A day after a dramatic win over the Rams, one that featured a Geno Smith-led game-winning drive in the final three minutes of the game, the Seahawks are back in Seattle and feeling good about the state of the team as they prepare to close out the season with four of their last five games at home.
Of course, feeling good about the team in early December doesn't mean much if the Seahawks don't keep winning, but with a 7-5 record and with a lot of elements in place to finish strong, Carroll likes his team's chances heading into the final five weeks of the regular season.
"We've got to win some games," Carroll said. "If we keep winning games, we'll be OK, we'll have a shot at it. We have some of the elements that you need that we're fortunate—we've got leadership, we've got quarterback play, we've got a style about us, we've got a kicking game. We've got a lot of things that are really positive about this team. But it doesn't matter, that's just a bunch of gibberish unless we win some games. So we have to try to win out and win them one at a time and see what happens."
Here are five things we learned from Carroll's Monday press conference, including a few injury updates:
1. Geno Smith "should feel about as confident as you can feel" after another great performance.
In Sunday's win, Smith threw for a career-high 367 yards and three touchdowns, and he led a game-winning drive, completing six of nine attempts for 65 yards on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf.
"He played a really good football game," Carroll said. "He was in control of it, and he moved in the pocket really well—real subtle movements you know to just move up in (the pocket). He was just consistent, and he was comfortable the whole day. And it showed on the in the last drive, he just had no problem at all just executing the stuff. He didn't hit everything on that drive, but he hit everything he needed to hit. And really, he just again continues to show us that he's very much at home running our offense."
The game-winning drive was Smith's first as a Seahawk in the closing minutes of a game, and while no one on the team was doubting his abilities before that drive, Carroll does like that Smith was able to check that box off and move on without that question being out there about his play.
"I think it puts it to rest that, 'OK, he's done that. He's come from behind and led the final drive,'" Carroll said. "… At this point, he should feel about as confident as you can feel. He's done everything that he wants to do and hopes to do here at this point of the season, in so many different areas. We're seeing him at a point where he really can just add on to what he's done so far."
2. Cody Barton "has turned a corner" in his play.
Sunday's win was clinched when Cody Barton picked off a deep pass over the middle of the field, his second interception in the past three games. And those two interceptions, the other coming against Tom Brady, are just part of what has been a strong stretch of play for the fourth-year linebacker, who is in his first season as a starter. Barton also has 28 tackles in the past three games, as well as three passes defensed.
"I think he has turned a corner just in terms of confidence and what he's seeing," Carroll said. "He's showing his commitment and downhill play, his aggressive tackling and hitting. Across the board, he just looks the most confident he's been. It helps everybody play faster when you feel like that, and he's doing that."
3. Ryan Neal thinks he can play this weekend.
Safety Ryan Neal left a game with an injury for the second straight week, but just as he did last week, Neal is confident he can make a quick return. In Week 12, Neal injured his elbow and shoulder, but was able to return and start on Sunday against L.A., but he had to leave that game as well with a swollen knee. Neal tried to fight through the injury but eventually had to come out of the game, but he is hoping to once again get back without missing a game.
"He got banged, so he was hobbling for a little bit," Carroll said. "He played with it for a while… His knee is still sore, I talked to him today about it. We're going to have to wait and see what happens, but he feels like he'll be able to get back."
4. It's wait-and-see on the injured running backs.
The Seahawks went into Sunday's game without running back Travis Homer, who as Carroll said earlier in the day on his weekly radio show on Seattle Sports 710AM, is dealing with a knee sprain. Then in the game, Kenneth Walker III left with an ankle injury in the second quarter, then just before halftime, DeeJay Dallas injured his ankle. Dallas gutted it out and played through the injury, splitting time with Tony Jones Jr., and as of now, Carroll isn't sure what the status of those three will be this weekend.
"I can't give you much right now to go on, we'll wait on that," Carroll said. "But there's going to be some questions about how the guys make it back, and we'll have to wait and see how it goes. Right now, I can't tell you."
On Walker, Carroll reiterated that it's an unusual ankle injury and not the typical sprain.
"I don't have much more detail about it," he said. "He's got an area of ankle that's sore that he jammed. There's some strained tissue in there, but it's not an ankle sprain. It's not a high ankle sprain, it's not a lateral ankle sprain like we normally report on. It's different than that."
Asked with all that uncertainty if the Seahawks needed to add help at running back, Carroll said the Seahawks can turn to the practice squad if necessary, with Darwin Thompson and Godwin Igwebuike both available.
"We've got a couple of guys that are on the practice squad that are available to us, so we'll figure it with what we've got at this point," Carroll said.
5. Rashaad Penny is optimistic about his recovery, but is "still a ways from getting back."
When Rashaad Penny went down with an ankle injury in Week 5, one that required surgery, the belief was that it was season-ending. Penny, who rehabbing back home in the Los Angeles area, was in attendance at Sunday's game, and he told Ian Furness after the game that he might be able to make it back for a playoff run.
Carroll didn't shoot that idea down entirely, but he did note that Penny is not yet running and has a ways to go in his recovery.
"Well you've got to love his optimism," Carroll said. "He hasn't run yet. Who knows what's going to happen. He's still a ways from getting back, but I love that he feels really good about the process that he's in right now. That's a good sign."
Snoqualmie Casino players and staff participated in the punt, pass, and kick event at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on December 4, 2022. In addition, Seahawks Legend Thomas Rawls and Seahawks Dancers were in attendance at the event.