RENTON, Wash. (AP) Less than six feet was all the Seattle Seahawks needed to change the tenor of where they stood compared to the rest of the NFC.
Instead, the Seahawks were turned away on three different fourth-down attempts on Sunday against Kansas City and now sit three games behind division and conference leading Arizona with six games to play.
It's not a comfortable spot for the defending Super Bowl champions even with two games remaining against the Cardinals, the first coming this Sunday at home. Seattle's remaining opponents have the highest combined winning percentage that any team will face over the final six weeks of the season.
So while Seattle coach Pete Carroll didn't view this week as a must-win, the importance of the week wasn't lost on the Seahawks coach.
''It's a one-game shot right now. We have to go get Arizona. These guys are flying high and we have to see if we can find a way to stop them and score on these guys and then we'll take it to the next one,'' Carroll said on Monday. ''I'm really excited about the way this thing sets up and I think most people should be with all of the drama still out there about the division. I don't know if everybody's schedule worked out this way but we're as loaded as you can get down the stretch and it'll be exciting for everyone.''
Seattle had its chances to post its most impressive road victory of the season on Sunday in Kansas City and control an opportunity to catch Arizona in the final weeks. The Seahawks outgained the Chiefs by nearly 100 yards. Seattle held a nearly 12 minute advantage in time of possession. The Seahawks gained more first downs, had more rushing yards and forced two turnovers. In the past, since Carroll arrived, that's all added up to a winning recipe.
But twice Seattle failed on fourth-down attempts in the fourth quarter in Kansas City territory. The first, on fourth-and-goal at the 2, was the most damaging when Russell Wilson threw incomplete for Doug Baldwin. A few minutes later, Marshawn Lynch was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Chiefs' 36 with 3:38 remaining.
Seattle had one final drive end with less than 2 minutes left when Wilson's fourth-down pass for Paul Richardson fell incomplete.
''We had two good shots to win the football game with great field position and unfortunately they did a great job to keep us out of the end zone,'' Carroll said.
Even before the failed fourth-down attempts, Seattle struggled trying to slow down Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs' run game. Charles' 159 yards rushing were the most by a running back against the Seahawks since Adrian Peterson rushed for 182 yards in 2012.
''You can tell that they weren't out to throw the ball all over the field, they wanted to see if they could run it,'' Carroll said.
As has been the case for most of the season, Seattle picked up another costly injury coming out of Sunday's loss and just as the Seahawks appeared to be getting healthier. Center Max Unger will likely be out for at least three or four weeks depending on how quickly he responds from a high-ankle sprain and a twisted knee suffered in the fourth quarter.
Seattle already placed backup center Stephen Schilling on injured reserve leaving Patrick Lewis as the lone healthy center. Carroll hinted that a roster move could be on the horizon to add another center - possibly former Seattle center Lemuel Jeanpierre, who is currently a free agent.
''He's been out there for some time; we know he's out there. ... Everybody is an option,'' Carroll said.
NOTES: Seattle LB Bobby Wagner (toe) has been out since getting hurt in Week 6 vs. Dallas could practice later this week and have a chance to play against Arizona. ... G James Carpenter (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (glute) both could return this week as well.
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