college. With the way Clark played, it's safe to assume he'll get more chances to shine from the interior spot.
"I wish now as I look back we would left him in there and made him fight through it, because the athlete on the field is what's so cool," Carroll said "… He'll get a big shot to show up in there again."
5. Carroll had a "marvelous time" catching up with former bosses.
Returning to Minnesota was a big deal for Carroll because it is where he spent five years early in his career, and particularly because of the time he spent learning from Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant. Carroll caught up with Grant on the field before the game, and then got a surprise when he also saw Jerry Burns, who took over the starting job after Grant retired.
Carroll said Grant told him Burns wasn't going to be at the game, but "then about 10 minutes later after we finished talking, Burnsey comes out of nowhere and just shows up… It was a great surprise, I didn't think he was going to show."
Of his time in Minnesota, Carroll said, "It was such a wonderful time. I was such a young punk on that staff. Everybody was so old, they'd been around so long. Everybody walked in slow motion in the building, everybody was so slow and methodical, and here I'm bouncing off the walls and all."
And on Grant, Carroll said, "The spirit and the light in his eye and his marvelous nature was really obvious."
Carroll also didn't try to hide the fact that it meant a lot for him to have his team playing so well in front of two former bosses: "I love that. In front of those guys, they've been great followers, they've always been really supportive and stuff, but to be able to go there and do that, that was pretty fun."
The Week 13 matchup in Minnesota saw five Seahawks touchdowns, an Earl Thomas interception and two sacks by Frank Clark that all contributed to a 38-7 team win over the Vikings.