Seattle Seahawks' Jimmy Graham lies on the ground after being injured against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren
November 30, 2015

RENTON, Wash. (AP) In the aftermath of one of their wilder victories in recent seasons, there was no simple balance for the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks are above .500 for the first time all season and in position to get back to the postseason for the fourth straight season after Sunday's 39-30 win over Pittsburgh.

At the same time, the Seahawks spent Monday accepting that tight end Jimmy Graham is done for the season due to a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee and watched Ben Roethlisberger throw for 456 yards passing, the most ever allowed by a Seahawks defense.

Those factors created a mix of opinions on what to make of the Seahawks performance. But it all came back to Seattle being 6-5 with a chance to control its postseason fate over the final five weeks.

There were plenty of standout moments for Seattle, none bigger than Russell Wilson's five touchdown passes and three of those going to Doug Baldwin, including his 80-yard catch-and-run TD with 2:01 left that provided Seattle the final cushion it needed.

For the past two weeks, Wilson has had most of his success while throwing from the pocket.

Scrambling around to buy time and make throws will always be part of his game, but Wilson has been markedly better in the pocket because of improved offensive line play. Wilson has been sacked four times in the past two weeks, a significant drop from the pace he was on earlier in the season.

''We've really tried to feature a fast rhythm and make sure he's got a chance to get the ball out fast to keep the pressure off the guys up front. All of that has happened,'' Carroll said.

But now Wilson won't have Graham as an option for the rest of the season. Carroll insisted on Monday that Graham should be able to be back for the 2016 season, although an exact timeframe for when surgery will take place and the recovery schedule has not been set.

''I don't know about the dates for that, but there is plenty of time for him to get back,'' Carroll said.

Replacing Graham won't be a simple task, even if his receptions and touchdowns didn't approach what they were in New Orleans.

Graham was in for 78.4 percent of Seattle's offensive snaps, the most of any skill player on the Seahawks offense. He had improved as a blocker in the run game and even when the ball wasn't coming his way through the air, Graham's presence was enough of a factor to create matchups to benefit the Seahawks.

A case in point of Graham's influence was Baldwin's first touchdown reception on Sunday. With both players lined up to the right of the formation, Graham ran a post route and drew the defensive back to the middle of the field. That left Baldwin uncovered down the seam for the touchdown reception.

''We've been growing with him and you expect certain guys to do things and we've expected Jimmy to make some plays and do some special things so it will be a little different,'' Carroll said. ''We'll just change.''

Just as Seattle expects Luke Willson to step in for Graham, Carroll is equally confident the Seahawks can fix their problems defensively that led to Roethlisberger's big game through the air.

Pittsburgh nearly abandoned the run all together and attempted just 14 rushes. And Seattle did an adequate job on Martavis Bryant - minus one leaping catch on a deep ball - and Antonio Brown, who was shadowed most of the game by Richard Sherman.

It was the No. 3 receiver - this time Markus Wheaton - that couldn't be stopped by the Seahawks. Whether through scheme or breakdowns, Wheaton had 201 yards receiving and a touchdown and Seattle never made the needed adjustments.

Seattle has allowed more than 400 yards passing four times under Carroll. And in an unexpected statistical quirk, the Seahawks are 4-0 in those games.

''This doesn't seem such a crazy deal to me, just that they played great,'' Carroll said. ''I thought Ben was awesome and his receivers were fantastic. We made some mistakes that gave him some chances that we normally would like to eliminate and we'll get better at.''

NOTES: Seattle signed DT A.J. Francis from the practice squad to take Graham's spot on the 53-man roster. ... Carroll said FB Will Tukuafu and DL Demarcus Dobbs are both going through concussion protocol. ... WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) is expected to practice on Wednesday and should play on Sunday at Minnesota.

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