BY Art Thiel 09:30PM 12/20/2015

Thiel: Playoffs 5 times in 6 years for Seahawks

The 30-13 win clinched a playoff berth, but the method Sunday was gratifying to coach Pete Carroll: Backups stepping into prominent roles as the postseason looms.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson lofts a TD pass over Browns LB Karlos Dansby Sunday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

At 2-4, the Seahawks were stuffed, mounted and nailed to the perch. Dead bird. Two months later, they have clinched a playoff spot two weeks before the end of the regular season. Beautiful plumage.

No Marshawn Lynch. No Thomas Rawls. No Kam Chancellor. No Jimmy Graham. No difference.

Granted, Sunday’s opponent was the 3-10 Cleveland Browns, now 3-11 after a 30-13 defeat that was almost inevitable given the relative places of the franchises. The Browns haven’t been to the playoffs since 2002; the Seahawks made it for the fifth time in coach Pete Carroll’s six seasons in Seattle.

But think about that big picture for a moment: Five times in six seasons, for a franchise that made the postseason five times in its first 27 years.

“I like that,” said Carroll, beaming. “I like that a lot. That’s what we’re here to do — be consistent and be on top, and battle to see how far you can take it.

“Right now, we’re feeling pretty good about our move.”

A fifth consecutive win does that. But the way it was done was particularly gratifying to Carroll. On offense, nine of 12 third-down conversions, and no turnovers. On defense, one touchdown allowed, a turnover and no pass longer than 22 yards.

Given the season’s earlier problems, the past five games have been the purest expressions of Carroll’s axioms of persistence and belief in team.

“If we kept working really hard, and believing in other, we’d eventually find it,” he said.  “And we have.

The offense is the best it’s been since we’ve been here.”

The statement is even more remarkable considering the list of injured. Into the breach at running back stepped Christine Michael (84 yards, 16 carries), Bryce Brown (43 yards, nine carries) and Derrick Coleman (10 yards, five carries).  Add Wilson’s 46 on five carries, and the 182 yards on the ground was a remarkable feat and another chapter in the rise of the once-woebegone O-line.

Michael’s hard, apparently error-free running was an uptick from the inattentive, erratic play of his first go-round with the Seahawks that ended abruptly with a trade in September to the Cowboys. The turnaround may have worked Michael into the starting job that Sunday went to Coleman, a reliable, less talented back.

Carroll was quick to douse the notion of naming a starter for the next game at home against St. Louis.

“We’re not using that word,” Carroll said when asked if the “committee” approach to the position will continue. “We don’t know that word. We’re just going to go one day at a time and see how ha goes.

“Christine was very serious about adding to the team. He’s been through a lot since he was here before. He recognized the opportunity. He was very clear about it.”

Michael talked last week of being humbled by his travails. That didn’t change post-game.

“The ultimate thing is just being a part of this team,” he said. “The guys that drafted me . . . I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here.”

Said teammate FS Earl Thomas: “You never know what’s going on in somebody’s head. Any other guy (who) would get cut, would have some hard feelings. But he’s a grown man, turning into a pro. I’m excited for his success.”

A similar transition developed in the secondary, where Kelcie McCray stepped in at strong safety for Chancellor (bruised tailbone) to make his first career start and Jeremy Lane had his first career start at cornerback in place of DeShawn Shead (ankle).

McCray, an ace on special teams, led the Seahawks with eight tackles, and Lane had four. And CB Marcus Burley played the nickel position and came up with a sack and an interception.

“Jeremy did a great job,” Carroll said. “That’s a really big positive. Kelcie has had back-to-back good solid games. Burley too. It was pretty exciting.”

Carroll’s giddiness is not just post-win blather. With the playoffs certain, he can now manage his use of personnel over the next two games to minimize injury risk and do what he can to provide rest. The fact that competence is available to fill in for missing stars is essential at the time in the calendar.

The Seahawks (9-5) want to hold their No. 5 seed in the NFC race because the win Sunday night by Arizona gives the Cardinals the West division title and ends Seattle’s chances for a three-peat.

At five, the Seahawks go on the road to face the No. 4 seed in the first round from one among NFC East contenders Washington (7-7), Philadelphia (6-8) and the New York Giants (6-8), any of which would be better than facing the likely No. 3 seed Packers in Green Bay, should the Seahawks fall to No. 6.

The final regular-season game for Seattle in Arizona is shaping up potentially as meaningless for playoff positioning. Another Seahawks win or a loss by the No. 6 Vikings means there will be no stakes, beyond pride, in the outcome with the Cardinals.

That will be odd. But the Seahawks seem to deal well with odd.

The penchant for finding, growing, throwing away and rediscovering, talent is a most useful tool this time of year. That’s how to, as Carroll put it, stay on top.


  • Pixdawg13

    I don’t see how one more win puts the Hawks at #5. If the Vikes also win, both are 10-5, and Seahawks win the tiebreaker on the head-to-head win. What if the Vikes then win their last game and are 11-5?

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    • notaboomer

      not to mention gb has az & mn so could lose division & have tiebreak over sea.

      • rosetta_stoned

        Which would put Seattle on the road at #3 Minnesota. I’d take that anytime.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          If GB were to succumb vs AZ and Minn…. and Seattle won their final two the Hawks would be #5 seed by virtue of better overall record GB 10~6 SEA 11~5. If that Viking scenario came to pass it would be a boon indeed.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    This period is the franchise’s golden age. Enjoy.

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    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      As to your point you can rattle off a small list of players playing as good as any player at that position in Seahawk lore.Collectively the teams ability to overcome obstacles has been absolute. Now they have another milestone to climb. that would be…On the road play off success of which past Hawk squads(pre Carroll) have been abysmal. That is another bugaboo they have the opportunity to put to rest in this glorious season.
      A Billy Squire rock hit in 1983 called “Best years of our lives” comes to mind in the terrific effort of our FC these past 3 years because it definitely has been the finest stretch in Seahawk history. Go Hawks!

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    Five playoff appearances in six years. Wow. Fairly similar to the Bengals.

    • SeaRaays

      Except how many playoff games did Cincinnati win in that time? How many Super Bowls? Yet this is a new season. Cannot base the future from past success.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Cincy has never won a Super Bowl.
        Not to mention that post super bowl parade likely is not happening this year in Ohio with the loss of their franchise QB. With the momentum the 2 time defending NFC Champs are riding heading into the play offs I am sure there will be plenty of buzz as to who is the team nobody wants to face on the NFC side in the quest of the 50th clash of the NFC/AFC and subsequent hunt for that 50th Lombardi. Go Hawks!

        • SeaRaays

          I thought he was comparing the Seahawks to Cincinnati over the last 4 seasons. Usually talking sports if you go beyond a decade at a time… even though it is the same pro sport … rules, salary caps and Athletes can be hugely different from league to league. It is difficult to compare.

          • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

            Yeah you are right. Cincy played in the SB against San Fran in 1981.That was a world ago in the differences you noted. That intangible is what makes repeat performances so ultra difficult. Buffalo making it to 4 in the early 90s for example is stunning.It would amaze me if it happened again in our lifetime.

    • rosetta_stoned

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