The Seahawks won a thriller over the Buffalo Bills Monday night, and now turn their focus to the AFC East-leading New England Patriots. But before we look ahead to what should be an exciting matchup in Foxborough, here is some of what Carroll said about his team’s play in Monday’s 31-25 win over the Bills, as well as the health of the team via his weekly appearance on the Brock and Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
1. The defense will be stronger for these past three games.
Monday’s win marked the third straight game in which the Seahawks have lost the time of possession battle, meaning a heavy workload for the defense. While some might see that as a bad thing for the defense because it could wear those players down, Carroll looks at it the other way, saying his defense will be stronger for it.
“Our defensive guys have been through so much challenge in the last month that they’re getting stronger,” Carroll said. “It’s not like they’re getting worn, they’re getting stronger. They’re getting in shape for the run and all of that. The experiences we’ve gained and the confidence it takes to hold it together when it’s crazy and all of that, we’re getting better. It’s a good experience for us.”
2. Richard Sherman did the right thing on Buffalo’s final offensive play.
With Buffalo needing a touchdown on fourth down in the final seconds of the game, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor rolled to his left, and as he did that, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman knocked over Walter Powell, the receiver in front of him. The play instantly stirred up some internet outrage, but Sherman did the right thing, both according to his coach and the rule book. When a quarterback leaves the pocket, he is considered a runner, which means his receivers now can also be blockers, and with that, defensive backs have the right to fight of those potential blocks. Now had Taylor thrown the ball towards Powell as Sherman knocked him down, that would still be pass interference, but that isn’t what happened.
“He was holding the football, so that put us into what we refer as plaster mode,” Carroll said. “That means you’re in the scramble mode. Guys have to look guys up and work guys. There's talk about Sherm’s chuck down there, that’s totally legal. When the quarterback moves outside the pocket, you’re allowed to chuck the receiver.”
Asked if they teach defensive backs to do that when a quarterback leaves the pocket, Carroll said, “Sure, sure you do. You have to do it legally—you can’t take a cheap shot on the guy. He did it exactly right, it just happened to be a very physical shot, but you have a chance to eliminate receiver. That’s what you’re trying to get done in that situation, you’re plastering them. Everybody functioned beautifully and we covered them up really well.”
3. The Seahawks “went after it” in the passing game, but still want to run the ball.
As Carroll mentioned after the game, the decision to take more shots downfield was made last weekend before the team had even returned from New Orleans, a shift that had to wait for quarterback Russell Wilson to get healthier, and one Carroll sees as being just as significant as the one the Seahawks made during the bye last season when they put a big emphasis on getting the ball out of Wilson’s hands more quickly.
“It was just time,” Carroll said. “Sometimes you’ve got to make adjustments in a significant way. I think this week was equal to the one at bye time last year. We had to make some significant declarations of where we are, what’s going on, what’s coming up. I had to feed off of Russell because I had to look him in the eyes and make sure he could take to it.”
The Seahawks improvements in the passing game bode well for the second half of the season, but that doesn’t mean the Seahawks won’t still try to get the running game going.
“I think it was pretty clear,” Carroll said. “We lit it up a little bit and went after it. We left the mode of just trying to get through the games and survive. I thought you saw a tremendous game plan by (Darrell Bevell) and Tom Cable, those guys really put it together. We cut ‘em loose this week… With the end of the season coming up, we’ve got to cut it loose if we’re going to have a chance to have our guys at our best, so we’re making some strides. That was a good step forward. We’ve got a lot of work to do, we’ve got to keep the running game developing. It’s not where we want it to be at all. We’ll see what happens, maybe it doesn’t come around, I don’t know. We’re going to shoot for, I’m not leaving the thought of trying to balance this thing out, but we do know we don’t have to run the football to win football games, but we want to. So that’s going to be important, so we’re going to keep battling and see if we can bring it around.
“Last night everything we were throwing was open, so we just kept doing it… We didn’t make much progress in this game towards the run, but we’re not backing off on that at all.”
4. Neiko Thorpe has been a “great acquisition.”
When the Seahawks had to give the ball back to Buffalo late in the game, Jon Ryan boomed a 62-yard punt, and despite that huge kick, the Bills managed only a 13-yard return because Neiko Thorpe and Kevin Pierre-Louis got downfield quickly to make the stop. It was just the latest big special teams play for Thorpe, who the Seahawks were able to sign in Week 2 as a free agent.
“He was really great acquisition, really like we got a big boost out of Kelcie McCray last year, Neiko’s doing it,” Carroll said. “He’s having a fantastic year for us. He’s just doing everything we ask him to do with special plays happening, special coverage, special work helping us in all phases of the kicking game. And Neiko can play (cornerback) too. I’ve got no problem with Neiko playing corner. He has played a lot of press stuff and has a good feel for it, he’s got really good speed, a tough, natural player. That was a great acquisition. I don’t know how he was available.”
5. Injury updates.
Carroll did not report any new injuries from the game, but he did give updates on some players who didn’t play on Monday.
Carroll said running back Thomas Rawls (fibula) won’t play against the Patriots this week, but, “I think he’ll practice this week for the first time… I’ve seen him running in his workouts, and he looks great, so he should be ready to go (in practice), then we’ll see what happens next week.”
Carroll said safety Kam Chancellor is “really ready to go,” after missing four games with a groin injury, though as he pointed out after the game, Chancellor still has to get through the week without any issues.
Tight end Luke Willson has “got a shot at coming back,” after missing three games following knee surgery, as does left tackle Bradley Sowell, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury.
Cornerback DeAndre Elliott, another big special teams contributor, should also be back this week.
See some of the action from Monday Night Football, Seahawks vs Bills during Week 9 at CenturyLink Field.