With Sunday's win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seahawks wrapped up their seventh playoff berth in nine seasons under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. But even though the Seahawks are in the playoffs regardless of what happens in their regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks will do everything they can to win and head into the playoffs with momentum.
That and other takeaways from Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. The Seahawks are "going for it" when they play the Cardinals.
While the Seahawks know they're in the playoffs, and know they'll be on the road as a wild card team, they do still have seeding to play for—a win secures them the No. 5 seed a trip to Dallas, while a loss combined with a Minnesota win would make Seattle the No. 6 seed and send them to Chicago. With that in mind, and even more importantly, with the Seahawks wanting to keep up the level of play that has led to them winning five of six, Carroll has no intention of shutting things down and resting a bunch of players this week.
"We're going for it," Carroll said. "We've got a big game. We're not changing anything. We're going to do like we do and go for it. I'm not sure what it means, where we play or whatever, but it doesn't matter. We have to keep doing what we're doing to keep the momentum going and the precision that it takes to keep sharp and all of that. There's no other circumstance but to take it like a championship (opportunity) and go for it."
Asked specifically about resting starters, Carroll added, "We don't do that. Maybe the game allows you to make some decisions or something during the game that would be a little bit different. But I've done that in the past and I don't like that at all. I don't like doing it, I think it messes with us. Just go play."
2. Russell Wilson "did it again when we needed it most."
Russell Wilson was already having one of the best seasons of his career prior to Sunday's game, but in out-dueling MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes, Wilson once again showed how valuable he is to the Seahawks. Wilson's play, along with a number of huge plays by his pass-catchers, allowed him to complete 18 of 29 passes for 271 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 127.2 passer rating. Sunday's win marked the fifth time this season that Wilson has thrown for three or more touchdowns without an interception. Wilson also rushed for 57 yards on eight carries.
"All of the things that he does really well, he did again," Carroll said. "He ran the ball really well, he avoided the rush really well, he made some great checks like he has been doing, he had some spectacular throws in situations that were just impeccable placement of the ball, and then the guys made the plays on it. It's fantastic stuff, but that's what he's been doing and he's really noted for being able to throw the deep ball. He's got great numbers there. He did it again when we needed it most, which was great. It's what you look for in the great players and he was able to do it."
3. Leading the NFL in turnover differential is "as good as it gets."
Few stats in football are more important that turnover differential, which is why Carroll has long preached an "it's all about the ball" philosophy. So it comes as no surprise that Carroll is thrilled to see his team leading the NFL in that stat at plus-14 following Sunday's game in which they had two takeaways, one of which set up a touchdown, while not turning the ball over.
"Sweet," Carroll said. "There's nothing better than that. That's as good as it gets for us. That's what spells your chance for success and we couldn't be more committed to that thought. That's exactly where we want to be and we've got another week to see if we can hold that, just a little sidebar kind of emphasis. We'd love to wind up on top of the league in that area, and the number one aspect of that is we've gone eight games without turning the ball over. I mean, that's a fantastic number. I don't know how that compares to other teams, but that's an incredible number and everybody contributes to that. Russ has a huge part in that and he's great at not giving them the football, but everybody contributes. We watch video every week of our technique versus what's going on around the league, and you saw the ball that got punched out and how loose that ball was being handled. That was a tremendous disciplined attempt by Justin Coleman to take a shot when the opportunity arose when the guy was vulnerable. Those aspects of the coach are so crucial to us and we take such great pride that it's exactly where we'd like to be."
4. The Seahawks had to give up some yards to limit huge plays.
The Chiefs came into the game leading the NFL in scoring and total yards, and a huge part of their success has been their ability to make big plays in the passing game. With that in mind, the Seahawks went into the game with a game plan that they knew would allow the Chiefs to gain some yards, particularly on the ground, as a tradeoff for taking away those big passing plays.
For the most part, the plan worked well, with the Seahawks holding the Chiefs to just 10 points in the first half and 17 through three quarters. Mahomes made some big plays and incredible throws, particularly in the second half, but he was just 6 for 13 for 83 yards in the first half.
"There was a little rope-a-dope going on in there," Carroll said. "We had to give up some stuff to get some stuff, and we wanted to make sure and stay on top and not let them be explosive in the throwing game. To do that, we had to deploy a lot of the run numbers a little bit, more than we normally do. Sometimes, you've just got to make that choice and I thought Kenny (Norton Jr.) did a really good job with the defensive staff of figuring that out. The numbers at halftime were like, he was like six for (13) or whatever the heck it was. That was an accomplishment in itself, just that there wasn't the big explosions and the big field changes that they've been getting. That was a nice job and it was hard to hold them down because (Mahomes) got going in the second half. He and Russ (Wilson) really picked up in the second half but that's not the way we like to play it but we had to take it in this one."
5. The Seahawks turned things around drastically when it comes to penalties.
The Seahawks lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15 in large part because they were flagged for 14 penalties, which were enforced for a franchise record 148 yards. Knowing they couldn't afford that many mistakes against a team as good as Kansas City, the Seahawks were able to turn things around in a big way, drawing just three flags for 20 yards.
"I don't know how that happens," Carroll said. "It was just an avalanche of penalties a week ago and this week, we were on it. The guys did a great job. Our own players were really talking about it in the locker room at San Francisco that we have to adapt and we just stayed on that theme and the guys did a really good job. The one hold that we had was kind of a circumstance thing. We did a nice job."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 of the 2018 NFL season.