PITTSBURGH—Pete Carroll found himself facing conflicting emotions following what he described as a "heck of a football game" against the Steelers.
On one hand, his team, playing without Russell Wilson for the first time since 2011, and without starting running back Chris Carson, showed a ton of grit in the way it battled back from a 14-0 halftime deficit to eventually force a tie and send the game to overtime. On the other hand, the Seahawks weren't able to get the job done in overtime, with the Steelers winning 23-20. And now the Seahawks find themselves at 2-4 facing at least two more games without Wilson, who can't come off of injured reserve until Week 10 at the soonest.
"To see our club come back like we did in so many aspects of our game and play like that to give us a chance to get ahead, and have a chance to win a football game, it was beautiful," Carroll said. "It's a beautiful thing, and everybody had to hang to do that, all phases had to do it. It was really impressive, and the hard part is we lose, and I can't help these guys with that one. All the effort all the plays all the come through and the heart and all that kind of stuff, OK, but we didn't win. So, and that's the game, but God dang I'm proud of these guys, so proud to see that happen, see them fight like that and turn the game.
"This is a great, competitive group, they really are, and they showed you. Everyone who was watching, they showed them what they're made of and who they are and what they're all about."
Carroll explained that his message to the team was similar to what he said to the media after the game. He knows his players are hurting after another loss, one that has them currently sitting in last place in an incredibly tough NFC West, but he also so proud of how the team fought back to have a chance to win a game it was losing by two touchdowns to start the second half.
"I didn't have a good answer for them," Carroll said. "If I could make them feel better, I would, because we lost a game. However, I couldn't not talk about the effort and the comeback and the grit, and all of the guts that it takes to keep believing and keep counting on one another and keep pushing each. The sidelines, it was gorgeous. It was so electric down there and everybody was feeding off each other and helping each other it was a beautiful thing. The game gives you those opportunities sometimes, and that's the sick part is we don't get the win to capture all of that the way we'd like to.
"I can't help these guys with the reality that we didn't win the game. But the things we did to show who we are and what we're all about, why we work so hard and care so much, that was there, that was legit. They really, really deserved the chance to win this game, and unfortunately (the Steelers) made one more play than we did."
Linebacker Bobby Wagner, who like Wilson has never experienced a losing season since joining the Seahawks in 2012, called Sunday's game "a frustrating loss," but like his coach he was encouraged by what he saw in the second half.
"That first half, falling behind, we could have avoided that, but I like how we fought back, we gave ourselves an opportunity to win, and it's just unfortunate it didn't turn out that way," said Wagner, who had 14 tackles. "… It's a long season, there's a lot more games to be played, a lot more improvement we can make, and we've just got to move onto the next game, we can't let this game work its way into next week."
A big part of the impressive comeback was the play of quarterback Geno Smith, who was making his first start since 2017, and who played very well in leading a second-half offensive surge. Unfortunately for Smith and his team, that otherwise solid outing was marred by a fumble on what ended up being Seattle's final offensive play in overtime, a turnover that set up Pittsburgh's game-winning field goal. And despite that tough finish, Smith remains optimistic about what Seattle can do moving forward.
"I think we showed for the most part who we are as a team," Smith said. "To be down and to come out and in that second half and play the way that we did, that speaks to every man in that locker room. It's tough, it's super tough, but one thing I know about this team, we're not going to hang our heads. We're going to bounce back, we're going to find a way to bounce back and get a win."