Shutout win has Seattle on cusp of wrapping up NFC
For Pete Carroll, the season has played out the way he has wanted for the Seattle Seahawks.
Instead of potentially facing a month without a meaningful game, the Seahawks (12-2) will get their chance to wrap up the NFC West and home-field advantage in the postseason in Week 16 if they can beat Arizona.
The Seahawks get the chance to clinch everything on Sunday in front of their adoring fans facing the Cardinals and coming off one of the best defensive performances in Carroll's tenure with the Seahawks.
''This could be the best scenario that you have to stay in it and to keep battling,'' Carroll said on Monday. ''I'm more concerned about losing the edge that we've gained that has taken months and months and month to get here and then all of a sudden you kick into a mode where it could be different.''
Carroll was still raving Monday about Seattle's defensive performance in its 23-0 shutout of the New York Giants on Sunday.
Carroll was impressed with the Seahawks' coverage in the secondary that resulted in five interceptions and a defense that for the second time in three weeks held an opponent to fewer than 200 yards of total offense.
Shutouts are rare for the Seahawks. In nearly 600 regular season games, Seattle has blanked its opponents only 18 times. Seven of those have come on the road, and just five in the past 30 seasons.
''There was just no phase of any aspect of what we were doing that wasn't on it,'' Carroll said. ''The pressure was great, the run defense was there, the coverage was excellent, and the playmaking was there too.''
The 181 yards allowed by Seattle was a season best and among the top 20 marks in franchise history. The number could have been even lower if not for a couple of drives by the Giants in the fourth quarter, which had fewer than 100 yards of offense entering the final 15 minutes.
Seattle also intercepted Eli Manning five times, the eighth time in franchise history the Seahawks had five or more interceptions in a game.
The Giants challenged Seattle's cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman deep on fade routes and both came up with interceptions. The Giants also tried to go underneath and found little open space.
Both Sherman and Maxwell finished with two interceptions and Carroll felt the coverage by his linebackers and secondary was among the best this season.
''All the guys contributed, the linebacker and everyone contributed,'' Carroll said. ''The fact that we stayed on top of the deep ball really well again and when they threw it, we were there to challenge the ball as well as played tight coverage underneath. So there was some really cool stuff.''
While the shutout got the attention, the improved play from Seattle's defense has been riding a month-long wave. None of Seattle's past five opponents have gained more than 350 total yards. Three of the five were held to fewer than 250.
Take away Frank Gore's 51-yard run in the final minutes at San Francisco and the Seahawks would have kept the 49ers to fewer than 300 yards as well.
The Seahawks are on the verge of a triple in regards to NFL defenses. Seattle will go into the final two weeks of the regular season leading the league in yards per game allowed (279.5), scoring defense (14.6) and are second in total takeaways two behind Kansas City.
And the play of that defense is why the Seahawks are on the cusp of making the NFC playoffs go through Seattle.
''Here we come this week and there's nothing new, which is a good thing. We're going to make the most of what we got,'' Carroll said. ''I would've wanted it as soon as we could've won it and dealt with that challenge, but right now I think we understand clearly what we're trying to get done here.''
Notes: Carroll said LB K.J. Wright, who had surgery last week on a fracture in his right foot, could be back running in 4 to 5 weeks, leaving open the possibility he could play again this season depending on how far Seattle advances in the postseason. ... The status of CB Brandon Browner (groin) and WR Percy Harvin (hip) is unknown for this week. Carroll hoped to have a better idea of their status on Wednesday.
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