The Seahawks returned to Seattle late Sunday night having clinched a playoff berth and in first place in the NFC West, the result of their win over Carolina, as well as the losses suffered by the 49ers and Rams.
A day later, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with the media to talk about Sunday's game, a fun moment on the team plane just before takeoff, an unfortunate suspension and more. Here are five takeaways from Carroll's Monday presser:
1. The Seahawks had "a cherished moment" on the plane before takeoff.
While the Seahawks waited for their flight home to take off on Sunday afternoon, the tense final moments of the Falcons-49ers game were playing out on cell phone screens throughout the plane, with players, coaches and staff crowded around seats to watch the dramatic closing seconds of the game.
Then, just as Julio Jones' go-ahead touchdown was being reviewed, the plane took off, meaning there was uncertainty about the result for a bit before it was confirmed that the Falcons had indeed taken the lead. The drama of that game, which allowed the Seahawks to move into first place, combined with the unique circumstance of how the team watched it, made for a special moment for the team.
"It was a really good moment," Carroll said. "It was a cherished moment. Everybody will always remember that."
2. Clinching another playoff berth is "really exciting" even if it's not the end goal.
The Seahawks have bigger goals than just making the playoffs, but they also know they should appreciate a significant accomplishment having clinched their seventh playoff berth in eight years, so Carroll still wants his team to enjoy it.
"It's really exciting," Carroll said. "It's really exciting. This is just the first step with going on in the playoffs. With a couple weeks to go and you know you're in, that's really exciting. It's a great accomplishment for our club and for our fans and all. Hope everybody's enjoying that. We were living it up last night on the plane. We had fun with it. To come out of it where we are right now and be one of the highest NFC seeds, after all that's happened so far, that's a good accomplishment for us. We've got to do something about it, but it's still a good accomplishment this time. It's nice to be the best. We're getting close to it."
3. The Seahawks know they can win anywhere.
Sunday's win gave the Seahawks a 7-1 road record for the season, the best road mark in franchise history. And while the Seahawks hope to be at home in the playoffs, that experience will be valuable should they have to go on the road in the postseason.
"I say in general about the travel season this year, we really did a great job," Carroll said. "I was really excited to see that we were able to finish it like that with a win on the road. Our guys have really taken to the challenge of how to do that. I'm really proud of them for coming out fast and playing good early in the game again and doing some good stuff on the road. It's just a really valuable tool and it could be an asset. If it happens to come up later on this year and we have the chance and we're on the road again, we'll feel as good as you can feel going wherever we got to go, and that's a real positive."
4. Success in close games shows the team's poise.
The Seahawks are 10-1 this season in one-score games (games decided by 8 points or fewer), making them just the second team in NFL history, along with the 1978 Houston Oilers, to win 10 one-score games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Carroll says one reason his team thrives in those situations is the poise if the Seahawks' veteran leaders.
"I think we're a poised team," Carroll said. "I think it comes right from Russell (Wilson) and Bobby (Wagner). I think those guys on the field make other guys stay within themselves and not get scattered and continue to help us execute. It means really, the leadership that those guys offer, I would go right to that. We're never out of anything. We don't ever feel like that. To be like that and extend that message, you have to come across with poise or guys aren't going to listen to you and it's not going to have the effect. We have really good leadership. I would like to think that's a big part of it."
5. L.J. Collier had "his best game by far."
With Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah both unable to play Sunday, rookie L.J. Collier saw his most significant playing time of the season, playing 51 percent of Seattle's defensive snaps. Collier didn't record any stats in those 37 plays, but Carroll was encouraged by what he saw from the rookie.
"I thought he was really active," Carroll said. "He played a lot of plays. I think he played 40 plays or something like that. It was really a good outing for him. He was physical and played tough. We didn't get to the quarterback with him, but that's his best game by far of contributing. He's just going to stay in the mix now. He's really part of it."
6. Carroll's thoughts on the Josh Gordon suspension.
Seahawks receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Monday for violating the NFL policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.
Carroll said, "My heart goes out to Josh having to face this again," and made it clear that his concern was focused on Gordon's well-being and not about the Seahawks' depth at receiver.
"I don't even look at it like that," Carroll said. "He had impact to some extent it seemed like in every game. This isn't about that. This is about Josh getting well and taking care of business… We wish him the very best in taking care of business. It was very unfortunate."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 15 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.