Sunday was a pretty bad day for the Seahawks, who not only lost to the Arizona Cardinals, but who are also dealing with some pretty significant injuries.
But as bad as things went for Seattle in a 27-13 loss to Arizona, the Seahawks are prepared to quickly turn their attention to next week's game knowing a ton is still at stake when they host the San Francisco 49ers next week despite what was an unambiguously bad day at the office. The Seahawks are already in the playoffs, as are the 49ers, but when those two teams face off on Sunday night, it will be for the NFC West title. If the Seahawks win, they are guaranteed at least one home game in the playoffs, and depending on some other NFC results, a first-round bye is still in play. The 49ers, meanwhile, could clinch the No. 1 overall seed with a win in Seattle.
"We had a really difficult day, obviously," Carroll said. "Boy, nothing worked out the way we wanted it to, other than the first couple of drives. After that, we just weren't able to do enough to have a chance to win the game. It didn't matter what phase we were in, we just weren't good enough today. We were ready to play, and jacked up and all that, and it turns out like that. It's just really a surprise."
But, Carroll noted, "Everything comes down to the final week of the season. We're fortunate that we have a chance to play for the division this late in the year. What's important for us is to be disciplined about this so that we can turn our focus to that week, and not be affected by what just happened. We do that really well. It's already started, and the mentality has to go to getting on—there's nothing we can do about this thing. There were so many things that just weren't right for us today. That's kind of what it is."
The Seahawks know they didn't play well on Sunday, but they also know that a bad week doesn't have to carry over to the next game. The Seahawks have responded well to all three of their previous losses this season, beating Arizona, Atlanta and Carolina after losses to New Orleans, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Rams, and dating back to the start of the 2012 season—Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner's rookie year—the Seahawks are 31-7 coming off of a regular-season loss.
"Ultimately the good thing is we have a chance to win the NFC West," Wilson said. "That's the reality. That's the truth. And the truth is we got to play better too. So both of those things are real. I don't think there's anybody better than us to be able to figure out how to answer back."
Added tight end Luke Willson, "The silver lining is that it's all on the line next week. Every year, we set our goal for the NFC West. I'm sure CenturyLink Field will be rocking for sure next Sunday."
Whether it was last year when the Seahawks missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth in San Francisco, only to bounce back with a win over a very good Kansas City Chiefs team the next week, or during the best season in franchise history, the Seahawks have shown the ability to turn late-season losses into afterthoughts rather than season-wrecking outcomes. As Wagner noted after Sunday's game, even the Super Bowl-winning team of 2013 lost two games late in the season, dropping a Week 14 road game at San Francisco and a Week 16 home game to the Cardinals, only to finish with a Week 17 win to clinch the No. 1 seed.
"Me, K.J. (Wright), Russ, we've been in a lot of situations, good and bad, at the end of the season, in 2013, it was a similar situation, and it turned out really well for us," Wagner said. "At the end of the day it's your mindset. You take in this loss, feel the way you want to feel towards it, but after that, move forward, because that team coming in next week, they don't care what happened today, they just want to win and get a bye. You let this game sink in for a second, move on and be ready come next week."
As for what it will take to get back on track next week, Wagner said, "We have to be consistent. The best teams are the ones that are the most consistent. As we learn how to be a great team, consistency is something we need to learn if we want to go as far as we want to go."
There wasn't much to like about Sunday's game from a Seattle perspective, but with an ugly loss now in the rearview mirror, the Seahawks know they can still accomplish something big if they can once again prove resilient after a loss.
"We definitely dropped the ball today, but we've still got everything in front of us, which is a blessing," safety Bradley McDougald said. "The only thing we can do is bounce back and get ready to beat the 49ers… We just got beat today. We dropped the ball. We had a beautiful opportunity and we didn't take advantage, but we still have another opportunity, and that's what's most important. We're going to come in, we're going to focus on the 49ers. The 49ers have all of our attention, that's it. We know we've got to do. We're not a sub-.500 team—we know how to win. We know what we need to do to win, and guys just have to come in with a one-game season mindset."