The Seahawks came out of Sunday's game with one of their most exciting and impressive victories of the 2015, but unfortunately they also lost tight end Jimmy Graham. During his morning radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discussed Graham's recovery—as well as what the Seahawks will do on offense going forward—and plenty more from Sunday's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here are a few highlights from the show:
1. Graham is "broken hearted" about the injury, but should be back for the start of next season.
Update (11/30/15 at 3:10 p.m. PT): Jimmy Graham has been placed on injured reserve.
Carroll said that Graham was understandably upset following the injury, which is the first major injury of his career: "He's broken hearted. He wants to play. He loves this game and he wants to play for his teammates and play the game he loves, and he's not going to get to do that. It's really the first time he has faced a major injury like this, so it's devastating at this point. He was pretty broken up last night, and we spent a little time with him just to show him the love, because he needs it and deserves it."
Carroll did, however, say that this recovery, while lengthy, shouldn't carry into next season when asked if Graham would be back to full speed by the beginning of the 2016 season.
2. Carroll is confident the offense and TE Luke Willson will "be terrific" in Graham's absence.
On the very next play after Graham's injury, Russell Wilson connected with tight end Luke Willson for a 12-yard gain that helped set up a Jermaine Kearse touchdown two plays later. Going right to Willson following Graham's injury was not a coincidence, Carroll said.
"You saw what happened the very next play," Carroll said. "Russell went right back to Luke. Luke has had a tremendous time with us. He has been a very, very good football player and a big-play guy, and he'll just get more action, that's what that amounts to. You don't replace a Jimmy Graham. Jimmy Graham's a great personality on our team, he's a wonderful kid, everybody loves him, he's a great competitor and he's a fantastic talent; we just go do what we do with the guys we have, and we're fired up about that. It's most unfortunate and I'm just sick about him missing out, because he has just been making the turn with us and working with the transition of it; he's been great. It breaks my heart that he doesn't get to play, but as for going on, we're going to move ahead and keep going and we'll expect Luke to step up and do the things that he can do… I think he's going to be a terrific player for us down the stretch."
3. The offensive line played a big role in a huge day for Russell Wilson and the offense.
Russell Wilson was terrific in Sunday's game throwing for 345 yards and five touchdowns, but Carroll was quick to praise the line as well for giving its quarterback time to operate.
"The protection was really solid," Carroll said. "We've seen during the course of this season that when Russell really has that great pocket, he's standing in there and firing it. He looks better at it than he has in other years, and yesterday the more the game went on, the more comfortable he became, and he was just ripping. It was really cool to see that.
"It has changed for a month now. You guys can keep talking about the past, but it has changed; we're better. We've given up six sacks in four games or something like that, and we gave up a million in the first ones. We're way better there, and the result of that is cleaner play, the quarterback's more comfortable, he can hang in the pocket, he can utilize the receivers better, all of that. That's shown enough that I think we've made a big jump now."
Wilson's play, the line's improvement and the standout play of the receivers contributed to another successful day in two areas that had been issues prior to the last two games: red-zone and third-down efficiency.
"I think it's all tied together with what's going on up front," Carroll said of his team going 7 for 13 on third down and 4 for 4 in the red zone. "I think the protection is really helping us. We've always said whatever we turn Russell to that he's got to fix, he's fixes it, and he's applied himself. But I think it's also the guys coming through catching the ball. We've made the catches and the guys have come through tough… Those kind of things all add up."
4. DeShawn Shead "came through in a really big way."
After taking the starting right cornerback job from Cary Williams last week, DeShawn Shead made sure he wasn't going to only be a one-week starter, turning in a very impressive performance against an offense that was intent on testing him and the rest of the secondary.
"He got an opportunity, he had four pass breakups in the game and just came through in a really big way, in as difficult a situation as you can get," Carroll said. "They knew he was there, we didn't hide nothing. He had to stand up and he did. That was a great story, and he'll go into this week with more confidence and we'll look forward to seeing how that turns out."
5. Carroll was "fired up" with the defensive effort despite some miscues
On one hand, the Steelers did pass for 480 yards and score 30 points, but on the other hand, the Seahawks came out of the game with four interceptions, and most importantly, with a victory. Carroll admits there were some issues in coverage at times, but also was quick to give credit to the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"Gosh they were good," Carroll said. "Ben Roethlisberger is really the real deal. I don't know if I've ever been more impressed with a guy throwing the ball so accurately, so many times against difficult coverage and rush and movement and all that kind of stuff. He was great.
"We gave up a few busts on the scrambles that were unfortunate they were huge plays that were really stoppable. We got a little jumpy back there and chased the quarterback before we stayed in coverage and gave up a big play. But this was the most committed team to throwing the ball down the field… We gave them a few big plays. But again, they were fantastic, it was an incredible performance by the QB. I'm going to hand it to him. You guys may be all worried about it and want to talk about all these thing; I think our guys are going to be just fine. I'm fired up they played with the energy throughout this game and kept getting the football back to us, and we finally won a game with the turnovers going our way."
- Jimmy Graham Placed on Injured Reserve
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- Five Takeaways From the Seahawks 39-30 Win Over the Steelers
- Russell Wilson Overcomes Illness to Throw For 345 Yards and 5 TDs
- Doug Baldwin Enjoys Three Touchdown Day in Week 12 Win
The Legion of Boom doubled their interceptions on the season, Russell Wilson had a career-high 5 touchdowns on his birthday, and the team finished strong, winning 39-30 against the Steelers.