RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Despite all of his rapid optimism, there came a point in the NFC wild-card game where doubt creeped into Pete Carroll’s mind.
Not when the Seattle Seahawks were watching Blair Walsh line up for a potential game-winning 27-yard field goal in the final seconds.
About 15 minutes of game-time earlier when the Seahawks were looking at a 9-0 deficit and had done nothing offensively.
“When they went to 9-zip it was a moment of, ‘Oh boy, we haven’t scored once, how are we going to score twice?’ There was a moment there questioning what is going to happen next.” Carroll said on Monday.
“And we came right back and got going, and got our score, and got the turnover and just flurried to the lead. Made it kind of fun. We were back in it. I thought the whole thing was really cool.”
Thawed out from the sub-zero temperatures in Minnesota, the Seahawks were moving forward on Monday after one of the more memorable playoff games in their history.
Instead of speaking about all the turmoil of the season, Carroll was getting his players prepared for a trip to Carolina on Sunday in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
It seemed so unlikely when Walsh lined up for his potential winning kick with 26 seconds left, only to see the Minnesota kicker rush his attempt and badly pull it to the left, leaving the Seahawks in a state of stunned euphoria.
Richard Sherman had nearly blocked one of Walsh’s made attempts earlier in the game and Carroll said re-watching the game it was obvious that Walsh was quicker in his approach and kick than his previous attempts.
“The final kick was kicked much faster than their other kicks. I don’t need to give you the times but it was considerably faster,” Carroll said. “For whatever reason they sped up their mechanism. (Sherman) couldn’t have been closer. We can’t figure out how he didn’t get it. So they went quite a bit faster.”
Seattle’s unlikely victory was the result largely of its defense that kept Adrian Peterson wrapped up twice this season and forced a critical fumble by Peterson early in the fourth quarter.
In two games against Seattle this season, Peterson had 31 carries for 63 yards. The Vikings managed only 58 yards rushing and became the seventh team in the past eight games Seattle has held under 100 yards rushing.
“I thought it was a tremendous illustration of what it takes to play great run defense against a really excellent football player,” Carroll said. “It was play after play after play of continuing to do the right thing. That’s how it goes. It’s not just how tough you are or how fast you run, you’ve got to do things right. The guys are doing a great job of that.”
Seattle’s victory means another week of pondering the status of running back Marshawn Lynch, who did not make the trip to Minnesota after deciding on Friday he was not going to be able to play.
Carroll said there was no setback, simply Lynch telling the Seahawks staff he didn’t have the confidence he needed to run with his style in a playoff game.
Carroll said the plan will remain the same with Lynch this week and he’ll be evaluated daily. But there is no projection on whether he’ll play against the Panthers. Lynch had 54 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown when Seattle faced Carolina in the regular season.
“This is his first surgery and it happens to be right in his core and you all know having watched him, you all know what kind of runner he is and the lateral things he does with his body they’re so abrupt and so sudden he needs to feel he can do those things,” Carroll said.
“Even though he can run fast and look like he’s moving, he didn’t have the confidence he could go out there and react to guys and do that. There’s nothing we can do about that.”
NOTES: Carroll said he expected TE Luke Willson to return this week. Willson missed the past two games after suffering a concussion in Week 16 against St. Louis. … The only significant injury coming out of Sunday’s game was a hamstring injury for FB Will Tukuafu, Carroll said. … Seattle will play at Carolina for the fourth time since the 2012 season.
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