Let’s hope the Seahawks have turned the corner on their midseason swoon

So what exactly did we see last weekend when the Seahawks used a big second half to roll over the Carolina Panthers?

Were we witnessing a much-needed turnaround for a team that had lost four of its last five, all by double-digit margins? Did we see a team regain the form that led to a 4-2 start? Or was it simply the case of a mediocre team beating up on the league’s worst team?

If it was the former, if the Seahawks did indeed look within themselves at halftime and discover what it takes to play to their potential, then this should be an interesting final quarter to the season. Heck, even if the Seahawks are just a middle-of-the road team that beats bad teams and loses to good ones, that might be enough to win the NFC West.

However, if the Seahawks really want to be a playoff team, and perhaps be a team that wins a playoff game, they’ll need to spend the next four weeks proving that this past weekend was indeed a sign that the worst is behind them.

“We’ve had a tough month going into this,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s taken a toll on us somewhat and I don’t think I did a good enough job of keeping ahead of that. I go all the way back to the Raiders game. I go back to that. That was probably the time when our problems started. …

“It’s time for us to show the consistency that makes us worthy of having a good football season. That’s there for us now. It’s exciting to be in the position. Coaches, players, everybody’s got to come meet the challenge and get it done. So it’s really a fun time for us.”

Despite that stretch of four blowout losses in five weeks, the Seahawks have everything to play for as they enter the home stretch of their first season under Carroll. A win at San Francisco would turn the NFC West into a two-team race with St. Louis, and its very likely that the division could come down to the final game of the season when the Rams come to Seattle.

At this point, however, being in contention won’t mean much of the Seahawks can’t build off last weekend’s victory and continue to play at the level they did in the final two quarters against Carolina.

“In order to stay in the race, you have to win,” safety Lawyer Milloy said. “You don’t win, you don’t have a shot. Ultimately, we get (the Rams) at our place and it’ll mean something. That’s when it gets fun.”

For the better part of the first half on Sunday, fun was the last emotion anyone would associate with the Seahawks. Seattle, it appeared, was on its way to losing at home to a one-win team; on its way to blowing a chance to go from 5-11 last year to a playoff team in 2010. When the season looked just about lost, however, the Seahawks flipped the switch, underwent what Carroll described as an attitude adjustment, and did to the Panthers what any team with playoff aspirations should. The win, no matter the opponent, created a noticeable uptick in confidence in the Seahawks locker room.

“We needed this,” cornerback Roy Lewis said. “We really did need this as far as a confidence builder to get back going.”

And no matter whom it was against, the Seahawks contend that Sunday’s turnaround can be a turning point in the season.

“That means that that play is in us, that’s there for us to tap into,” Carroll said. “It’s something that I’ve been saying to them. I said last week a couple times: ‘I think you guys are better than you think you are.’ They showed it. … We’ve got to take it with us and make sure we take it to San Francisco.”

As Carroll points out, building off the win is the biggest challenge moving forward. For a half, the Seahawks found a way to drastically improve their play and Carroll now needs to get them to do it for four more games.

It’s one thing to right the ship for two quarters against a bad team, it’s another to win on the road this week against a desperate team in San Francisco. Or beat Atlanta, perhaps the league’s best team, in two weeks. Or win at Tampa Bay. Or defeat the Rams with everything at stake.

To be fair, it’s not entirely accurate to say the Seahawks only beat bad teams and lose to good ones. San Diego, despite a loss last weekend, is very much a playoff contender, and as the season goes on the win at Chicago looks more and more impressive.

The san Diego and Chicago victories occurred before the second-half swoon, however, which is why the Seahawks now need to show that Sunday’s second half was in fact the sign of a team turning a corner and not a case of a mediocre team bullying a bad one. For Carroll, the task at hand is to convince his team that they are in fact as good as he thinks they are.

“They have to be convinced,” he said. “That’s my job. I have to convince these guys of what they are capable of doing until they own it. … Sometimes it’s fleeting, so hopefully we can hang on to that through hard work and believing in what we’re doing. And it’s not to say that we haven’t played some tough teams that have made it hard on us. I don’t think it’s all one way but this is a very interesting time for us as we come to the finish of the season. It’s going to be really cool to see what happens.”

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog

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