RENTON, Wash. – No game is bigger than the next in the world of Pete Carroll, but when you’ve lost four of five and are walking the fine line between playoff team and team that’s season is spiraling out of control, it’s hard to overstate the importance of today’s game.
Win and the Seahawks are back at .500 and in as good of shape as any team in the NFC West. Lose at home to the 1-10 Carolina Panthers, however, and the Seahawks are, well, the team that just lost at home to the 1-10 Carolina Panthers. Good luck coming back from that.
“There’s only one game in the universe for us and this is it,” Carroll said. “I think everybody wants to perform really well. … We have to put in a good week to allow us to be comfortable on game day. That’s really what the pressure is right now that we’re feeling. It continues to mount in this league. This is a tremendous race to the finish for so many teams and we happen to be fortunate enough to be in that race and we have to deal with it really well.”
Despite a rough stretch over the past month or so, spirits were high in the locker room this week as the Seahawks talked about turning the corner to the home stretch of the season that potentially still has plenty of good to offer. The players know, however, that they’re not going anywhere playing the way they have over the past five weeks.
“We started out pretty good, we’ve kind of hit some bumps in the road, and we’ve got to just finish strong,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “We’re a little bit beat up, but we’ve got to find a way to just suck it up and power through and do our best here late in the season.”
And to suck it up and do their best late in the season, the Seahawks will have to find a way to get better in the run game on both sides of the ball. Of all the negatives from last weekend’s loss to Kansas City – and there was plenty for the Seahawks not to like – what stood out as the most glaring problem for Seattle was the fact that it was outrushed 270-20.
The run game has been a concern all year. There have been promising games, but overall it has been a struggle. After all but giving up on the run game over the past three games, Seattle ranks last in the NFL in rushing yards per game and yards per carry. While Seattle will continue to throw the ball more often than not, it would prefer to come up with some semblance of balance over the next five weeks.
“In the perfect state, I think 50/50 is the way to go,” said offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense to defend both the run and the pass. When you become one-dimensional, it’s tough. They can sit back and get in a three-point stance as defensive ends and rush the quarterback and sack the quarterback and don’t have any fear of run gaps and all that. You start getting creative blitzes and (cover) two-man, so you’ve got to be balanced.”
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