A day after the Seahawks beat the Lions in dominant fashion, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll remained impressed with the effort he saw out of his team in a 51-29 victory that came a week after his team was eliminated from the postseason contention.
"I was really pleased about it," Carroll said Monday. "We had a really good week, and it was upbeat and energetic and competitive. It carried right over into the weekend. Maybe other people are questioning why that happens or how that happens, but these guys are doing what they know how to do and they've got a lot of pride and they want to finish it on a good note. They're doing everything they can to get that done."
In addition to Carroll liking the way his team played with pride, here are five other takeaways from his Monday press conference:
1. Carroll likes the way the Seahawks are taking care of the football, but is surprised it hasn't resulted in more victories.
The Seahawks were turnover free on Sunday, their ninth such game this season, and they have committed only 11 turnovers this season, the second fewest in the NFL. The nine turnover-free games are the most in a season in team history, which is something to be proud off for the offense, but Carroll is surprised that type of ball security hasn't led to more wins, with the Seahawks going just 4-5 in those turnover-free games.
"Absolutely, I've been surprised about that all year long," he said. "We've had games where when you come out even, you have a really good chance to win there too. We have not been able to take advantage of the fact that we've been that good at it. It does speak to if we'd had a normal season and we'd been in the middle pack somewhere, it would have been really ugly. Taking care of the football is such a positive factor for your club. That starts with the quarterback, but everybody that has the chance to touch the football or protect the football has a play in that. It's a really good accomplishment."
2. DK Metcalf has done a good job of handling a challenging season.
Following a three-touchdown performance against the Lions, receiver DK Metcalf acknowledged that at times, particularly midway through the season, he dealt with some frustration. For starters, Metcalf's production dipped midway through the year, then when you add to that the fact that he has been battling through a foot injury almost all season, and that for a stretch early in the season he was on the wrong end of a handful of penalty calls, and it's understandable that it has been a somewhat trying year for a player who only recently turned 24. Through the ups and downs, however, Carroll has seen a good response from his team's talented young receiver.
"We've been going all of the stages that have kind of happened with DK," Carroll said. "Maybe I missed a couple of them, but we've been working at stuff pretty much all year, and it's been a good year in that regard. You remember right off the bat, it was really feisty and he was trying to figure out how aggressive he was going to be and how much of a factor he could be. He found out that he was getting a lot of attention from officials, and he had to find the right rhythm and the right kind of mentality and we've been working at it. It is a big growth year for him, and he's doing really well. He's coming out the other end of this thing stronger and better and more committed to how he plays and how he works and the expectations that he's living with. I think it's been a great year in that regard and it hasn't been easy. It's been uncomfortable at times, but he's figured his way through it. The best thing about is that he's been really open minded and he's been willing to talk about stuff and he hasn't been thinking he's got all the answers. He's really been good in that way and so he's going be better for it."
3. It was a really good day for the offensive line.
In general, if a team's offense is functioning well, there's a good chance that the offensive line has a big part in that success, and that was definitely the case Sunday as the Seahawks gained a season-best 497 yards while rushing for a season-high 265, with the Lions recording only one sack and three quarterback hits. That the Seahawks did that down two starters—Jake Curhan was filling in for Brandon Shell again at right tackle, and Phil Haynes started in place of Damien Lewis at left guard—made the performance all the more impressive.
"Phil played a really nice football game, he played physical, he was on point with his calls and his assignments, and he's a tough guy," Carroll said. "He plays a lot like Gabe (Jackson), they have very much similar styles, they are real physical, have real strong upper bodies, and are hard to knock back. He had good effort and he played really well. Jake has continued to play real steady football for us and he's becoming more physical. He is a guy that is going to get a lot of movement when he's really confident and sure of himself in all situations, but he's playing ahead of his experience, I think. Mike (Solari) and Andy (Dickerson) the whole time they have talked to him, he really gets it and it makes sense to him. He can translate the identification at the line of scrimmage, the calls that are made, the demands of the next call or play, and he doesn't have any trouble. He also has adjusted really well, he got rushed one time yesterday in the game that was of note, but other than that he played a really solid football game.
"It was really noticeable that (the offensive line) played really consistent. They gave up one sack and we ran the football like crazy. They really competed downfield, there were some really nice plays of guys finishing plays downfield on longer plays, (Ethan) Pocic and Duane Brown getting down there. It starts there, but the whole flow was really part of the run and the pass fitting off of each other and that was great that everybody was contributing there. I think everybody got a chance to catch the ball, run the football, and everybody was involved. Russ (Wilson) did a really nice job at the line of scrimmage, run and pass, and in the protection that he had to do, so everybody fit together really strong. Gerald Everett played a nice game, he had a nice contribution. Colby (Parkinson) got a shot to do something, all of the receivers helped out. I thought Tyler (Lockett) had a particularly good game in blocking down field, he made a couple of key blocks on big plays, so there was a lot of stuff that added to it, but it starts up front and the guys did a really good job, and I'm really pleased with how they played."
4. Cody Barton was impressive after taking over for Bobby Wagner.
While he has been one of the Seahawks' best special teams players over the past three seasons, Cody Barton has had limited opportunities at linebacker while finding himself behind Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, and later Jordyn Brooks, on the depth chart. But with Wagner going down with an injury on the defense's first play of the game, Barton found himself taking over at middle linebacker, and he played well, recording seven tackles, one for a loss, as well as a pass defensed and a quarterback hit.
"He played really fast, played with confidence, he attacked the line of scrimmage really well, he attacked blockers well on his way to the football, and it was the most confident he's been," Carroll said. "That really is a big factor playing in there because you have to go, if you see stuff you have to go, and he did. He got involved in the pass game, he had a couple of rush opportunities too that he would like to have again, but all in all, he did a really nice job."
In addition to handling the physical side of the position, Barton also did well handling the aspect of the job that involves getting the defensive calls on the headset in his helmet and communicating with the defense.
"Cody is really good at it, so those guys know that he can handle his business," he said. "(Safety) Quandre (Diggs) is always involved, he's always involved in the communications, he's trying to see things and help guys out all of the time; that is ongoing, but Cody has no problem handling it. He has called a ton of plays for us in practice and all of that, and it has never been an issue. He still had to go out there for the first time and take over, and he did a great job."
5. Updates on Bobby Wagner and other injured Seahawks.
When it comes to Pro-Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who left the game with a knee injury on the Lions' first play from scrimmage, Carroll reiterated Monday afternoon what he had said in the morning on his weekly appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle, which is that Wagner did not sustain serious damage and will not need surgery. His status for Sunday's game, however, remains in question.
"He's got a sprained knee," Carroll said. "It's swollen today, but it's not the kind of damage that would make you have to get surgery. We've just got to find out what the recovery time is like and take care of him right now."
Asked about Sunday's season-finale in Arizona, Carroll said, "I don't know that yet. I don't know that."
In other injury news, Carroll said Carlos Dunlap II twisted his ankle and added, "I don't know how serious it is. It wasn't terrible today. He has a chance to play this week."
Tight end Will Dissly, who left the game with heel injury, "has a really sore heel that is kind of an unusual injury, and we have to see how it takes to the week. We don't know yet."
Carroll said running back DeeJay Dallas, who bruised his thigh on a kick return, "seemed to be OK, he has to figure out how he comes back because he got pounded on the thigh pretty good."
See what Seahawks players are saying on social media following their Week 17 win vs. the Detroit Lions.