Seahawks' roll continues with rout of Rams
When Pete Carroll looks back at his second season in charge in Seattle, he can be impressed by a midseason turnaround after the Seahawks discovered a long-absent running game and a youthful defense that improved throughout the season.
And he'll likely lament two plays that could ultimately be what keeps the Seahawks (6-7) from a second straight postseason trip.
Seattle's impressive second-half charge continued on Monday night with a 30-13 rout of St. Louis for the Seahawks' fourth win in the last five games. The surge has brought them back to the fringes of the NFC wild card chase and been a remarkable turnaround from Seattle's 2-6 start.
With three weeks left, Seattle is one of the hottest teams in the league thanks to a young, stingy defense and the continued success of running back Marshawn Lynch, who topped 100 yards for the fifth time in the last six games on Monday night with 115 yards on 23 carries and had his ninth straight game with a touchdown.
''We have some young talent. We have guys that are buying into what our coaches are telling us and the sky's the limit. As long as we can stay healthy, stay focused and just keep working hard, I think we'll be fine,'' Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson said. ''Like you said, we have a lot of talent all around the board and most of them are young guys. We have the right amount of veterans in there to kind of add a good mix to it to make sure we keep those guys straight.''
But even if Seattle manages to win out and gets to 9-7 for the season, it still might be too late for postseason aspirations. And the Seahawks can point to a 12-minute lapse at home in late November when Washington rallied to score the final 16 points in a 23-17 victory.
When Carroll was asked about the loss to Washington, he called it a ''two-play game.'' It's not that simple as Seattle did plenty to give away a 10-point lead in the closing minutes, but Carroll wasn't entirely wrong.
The Seahawks led 17-7 with 12 minutes remaining then gave up a 28-yard touchdown run to Roy Helu and a 50-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Anthony Armstrong on third-and-19 with 6 minutes remaining.
''It wasn't us blowing it. They made their plays on us when they had to and they got a win. So unfortunately that's a huge game to us,'' Carroll said in reference to the Washington loss. ''Think about that game and how important it was. We had this whole thing rolling.''
Seattle trails Detroit and Atlanta by two games for the final two wild card spots. The Seahawks are also one game behind Dallas and Chicago. The Falcons and Cowboys own tiebreakers over Seattle due to head-to-head victories earlier this season.
To even make it interesting, the Seahawks must win out, beginning Sunday at the Bears before returning home to face San Francisco and closing the season at improving Arizona.
Whether or not Seattle can close the year with seven wins in its final eight games, the Seahawks have hit on a winning formula with Lynch. He continued the finest stretch of his career on Monday night while setting a new career high with his ninth rushing touchdown on a 16-yard dash with 2:57 left. Lynch is the leading rusher in the NFL in the last six games with 706 yards rushing - more than 100 yards ahead of Tennessee's Chris Johnson - and is 31 yards shy of his third 1,000-yard season.
Since Week 9, Seattle is second in the NFL with 850 yards rushing, trailing only Denver despite losing three starters on the offensive line to season-ending injuries.
''I think it's just a thing that we're growing,'' Lynch said. ''We've got a lot of young guys up front and I just think that we're coming together.''
Seattle also got a major contribution from undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin, who caught seven passes for 93 yards and a 29-yard touchdown and blocked a punt in the first quarter that Michael Robinson returned 17 yards for a touchdown. Baldwin has become Seattle's leading receiver this season with 45 receptions for 718 yards and three TDs.
''For me, I've got to go out there and not do anything that I wouldn't do normally. Just go out there and be consistent,'' Baldwin said. ''The plays that were given to me, the opportunities I was given, I expect to take full advantage of.''
Follow Tim Booth on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ByTimBooth