ATLANTA—It was a game worthy of an old sports cliché borrowed from an even older Charles Dickens novel.
Just before he addressed the media following his team's 27-20 win over the Falcons, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had a chat with general manager John Schneider, who jokingly suggested a clichéd opening line that Carroll ended up actually using.
"This was really a tale of two halves," Carroll said. "That's for John. Couldn't have been more obvious."
And, well, it really was as if the Seahawks were two different teams on Sunday, dominating the first half on their way to a 24-0 lead, then allowing the Falcons back in the game with 20 second-half points to Seattle's three.
"We had a great first half, everybody did everything exactly the way we wanted to do it, functioned like crazy, and then it just didn't go that way after halftime and we have to do obviously a much better job on that," Carroll said.
Carroll didn't get into specifics about what led to the second half struggles, but put the blame squarely on his shoulders.
"That's lousy on our part that that happened," he said. "It should not happen like that. Really, I didn't do a good enough job in the transition from first half to second half, obviously… I've got to do a better job of making sense of the situation and all that and getting them to play better."
Carroll later added, "I didn't do a good enough job. Obviously, they went out there and we looked like we were a totally different team. So I don't know, there's a lot of things. I'm not going to go into it, but there's a lot of things that take place when you don't play well, and I've just got to do a better job making sure that that doesn't happen."
Making this type of game all the more unusual is how rare a game like this is for the Seahawks, who tend to be a team that finishes strong, even if the start of a game doesn't go as they had hoped.
"We did exactly the opposite of what's usually being done in a game," said receiver Tyler Lockett, who had six catches for 100 yards.
And though the Seahawks would have liked to have played better for all four quarters, they were also quick to give credit to the Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn, who had his team battling to the end despite the 1-6 record they came into the game with, and despite having backup quarterback Matt Schaub playing in place of Matt Ryan, and despite the big deficit early.
"Great job by them, great job," Carroll said. "Their resolve to keep fighting and clawing and scratching, they got physical, took over the game, really. Fortunate we were out ahead enough to hold them off. But it was a great testament to Danny and what he's doing with these guys, the mentality and attitude and all of that. Backup quarterback threw the ball for a million yards today. Did a great job. They have a lot of stuff to build on."
Said linebacker K.J. Wright: "Obviously we're happy with the win, it's just that we want to win in a more beautiful fashion. But it happens, they're a hard-working team, they fought to the very end. That's a tribute to DQ, he just made sure those guys kept battling, kept fighting with a backup quarterback. So they're a good football team as well… When it comes to the second half, we've just got to be able to continue to jump on them, regardless of what the score is, continue to go out there and play. Because you can't give a team a chance. When you give a team a chance, they're going to continue to play, and they did exactly that, came back. So for us, that's something we've got to learn."
But while it's easy to nitpick after the Seahawks turned a potential blowout into a tense second half, they feel like they're in very good shape from a big-picture standpoint. Sunday's win improved Seattle's record to 6-2 halfway through the season, a very strong record especially considering the Seahawks have traditionally been a strong finishing team under Carroll. The Seahawks also showed once again that they're a very good road team, improving to 4-0 this season away from CenturyLink Field, including a 3-0 record in 10 a.m. PT kickoffs. Add it all up, and that's a strong first half for a young team that still feels like it's finding its way.
"We don't quite have it yet, we're not quite there," Carroll said. "In one regard to be 6-2 and to be feeling that isn't so bad. We got a ways to go here, but we're going to finish. This club has finished forever and we're going to do it again and this, these next eight weeks will tell the whole story for everybody in the league. This story is not written. You guys write the stories thinking that you know, but it ain't written yet for real. So we have a chance to do our part and we're going to see if we can cause some problems for the rest of the league."
Said linebacker Bobby Wagner, who on Sunday became the franchise's all-time leading tackler, "Obviously, we have to finish better, we have to play better, but at the end of the day, we're 6-2 with things to clean up, we can be happy about that."