The Seattle Seahawks are back from frigid Minneapolis where playing on a minus-6 degree day meant that "everything you were doing was a challenge." That's how head coach Pete Carroll described the game on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday morning, noting that the weather factored into everything from the passing game to special teams, to, perhaps, Minnesota's missed kick in the final seconds of the game that allowed Seattle to escape with a 10-9 victory.
"Your body doesn't feel quite the same, your joints don't feel quite the same, so you just have to try to get it done," Carroll said. "There was a lot of room for error there, you could see it in our passing game, you could see it in their passing game too down the field. It was just very difficult, so you have to find a way to overcome it."
Here are five things we learned from Carroll's weekly segment on the Brock and Salk Show:
1. Carroll was really proud of his run defense.
While the Seahawks struggled to function on offense, the defense was outstanding all day long, limiting the Vikings to three field goals despite the offense and special teams handing them a couple of short fields. In particular, the Seahawks' run defense, which was the best in the NFL this season, limited Adrian Peterson to just 45 yards on 23 carries.
"The defense kept us in it all day long," Carroll said. "They did a great job. It was a freaking masterpiece of run defense. That's a great player, and they were determined to run it, and they gave him plenty of shots, and just play after play after play after play… it was a great job.
"It takes everybody. It takes the coaches, the players, the practice, the belief in the system so they'll continue to do the right thing. See, you can do the right thing sometimes, it's how can you get it done throughout the whole challenge? That was really, really well done. That was a great job by the guys."
Carroll was particularly excited about the way his defense fought to the very end, stopping Peterson on third down one play before Minnesota's field-goal attempt.
"My favorite sequence in the game was the last three plays on defense," Carroll said. "After (Kyle Rudolph) catches the ball and he's on the 20-yard line, there's a lot of teams that can't stop Adrian Peterson right there. They're running downhill and coming at you—they weren't just trying to kill the clock—and our guys stepped up and smacked him and smacked him again. The final hit of that three-play sequence was Kam hitting him right short of the sticks, so it's fourth down and they have to kick it and give us as much time as we could possibly have. That finish right there, to me, that was an emotional sign. After a huge day and an extraordinary even we were in, to finish it off and have that kind of result is just awesome."
2. That run defense included the cornerbacks.
When people talk about run defense, the focus is usually on the front seven, and Seattle's linebackers and linemen deserve plenty of credit, but when it came to slowing down Peterson, it was truly a team effort, all the way out to the cornerbacks. DeShawn Shead was in on the tackle on that last third-down carry Carroll referenced, while Richard Sherman had six solo tackles, three of which came on Peterson runs, including one that stopped for a 1-yard loss on the first play of the game.
"Richard Sherman tackled his butt off yesterday," Carroll said. "It was a dang clinic of a corner playing physical football and tackling and hitting guys. Look at the first play of the game, he makes a play on the other side of the field… It was textbook. All the stuff you've heard us talk about, our style of tackling, it's on film all over the place."
3. Michael Bennett was "an amazing player" again on Sunday.
While the stat sheet doesn't indicate it—Michael Bennett finished with three tackles, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed—Seattle's Pro Bowl defensive end was a huge factor in Sunday's game. Bennett frequently was in the backfield quickly on running plays, which didn't always result in tackles for him, but was enough to ruin the play for the Vikings. Bennett did get flagged for being in the neutral zone once, but that's something the Seahawks are willing to live with for such disruptive play the rest of the time.
"He's an amazing player, man," Carroll said. "It's just instinct. He's so savvy. He sees things quicker than other guys and he can react to it. He had one mistake in the game that cost us, but other than that he was all over the place. You're going to give and take a little bit with his sense. Marvelous play. He wasn't the only one though, the whole group played great."
Less impressive to Carroll, however, was the way Bennett reacted to what Carroll described as a scrape on his knee. Bennett stayed down on a fourth-quarter play, but was quickly back on the game after being checked out on the field by trainers.
"I looked at Mike and he's kind of rolling around, and they pull his knee pad up, and he has like a strawberry on his knee," Carroll said. "I said, 'Oh, come on. You better ham it up now, you're down, they're all watching you. Milk it, because I know you'll be in the next play.'"
And sure enough, Bennett was back in the game after missing one play.
4. Updates on Luke Willson, Marshawn Lynch, Jon Ryan and Will Tukuafu.
Carroll said fullback Will Tukuafu had some sort of hamstring issue coming out of the game, but other than Jon Ryan's nose injury, that was the only injury Carroll mentioned coming out of the game.
"Jonny didn't look too good today," Carroll said with a laugh. "I don't know if it's black and blue yet, but you're not going to recognize him… It was awesome he hung in the game and finished it for us."
Tight end Luke Willson "should be back," Carroll said after missing a second game with a concussion, but he'll have to get through the concussion protocol this week.
"Luke almost made it back," Carroll said. "He should be fine, but he'll still have to go through everything day to day to make sure he makes it."
As for running back Marshawn Lynch, who was ruled out on Friday and did not make the trip, Carroll said Lynch just didn't feel like he could go after his first week of practice since having abdomen surgery.
"He did look good, he ran hard, he took all his reps, but he didn't feel like he could go, he didn't have the confidence," Carroll said. "It's not the same thing in practice. You don't get those explosive change of directions when you can't predict them. And in particular, the injury he has, right in the middle of his core—and we all know how he runs—he didn't feel like he could do it. There's nothing else you can say, that's it.
"This is the first time he has ever had surgery, first time he has ever had something like this to come back from, and he couldn't see his way through it yet."
5. The Seahawks are "up against a very, very hard team" this week in Carolina.
The Seahawks will play at Carolina in the divisional round Sunday, facing a 15-1 Panthers team that won in Seattle early in the season. Carroll knows the Seahawks will have their hands full with a team that has always played them tough.
"They have found it," Carroll said. "They have found all the stuff you have to find to have a great season. They have always been a talented group, we've always struggled with these guys, but they've found that connection between offense and defense and special teams that allows them to continue to just be dominant. They've had a dominant football season. They're at their best. We're up against a very, very hard team to go against."
The Seahawks hit the road and traveled to Minnesota for the second time this season for the NFC Wild Card Playoff matchup at TCF Bank Stadium and escape with a 10-9 victory to advance to next Sunday's NFC Divisional round.