On Friday morning, Pete Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Salk" to talk about his team's 20-3 Week 7 road win over the San Francisco 49ers. Here's four key takeaways from the station's conversation with the Seahawks head coach:
1. How Much Value Does Seattle's Win Over San Francisco Hold?
The Seahawks finally found a way to finish a football game the way they've grown accustomed to after the team had relinquished fourth-quarter leads in each of its four losses this season. But Carroll didn't want to make a big deal about the way his club finished the ball game, simply saying that's the way Seattle is "supposed to play."
"I don't want to make a big deal about finishing right," Carroll said. "That's like trying hard, 'Oh boy, we really tried hard.' Well, of course we tried hard. Of course we finished. That's how we're supposed to play. I've been just utterly disappointed in the fact that we haven't done that to get two, three wins as well earlier in the year. So that's the way we know how to play."
The Seahawks' third win of the season came against a 49ers team that many in the media have labeled as having a down year, bringing into question the value that Seattle's win over San Francisco holds. Carroll doesn't see it that way, though.
"They had the Giants on the ropes a couple weeks ago, they just beat the heck out of the Ravens, it looked like they were making a turn as a team and starting to find a new stride," Carroll said of San Francisco's season. "That's what it looked like going in and we played them and we had them pretty much in control from the start. The run game was so effective early on and we could see that we could use the clock and we could convert a little bit and all that.
"It didn't look like the same team that maybe some people expected, but that's the last thing we're worried about. What people say about the quality of it and all that, we don't care about that. We need to get better. There's areas in that game last night that showed up we have not improved enough and we're not where we need to be. So we take all we can out of it. We'll move ahead. We're going to Dallas in a couple days here and we'll get this thing rolling and see if we can do it again. But to value wins and losses in this League, that's people that have too much time on their hands."
2. The Pass Game Needs To Quicken Its Rhythm
Carroll said one of the areas where improvement is needed comes with the offensive line's performance in pass protection. Wilson, who before Thursday's game had been sacked an NFL-high 26 times, was brought down five more times by the Niners defense. Carroll wasn't willing to go into great depth about the steps his team will take to improve in that area, but did note ways in which the rest of the offense can help out an offensive line that's still growing together.
"We need to quicken our rhythm up and take the pressure off those guys because we're just not doing as well as we need to at this point," Carroll said. "That's all. We're just going to mix our rhythms.
"You saw us with the big play-action last night, Russell's standing back there, he's 10 yards from anybody," Carroll added of Wilson's 43-yard touchdown toss to Tyler Lockett. "We want to see that a couple times a game. We want to make sure that the rhythm is fast and the ball is out so that we don't call on our guys to have to hold their blocks as long and we'll continue to improve fitting that together. It needs to be emphasized more clearly and I need to do a better job of that."
3. The Secondary Stood Out
The Seahawks collected a season-high six sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last night. Defensive end Michael Bennett had a career-high 3.5, defensive end Cliff Avril added 1.5, and defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and David King had a half-sack each. As a whole, the Seattle defense gave up just 142 yards, the second-fewest ever under Carroll. The Seahawks head coach credited the play of the secondary for helping Seattle's pass rush get home.
"I liked the way we played in the secondary," Carroll said. "I thought we really squashed them last night. The coverage was so good in general that he just kept holding the football, gave our guys a chance to feed off the rushes when they weren't really fast and hot. I thought that really fit together beautifully. There were a number of times they tried us deep and there were two guys covering the deep ball, so I thought the whole group played really solid against him."
Cornerback Richard Sherman shadowed Niners wideout Torrey Smith for most of the night, holding the big-play threat to zero catches. With Smith shutdown, Kaepernick's targets were primarily limited to tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Anquan Boldin, as the quarterback completed 13 of his 24 passes for 124 yards and was held without a rushing attempt for the first time in his career as a starter.
"We held him under wraps all night," Carroll said of Kaepernick. "I thought that was really a compliment to be paid for what was going on in the back end in conjunction with the rush, so I just give all the guys on defense the love."
4. The Run Game is "Making Progress"
The Seahawks had the NFL's No. 2-ranked rushing offense in terms of yards per game (137.8) coming into their Week 7 matchup with the Niners, but outside of Thomas Rawls' 169-yard effort against the Cincinnati Bengals, it didn't quite feel like Seattle had been able to establish a consistent ground game week to week. But Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries (4.5-yard average) against the 49ers behind an offensive line that Carroll said has recently been at its best in the run game.
"The last couple weeks have been our best couple weeks of coming off the football, so that means we're getting better," Carroll said. "We're able to rely on some things. That's what's really good for you when you can count on stuff that's going to happen, you know guys are going to do it so now you can predict and that's really consistent running.
"I think in the last two weeks if nothing else has happened we've captured the sense for how our guys can come off the football and how we can make our backside blocks available to the running back. You saw Marshawn cut back a couple beautiful times just like we had seen in Cincinnati too from Thomas. Those things are starting to happen. That's what a really big-time run game does and we've counted on that for years. We have had to work with it and we're still making progress."
In Santa Clara, the Seahawks dominated on both sides of the ball and return to Seattle with a 20-3 win over the 49ers.