Carroll could barely contain his exuberance about the Seahawks defense as it leaped to the top of the NFL stats with the soul-crushing of the Giants.
Ever the coach of the defense, Pete Carroll still had his figurative tail wagging Monday over shutting out the Giants in New York, one of two cities where he lost NFL jobs. He would never claim that was any part of his excitement. When he’s coaching a Seahawks team with the NFL’s best record (12-2), he can say anything he wants.
But there was no hiding his exuberance, especially on his weekly radio gig on ESPN 710.
“All across the the board, we played really hard,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for: All in.
“They didn’t have a chance against us yesterday.”
That’s about as blunt as a victorious NFL coach will get. Speaking of blunt, New York coach Tom Coughlin called his offense “pathetic.”
Both were true: The Giants, with nothing to play for, collapsed under Seahawks’ relentlessness.
Later at his Monday press briefing, Carroll was pleased to elaborate on what is going on with the defense, particularly after the previous Sunday in San Francisco when the 49ers were let off the hook in their final possession for a game-winning field goal.
“There was just no phase of what we were doing that wasn’t on it,” he said. “The pressure was great, the run defense was there, the coverage was excellent, and the play-making was there too.
“Guys were disappointed in that last drive (against the Niners), is basically what happened. They responded to make sure that they sent a different message. They didn’t want to feel that anymore, and they did a great job.”
Dropping the hammer on the Giants put the Seahawks at the top of the main statistical measures: Fewest average points (14.6), fewest average total yards (279.5) and fewest average passing yards (174.2). They are 10th in average rushing defense (105.3). They also lead in turnover differential with 16, five ahead of the next-best teams.
After a strong defensive output in 2012, Carroll was pleased the defense has come back stronger.
“That’s better than most teams (that) do it (one year), then they don’t,” he said. “To come back and play real well again, to keep the points down like we have this consistent, that’s really good. And we did that transitioning to a new coordinator as well (from Gus Bradley to Dan Quinn). Dan has done a fantastic job. The fundamental aspects — playing the deep ball real well, playing the running game real well and getting after the football — have been there again. I think that we’ve improved our pass rush this season.”
Missing three starters — LB K.J. Wright, CB Brandon Browner and nickel CB Walter Thurmond — the defense missed nothing in the game.
“We made a challenge to players, the players challenge each other, and they took after it to play really hard-nosed, tough football and it showed up,” he said. “We really have improved a lot.
“Our tackling is the best it’s been; team pursuit has been the most consistent. The overall attitude about playing fundamental football is really what’s improved. (Sunday) was really, really tight coverage, very aggressive. We met the challenge of a really good receiving crew too.”
For Seahawks fans, the disappointing part of the game was weak production in the red zone that led to three field goals, largely the result of not getting RB Marshawn Lynch (47 yards, 16 carries) to shake free — although he did have 73 yards on six receptions.
Carroll said it was due to a good rush defense by the Giants — they led the NFL in fewest average rush yards per carry (3.7) – missed chances and, a week ago, penalties. The matter comes to the fore Sunday against Arizona because the Cardinals are No. 1 against the rush at 84 yards a game.
“I think we’re okay,” he said. “We’re still going to pound away at it, keep getting our numbers and attempts up there. It’s just a matter of breaking one — that means the difference in those stats sometimes.
“Our attitude about it is right, and we’re on it and consistent with it. So I’m fine about it. We would like to get more production, and I would think that it would happen.”
Running the ball against Arizona while maintaining the edge shown in New York in every other phase would go a way toward two things around the NFL: Dropping jaws or closing them. The Seahawks will accept either.