The Seahawks are back in town after a fourth straight victory and second in a row on the road, and understandably they feel pretty good about the way they are playing following a 35-6 win in Baltimore.
During his weekly radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Carroll called the victory over Ravens, "A really good extension of what we've been doing… We really protected beautifully in the game, and Russell (Wilson) had the ball just flying out of his hands. Guys were getting open and making their plays. That's what really jumped out on me. Also the running game on defense; they couldn't run it at all. That's a number of weeks we put back-to-back there. It shows kind of the formula how you like to play, make a team one-dimensional."
Asked about the mood of the team on a return flight from the east coast, Carroll noted it's relatively quiet because players are tired, but added, "We're flying a little bit higher than our elevation. We're up there and we're having a blast. What's really fun to see is buzz in the locker room, the buzz in the meeting rooms and at practice. We have a way about us that, when it's on, it's really fun and special to be around, so we're having a good time and we'd like to keep it going."
Carroll was a little bit higher than his players after the game Sunday, however, for pragmatic reasons, not because he was so excited about the result, which leads to five things we learned from Monday's appearance on the Brock and Salk Show.
1. There was a practical reason for Carroll to go for a postgame climb.
Carroll delivered a postgame speech to his team standing on top of lockers in the visitor's locker room and M&T Bank Stadium, a moment that was captured by Seahawks photographer Rod Mar that quickly circulated on social media Sunday afternoon.
Carroll joked that "it was just that moment of feeling really good, then all of a sudden, there I was." But in reality, he was up there because the Ravens, like a lot of teams in the NFL, have a visitor's locker room that is divided, meaning it's impossible to talk to the entire team at once. Well, impossible if you're not willing to stand on the lockers.
"The locker room was divided so you couldn't see all the fellas," Carroll said.
2. Numbers that Carroll equates with success.
When Carroll was asked about what statistics he focuses on when evaluating how his team is playing, he listed a few that you might expect—turnover ratio, third-down conversion, number of missed tackles (single digits in a game is good, five or fewer is really good)—but one that's less commonly discussed, though Carroll mentioned it once earlier this year, is the total number of pass completions and rushes.
"When our rushes and our completions up there to 50 or more, that's something that's really indicative of winning as well," he said.
Carroll said earlier this season that he got that stat from legendary coach Vince Lombardi, and indeed it has proven to be an accurate indicator of success in 10 of Seattle's 13 games this season, and been very close in two other games. The only exceptions to that rule this season were the opener at St. Louis, in which Seattle combined for 64 rushes and pass completions in a loss, and wins over Chicago and Pittsburgh, when the totals were 49 and 48, respectively.
3. The passing game is in rhythm.
Asked about the recent success of Russell Wilson and the entire passing game, Carroll kept going back to rhythm, noting Wilson has regularly been getting the ball out of his hands in 2.2 seconds or less.
"It's the rhythm of getting the ball out, and the confidence that guys are getting open," he said. "We were so on-time the last few weeks. That's the best of our game, I think."
Carroll said the Seahawks were "really sharp on third down," going 8 for 12 on third down, and said, "That goes back to the rhythm… getting the ball out helps the guys up front."
Carroll also praised Wilson's ability to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, both in pass protection and in the running game.
"Yesterday in particular, there were a number of plays that Russell had to adjust in the running game and the protection stuff, and when you add it all up, it was a really good game for Russell in that regard," Carroll said, noting the third touchdown to Doug Baldwin came after a pre-snap adjustment. "... It takes all of that for him to be hitting it the way he has been hitting it."
Yet as big a day as Wilson and the passing game had in Baltimore, Carroll scoffed that the idea that his team was a "passing juggernaut" that has become a run-first team.
"I'm not going to say it because it isn't true," he said.
And indeed, even on a day when Wilson was again on fire, throwing five touchdowns without an interception, the Seahawks still ran the ball 36 times while attempting 33 passes. During Wilson's four-game run of throwing the ball as well as he has in his career, the Seahawks also had more runs than pass attempts last week at Minnesota (36 to 28), against San Francisco (44 to 29) and remained balanced (30 pass attempts and 27 rushes) even in a shootout against Pittsburgh.
4. Marshawn Lynch's status.
With Thomas Rawls out for the season because of an ankle injury, there is more focus than ever on the status of Marshawn Lynch, who is recovering from abdominal surgery.
Here's what Carroll said on Lynch: "We don't know how far along he can get and how fast he can do that, so we'll see… He can (get back this season), he's fixed, so it's a matter of getting back in shape and being able to run and do all the crazy stuff that he does. We don't know how long that's going to take; it may be a couple of weeks, we don't know."
Carroll was also asked about the notion that Lynch's absence has somehow helped the offense, an idea he quickly dismissed.
"I really think that's a waste of energy, that's a waste of conversation," he said. "That's just not true at all. He fits right into our run game and our pass game; to think his absence has made us better, that's not the case at all. He's a terrific football player who can do all kinds of stuff. He has had a hard time getting right this season, he has not been totally fit the whole time, so we haven't seen him at his best, but it has nothing to do with the style or something like that."
5. Ahtyba Rubin "has been instrumental" to the defense.
The Seahawks have held four straight opponents under 60 rushing yards, and while that has been a collective effort, one player in particular who has stood out to Carroll is defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin. While Brandon Mebane has been a steady presence at one defensive tackle spot during Carroll's tenure, they have had several different players start next to Mebane, and Carroll said Rubin might be the best one yet.
"He is really solid," Carroll said. "He is as tough as you get, you can't move the dude, and he pursues the football really well. I think he has been the most effective guy playing 3-technique that we've had, the most consistent. He just won't budge. The harder it gets, the tougher he gets and the more he (isn't) going to move anywhere. That position in our defense—we play a lot of over defenses, he's right on the tight end side a lot—there's a lot of plays that go right at him, and he gets doubled a bunch and he's fantastic at doing that. So he has been instrumental."
Seahawks scored 29 or more points for the fourth-straight week, keeping the Ravens out of the endzone in a 35-6 win in Week 14.