By John Boyle Herald Columnist
RENTON — Pete Carroll couldn’t sleep very well following his team’s first home loss in two years, so Seattle’s head coach ended up arriving at the Seahawks’ practice facility rather early Monday morning.
And of course, Russell Wilson beat his coach to the office, even at an absurdly early hour.
“Well, he was in early,” Carroll said when asked how his quarterback was doing after one of the worst games of his career. “He beat me here. I saw him about 4:45, so he was in early. He couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t sleep, so we found ourselves sitting in a room watching film together really early this morning.”
Yet even as Carroll and Wilson relived Seattle’s 17-10 loss to the Cardinals, they were already well into the process of moving on to this week’s regular-season finale against St. Louis. The Seahawks know the stakes couldn’t be higher this week — win and the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle; lose and they could end up a wild-card team if they don’t get help from Arizona, which hosts San Francisco in Week 17.
That’s why Carroll broke from his usual postgame routine following Sunday’s loss, returning to the locker room following his press conference to talk to some players, and some of his leaders in particular. He sat in a locker next to Earl Thomas and chatted with his free safety a bit, then made his way over to receiver Doug Baldwin’s locker. Eventually Carroll ended up talking with his quarterback, who he would also text back-and-forth with late into the night, then see again long before the sun came up the next morning.
“I’m calling on leadership,” Carroll said of his postgame trip to the locker room. “Calling on guys to step up who have been the leaders on this team to understand what transition we had to start last night to get ready for this week. As soon we’re in that locker room, that thing’s (Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals) already done and you have to put it in the proper spot, just like you had to put the shutout against the Giants in the proper spot and come back and not be too full of yourself. I wanted to make sure the guys had the right thought in mind and that they would carry the right message and they would understand. With so much frustration coming off the field, it’s a lot to ask guys to turn, but we did.”
When you hear Carroll talk about his quarterback getting to work at 4:30 in the morning, when you hear Baldwin say, “We’ll pull a positive out of this and realize that we’re not invincible at home, and we need to get back to that attention to detail on certain things. We’ll get better for it,” it’s hard to imagine that the Seahawks won’t respond well to just their third loss of the season.
The Seahawks had a chance to wrap everything up against Arizona, but couldn’t get the job done against a very good Cardinals defense. The process of getting over that loss began in the locker room only a few minutes after the game ended and continued with a pre-dawn film session. And if Seattle’s recent history is any indication — the Seahawks have lost consecutive games only once in the past two seasons, and those were back-to-back road games — will end with a strong bounce-back performance against the Rams.
“Our expectations are very high and our standards are very high, and we’re disappointed when we don’t meet up to that, and that was an opportunity that got away,” Carroll said. “We come in off a game we’re not real happy about. We don’t like the way it went in any way. There are a lot of areas we can improve on and play better. … It takes us to a championship weekend coming up to the last week of the season and it couldn’t get more exciting. We had to turn our focus immediately in the locker room after that game, and we started it and hopefully picked up on it again today to set us on course to have a really good week of preparation and a good week to finish this thing off and go get what we want to get done.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.