The Seahawks really need this to be a No-Loss November.
Coach Pete Carroll likes to affix themes and names to days so that his Seahawks are conditioned to ritualistic reminders on a weekly basis. Competition Wednesday, Turnover Thursday, etc.
With the Seahawks at 4-4, November is the month that can make the season, and Sunday’s game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals is the most critical of this five-Sunday month.
The Hawks have gone 7-1 in November games the past two seasons, and already have racked up a win (at Dallas) and enjoyed a bye last Sunday. They now have three straight home games this month.
So, it’s all set up for them. But how have they gone about pulling it together in the second halves of seasons?
Carroll was asked that after Monday’s practice.
“We’ve taken pride in being a really good finishing team, that’s why it was so hard to have to live with the games that happened in the early part of the year,” he said, referencing blown leads in all four of their losses.
Some of those less savory memories of the first two months, he said, were going to be left behind after hitting the midpoint.
The goal now is “… playing well at the end, outlasting your opponent, doing things right longer than they can. That’s always been the way we’ve gone about it.”
It has to be more than just saying, OK, it’s time to get with it. From a practical standpoint, Carroll sees the first halves of season as a training ground for the younger players.
“I tend to think we play a lot of young guys extensively early, and they can fit in, and (then) from the mid-season point on, they’re regulars.”
From here on out, he envisions receiver/returner Tyler Lockett and defensive end Frank Clark having more of an impact, and also helping give the older veterans some time on the sidelines to stay fresher as the season wears on.
“I’d like to think the conditioning factor has always been in our favor and we finish fast and strong; hopefully we can do that again,” Carroll said. “We’re very healthy this time of year and we’ll try to take advantage of that.”
They’ll need all of that this week, because the team that wins this one is driving the bus.
Even though a Seahawks win would still leave them a game behind in the standings, they’d have immense psychological advantage of taking the first head-to-head meeting.
And it would be foolish to overlook a third challenger, St. Louis, which already has wins over every divisional opponent.
Certainly, no excuses remain valid for the Seahawks. Maybe No-Excuse November would be a better title.
You’ll remember after the first two losses this season, it was easy for supporters to say, well, we didn’t have safety Kam Chancellor (a hold-out).
And after narrow losses to Cincinnati and Carolina, it was: “We had some miscommunications on coverages. You know, new defensive coordinator.”
But halfway through the season, the only excuse for a loss is that the other team is better.
Sunday, they find out a lot. Seattle faces a team whose aggressive defense has been problematic at times, and an offense that is the best the Cardinals have had in years.
Quarterback Carson Palmer leads the NFL in yards per pass attempt (9.18) and is second only to Tom Brady in touchdown passes, with 20.
Palmer has been sacked just 11 times — 20 fewer than Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
With a running game to go with Palmer, the Cardinals are averaging 32.9 points a game — 12 points more than the Seahawks’ average.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hasn’t been bashful in making it clear he’s trying to build his team into the new Seahawks, to take over their position of divisional dominance.
Well, it’s November. It all gets serious now, and both teams get the chance to prove it all on the field at CenturyLink on Sunday.