When Pete Carroll had Steve Sarkisian as his offensive coordinator at USC about a half-dozen years ago Carroll's one-word edict for their USC Trojans was "finish."
When Carroll came to coach the Seahawks in 2010 and Sarkisian came to coach the University of Washington the year before both brought that mantra with them to Seattle.
The word "FINISH!" -- with the exclamation points -- was everywhere at the Seahawks' headquarters in Renton and UW's facilities on Montlake. On signs in the weight rooms and locker rooms. In meeting rooms. On the fronts of T-shirts the players wore. Even on the schedules they received for road trips.
Four years later Carroll's Seahawks have indeed internalized "FINISH!"
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When they were 6-4 after the loss in mid-November at Kansas City, the defending Super Bowl champions talked about finishing the final six games of the regular season that included five division games. Carroll made the Seahawks not see it so much as a tough task as a huge, potentially rewarding opportunity to determine their season themselves.
"Everything is out there for us," Carroll said then.
Opportunity became reality over the last six games. They won them all. Seattle is now 12-2 in December the last three seasons.
Yesterday they trailed St. Louis 6-0 at halftime -- then scored all 20 of the game's second-half points to end the regular season. They finished it 12-4, finished off another NFC West title, their third in five seasons. They finished as the top seed for the upcoming NFC playoffs, which begin this weekend with falling Arizona at Carolina, Detroit at Dallas -- and Seattle with the weekend off waiting to host the lowest remaining seed from those games on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 5:15 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s not just finishing the game today, which was fantastic, to win 20-0 in the second half, that was fitting. But to finish the season, and be really strong here in December again, that’s something we take great pride in," Carroll said. "Finishing is a big deal to us. Now we have a chance to get into the playoffs and see if we can do something with that as well. There’s no doubt in my mind that this team will be ready to go. They’ll be so cranked and ready to play their best football. If somebody can get us, they’re going to have to play pretty good ball.
"We are in the finish mode right now. That’s when I hope we continue to be at our best. We’ll see if we can pull it off.”
--Here is my game story in today's News Tribune, leading with Carroll saying "All you guys kept talking about how you can’t do this and you can’t get to this point again. You can. You can do it.
“We just did it.”
--TNT columnist Dave Boling saves us the next three weeks and says, "Book it" -- home field means the Seahawks are going back to the Super Bowl.
--My Seahawks Notebook story starts with the "crazy" good interception defensive tackle Jordan Hill made to change yesterday's game.
--TNT columnist John McGrath writes that Bud Grant 30 years ago taught Carroll the value of having guys who could catch the ball at every position on defense.
--Colleague Don Ruiz writes how rookie wide receivers Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood got the Seahawks' offense going when it need to go against the Rams.
--Our weekly day-after chat begins here on the blog at 3 p.m. Carroll's press conference is at 4 p.m.