The Seahawks beat Philadelphia 24-10 on Sunday night, handing the Eagles just their second loss of the season, and a day later, that performance looked just as good to head coach Pete Carroll on film as it did from Seattle's sideline.
"We really liked the film," Carroll said. "A lot of good work in this film. The players played really hard like we needed to, and we played smart and stayed out of our own way for the most part. We made it a game where we didn't give them much, so they really had to earn it, and it worked out really well for us, really in all phases."
Here are five things we learned from Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. Carroll is waiting for astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to return his call.
In a game full of big plays for quarterback Russell Wilson, one stood out both because of how impressive of a play it was, but also because it was almost an optical illusion. In the midst of a fourth-quarter scramble, Wilson saw running back Mike Davis to his right and elected to pitch the ball to the running back six yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Davis was trailing Wilson when the ball left his hands, and it looked like a backwards pitch leaving Wilson's hand, but thanks to the momentum of Wilson running at close to full speed, the ball might have drifted forward a bit by the time it got to Davis.
Carroll was so intrigued by the physics involved in that play that he reached out to renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Monday, though Carroll had not yet heard back by the time he met with the media Monday.
"He hasn't called me back yet," Carroll said. "I'm waiting for a call."
Asked what he thought of the play, Carroll said, "It looked like guys running really fast, and he pitched the ball backwards, just like he's supposed to, and the speed of the ball that was traveling with the ball with the ball carrier at the time was passed along to the football, so it all just happened, everything moved. I just want to see what Dr. Neil has to say about that, try to help you guys out.
"It clearly looked like he pitched the ball backwards, but everybody kept moving, so we'll see what happens."
And this wasn't a cold-call to Tyson. He visited a Seahawks practice last season while in town for a lecture in Seattle.
"Well I wouldn't say he's a close personal friend, but he did visit here, we had an afternoon together," Carroll said. "He really likes football, so I felt like that's enough of an open ticket to go ahead and give him a call on something like this. He's kind of like the national resident guru on stuff like this. I'm counting on him responding before long so we can put it out there to him."
During his visit last year, Tyson explained why he is such a big fan of football, saying, "There's no greater expression of the laws of physics than what goes on on the football field. Spin stabilized projectiles, momentum transfer, acceleration, deceleration, it's all there. Classical physics laid bare in America's favorite sport. All I could do is share the fact that they're not playing in a vacuum, there's laws of physics that operate on the field alongside them and the more you know then the more you can exploit them in your favor."
And while it's very rare to see an NFL quarterback essentially running the option 6 yards down field, Carroll doesn't mind letting a player he trusts as much as Wilson make that call.
"I was taught a long time ago by Coach (Bud) Grant that if you have really good players and really good athletes, and they feel comfortable, laterals are one of the best plays in the game," Carroll said. "He said that years ago. There's some guys we tell, 'You can't do it.' But there are some guys—I think Russ made the point about working with Mike; you can see Mike was looking for the ball. So sometimes those special moments happen and terrific players pull it off, but it's not something that's going to happen on a regular basis.
2. Injury Updates.
While the Seahawks were fortunate to not sustain any new injuries Sunday, there was a bit of injury news.
Carroll said the status of defensive linemen Nazair Jones and Dion Jordan are both in question after they missed Sunday's game with injuries, though Jones is a bigger question mark.
"Naz is still a really big question mark whether or not he's going to make it back," Carroll said of Jones, who injured his ankle in practice Thursday.
Jordan, who missed two games with a stinger, is "a little bit less of a question, but we still have to see him, what he can do. It's all about him returning to full strength. So as much as I was feeling like he was for sure going to be back this week, we're not sure until we get to Wednesday. We'll just have to wait a couple of days to figure that out."
Carroll said that while running back Chris Carson won't return to practice this week, the rookie is continuing to progress and get close to a return from injured reserve.
"He has healed really well," Carroll said. "He's healing, he's out there changing direction and hitting it pretty hard right now. This is a big week for him to prove that he maybe has a chance in the next couple of week. We're not trying to push him too soon, but he's a really well-conditioned guy and he works really hard at it; this is his natural way. So that has carried over to be a great asset in his rehab. He has maxed out the process and he's beating the timeframes, so he looks good."
Cornerback DeShawn Shead, who is on the physically unable to perform list, could return to practice Wednesday, but that decision has not yet been finalized.
"It's really close," Carroll said. "It may happen, it may not, but it's really close. We're talking about it through tomorrow, and we'll see on Wednesday."
3. Frank Clark "was all over the place."
Frank Clark enjoyed one of his best games of the season, recording two sacks, an additional tackle for loss, and a pass defensed. Carroll noted that one reason for Clark's big game was a return to playing more on the right side of the line.
"Terrific performance by Frank, he was all over the place," Carroll said. "You saw him a lot on the right side where he had been earlier in the year. We had flipped him to the left side for a couple of weeks, and he just seems better and quicker and more productive on the right side, that looks to be pretty clear after this game. So it's just a good thing going into the stretch here. He plays so hard, and he's just so fast. His second sack, you can't see it on the TV copy, but the violent change of direction he made to get up and underneath on the pass rush was a phenomenal play, and at a critical time too. He's just getting started. Frank's going to get a lot better. It's fun to watch him grow, and we love the way he plays and the style of his play."
4. Mike Davis provided a spark.
After being promoted off of the practice squad two weeks ago, Mike Davis showed promise in his Seahawks debut, only to leave the game early with a groin injury. But Davis was back Sunday following a one-game absence, and in the starting role, he had one of the best games by a Seahawks running back this season, gaining 64 yards on 16 carries and catching four passes for 37 more yards. Reviewing the film only backed up what those numbers said about Davis' game.
"He looked really good," Carroll said. "Mike plays really aggressive. He demonstrates his quickness and toughness. He's got a nice combination, and the fact that he catches the ball well too gives him a chance to be a well-rounded player. And we haven't had a lot of shots at him showing us his stuff, but we saw enough in preseason, and his preseason stuff has carried over to the few opportunities he has had, and I thought he gave us a spark again. You could see it and feel it. Pretty good."
5. Byron Maxwell was on the wrong end of a couple of big plays, but otherwise "played great."
Yes, Carson Wentz did hit two big throws over Byron Maxwell, both on Philadelphia's only touchdown drive of the game, but those two plays weren't indicative of the cornerback's overall performance. The Eagles' touchdown came on a play on which Maxwell got tangled up with another receiver, causing him to momentarily lose his man, and the 51-yarder that set up that score was the result of Maxwell misjudging a deep pass, a play that's somewhat excusable because Wentz made such an absurd throw while falling down that it would have reasonable to assume the ball couldn't possibly travel as far as it did. Other than those two plays, however, Maxwell did a lot of good things against his former team, including making a game-clinching interception and a couple of physical tackles for stops on third down.
"He has gone right back technique wise and jumped back into the style of play and he is showing really good consistency," Carroll said. "He's a natural right side guy, so he has to adapt a little bit to play on the other side, which he is doing. He had a couple plays—he got rubbed off on the touchdown pass, unfortunately and it put him in a trail position, and Wentz made a great throw on the other one, it's this remarkable throw he makes when he is falling down, and (Maxwell) just misjudged the ball. So those are those two plays, and other than that, he played great. Had a nice pick and had a break up and tackled well and did some really good things, and he's giving us really solid play. What's great about it is that he has been around. He has been through it. When you lose a guy the stature of (Richard Sherman), how do you replace that? Well, this was the guy who was his sidekick for a few years back then, so it has really been a nice addition for us. We have been very fortunate this worked out."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 24-10 victory over the Eagles in Week 13 at CenturyLink Field.