RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks had barely cut the tape off their ankles Sunday afternoon before coach Pete Carroll had started preparing them for this weekend’s crucial regular-season finale against St. Louis.
Carroll calls every week a championship opportunity, and this game will be exactly that, a game that will give them the NFC West division title or saddle them with profound disappointment over chances that slipped away.
So Carroll made the rounds in the CenturyLink Field locker room after the 17-10 upset loss to Arizona. He wasn’t dealing yet with strategy or technique, or specific coaching points. He was coaching emotion and maturity, and getting in the ears of the players who most need to establish a tone of urgency for the Seahawks this week.
“(I was) calling for leadership,” Carroll said Monday during his news conference at team headquarters. “Calling for guys to step up that have been the leaders of this team to understand what transition we had to start last night to get ready for this week.”
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The game had gone badly because of faulty offense and untimely penalties, but there wasn’t time to linger on the postmortem.
“As soon as we get in that locker room, that thing is already done,” Carroll said. “We have to put it in the proper spot, just like you had to put the shutout over the Giants in the proper spot (the previous week) and come back and not be too full of yourself. You have to get focused and get right.”
He bounced from cubicle to cubicle; he talked to fullback and veteran team leader Michael Robinson, and he talked to Robert Turbin, who lost a fumble on a kickoff return and surely could benefit from some reassuring.
Carroll also talked to starting quarterback Russell Wilson, who was uncharacteristically inefficient against the Cardinals.
He talked to him after the game and texted him throughout the evening. When Carroll gave up on his sleepless night and showed up at team headquarters at 4:45 a.m., Wilson was already there.
They watched game film together in the quiet predawn, sorting through the issues and possibilities — trying, as Carroll said, “to make sense out of it.”
They watched the passes gone awry and decisions that might have led to a better outcome. They saw the paltry two third-down conversions on 13 tries. Because of that failure, Seattle only had 51 offensive snaps — 19 fewer than Arizona.
Those seven three-and-out possessions caused the offensive video to end all too quickly, as the Seahawks possessed the ball for almost 23 minutes to the Cardinals’ 37-plus.
The conclusion? “We didn’t like the way it went in any way,” Carroll said.
He wanted the leaders to “carry the message” this week. That performance would not be acceptable this week. He said there were many to whom he needn’t say a word. Others got pats on the back, re-enforcement of a job well-done.
“Our expectations are very high; our standards are very high,” Carroll said. “We’re disappointed when we don’t meet up to that. That was an opportunity that got away, that we wanted to take home with us, and we didn’t get it done.”
But mostly the rounds on Sunday night and the messages of Monday morning were to close the door on the loss and start getting right for the Rams.
“We had to turn our focus immediately in the locker room after that game,” he said. “We started it and hopefully picked up on it again (Monday), and (that) sets us on course to have a really good week of preparation and a good week to finish this thing off and go get done what we want to get done.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org