RENTON — Pete Carroll started Monday by acknowledging how fortunate the Seattle Seahawks were to get out of Carolina with a victory, knowing that a year ago that same performance would have likely led to a loss.
Consider it another step in the growth of Carroll’s team that lost games on the road last season just like Sunday’s 12-7 win over Carolina.
“As it came down to the fourth quarter we needed to make some things happen and we were able to do that at the crucial time and critical areas,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks were able to find plenty of mistakes when they looked back at the victory, highlighted by a running game that managed only 70 yards and struggling to give Russell Wilson time in the pocket early in the game.
But Wilson and Seattle’s offensive line made adjustments to keep the quarterback clean and that led to Wilson’s best regular season passing game — in terms of yards — in his young career. Seattle also closed the game with the ball, running the final 5:25 off the clock and never allowing Carolina a final chance after DeAngelo Williams’ fumble at the Seattle 8.
“The guys executed really well. We had to block well, we had to pick up the pressure, we had to run and pass the ball to get through that sequence to run the clock out,” Carroll said. “We take a lot of pride in the way we finish stuff and that’s the perfect illustration of finishing a football game.”
Wilson started the game 1 of 5 passing and closed by hitting 24 of his final 27 throws. The 320 yards passing marked the first time Wilson eclipsed the 300-yard mark in the regular season and is second only to his 385 yards passing in the Seahawks’ playoff loss at Atlanta last January.
Seattle needed Wilson to be outstanding in the pass game because of a running attack that never found success until the closing drive.
Marshawn Lynch was held to 43 yards on 17 carries with a long run of 14 yards that was Seattle’s final positive-yardage play before kneeling down three times to close out the game. Lynch’s backup, Robert Turbin, had only three carries for 17 yards, which included a 15-yard run. Wilson ran five times for 7 yards.
Carroll took partial responsibility for the problems in the run game.
“We just didn’t get it done the way we like. I contributed to that so I’ve got to make sure I help out and do the right things to make sure we get on track with what is really important to us,” Carroll said. “We didn’t zero in early enough where we could make the adjustments that we normally make. It just took us a while. At the end of the game we were able to run the ball enough to make the drives that we needed and things worked out, it just took longer than needed.”
The Seahawks victory could be coupled with good injury news.
Defensive end Cliff Avril has a “good possibility” of playing on Sunday night against San Francisco should he not have any setbacks in practice this week. Avril has been slowed by a hamstring injury and was close to being able to play against Carolina but the Seahawks opted to hold him out.
Seattle’s not quite as optimistic about starting cornerback Brandon Browner, who also missed the Carolina game with a hamstring injury. Carroll said Browner would go through running drills on Wednesday and the earliest he would practice would be Thursday.
Defensive end Chris Clemons is also expected to practice this week, although he would be unlikely to play against the 49ers. Clemons has not gone through any contact drills in his recovery from major knee surgery.
“We just need to get him through the practice routine and see if he can handle it, which we think he can. He looks great. But he hasn’t done that yet,” Carroll said. “He’ll be working against other guys and pushing and shoving and all of that in a limited fashion and we’ll just take it one day at a time and see how he progresses.”