Seahawks get some stress relief after victory
RENTON, Wash. (AP) For a moment, the stress that enveloped the Seattle Seahawks the past few weeks eased up.
That doesn't mean the problems faced by the Super Bowl champs are resolved.
The Seahawks' 13-9 win over Carolina on Sunday was vitally important. It snapped a two-game losing streak and with upcoming home games against struggling Oakland and the New York Giants, it made getting to 6-3 appear likely in a division where Arizona already holds a two-game lead.
But coach Pete Carroll was still answering questions Monday about division in the locker room, this time after reports surfaced over the weekend of a strained relationship with running back Marshawn Lynch. Carroll appeared annoyed to be dealing with more inquires about locker room dynamics.
''I have nothing to say about that because there is nothing to that,'' Carroll said. ''I have no idea where that came from. We have nothing to say about that. At this point, I don't think it behooves us to try and respond to all these things in the locker room. Our players have told you how they feel. Our coaches have told you how we feel about it. And we're in a really good place right now. It's just not worth it. There is nothing to that at all.''
Stories about locker room issues are just another item the Seahawks have been dealing with on top of trying to get the on-field product back into form. Carroll said he took time to address the reports both with the team as a whole and individually.
''We did talk about it a bit. More than anything talked to guys individually and worked the plane, and the locker room and chow hall and just to make sure everyone feels comfortable,'' Carroll said. ''And everybody has expressed if they've had any concerns. ... They're fine. Our locker room is solid, they're together, they're really determined. I don't think you can get any other thought than that and they're surprised as we are as coaches that you guys have these questions about it. But we understand. It's part of it.''
On the field, Seattle needed another fourth-quarter rally Sunday from Russell Wilson to avoid its first three-game losing streak since the middle of the 2011 season.
Seattle's recent swoon isn't that different from a similar slump in the middle of last season. The difference? The Seahawks were able to pull out wins last season at St. Louis and at home against Tampa Bay. This time, losses to Dallas and at St. Louis, coupled with the surprising trade of Percy Harvin, led to the issues becoming exposed.
Another stellar moment from Wilson on Sunday helped quiet things down some. Having blown two chances earlier to take the lead thanks to turnovers, Wilson led Seattle 80 yards and found Luke Willson on a 23-yard TD pass with 47 seconds left.
''It was carried out very similar as we've seen other drives in that situation,'' Carroll said.
Other reasons the Seahawks have looked less than Super Bowl worthy of late:
INJURIES: For the second straight week, Seattle played without four key starters. Cornerback Byron Maxwell, center Max Unger, linebacker Bobby Wagner and tight end Zach Miller were all out against the Panthers. Carroll said Maxwell and Unger have a chance of playing this week against Oakland. Wagner (toe) and Miller (ankle) were both seen by a specialist but neither has a firm timeline for his return.
SLOW STARTS: Seattle fell behind St. Louis 21-3 and should have trailed Carolina more than 6-0. In their first loss this season, the Seahawks fell behind San Diego 20-7. While Carroll preaches that how you finish is the most important aspect, getting off to better starts is necessary.
PASS RUSH: Seattle finally got to the quarterback on Sunday, sacking Cam Newton three times, recording five quarterback hits and throwing off Newton's timing on a number of plays. Seattle used a mix of base defense and blitzing linebackers to create problems for Newton. Bruce Irvin was able to sack Newton twice on Carolina's final possession with the Seahawks bringing just four.
''The four-man stuff was good. The pressure stuff worked well and it gave us a better rhythm and a better feel in the game,'' Carroll said. ''I really like the way that it went and when it came right down to it in the last drive, when we needed to rush four guys, the guys came roaring off the football.''
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