The Seahawks finally are back in Seattle to stay for a while.
After having played seven of their first 11 games on the road — the most of any team in the NFL to this point — the Seahawks return home to meet the 49ers on Sunday. It’s the first of two consecutive at CenturyLink Field — the first time that has happened this season — and the beginning of four of five at home to end the regular season.
That December home stretch is among the many reasons coach Pete Carroll was brimming with optimism when he met the media Monday following the 30-27 victory Sunday at Carolina, which put Seattle over the .500 mark, at 6-5, for the first time this season.
“We were fortunate to get a win and get out of there,’’ Carroll said.
Carroll also talked about injuries and what went right and wrong.
Here are some highlights:
DOUG BALDWIN WAS ‘EXTRAORDINARY’ TO PLAY
Carroll said again that Doug Baldwin made an “extraordinary’’ effort to play against the Panthers with what he said was a pulled groin. The good news is that he said Baldwin made it through without incident and should be fine for the 49ers game and a matchup with longtime Stanford and Seattle teammate Richard Sherman.
“I can’t imagine that he’s not sore,’’ Carroll said. “That was extraordinary that he played. He had a groin pull that was legit and he just managed it and made it through the week.’’
Fullback Tre Madden suffered the only apparent significant injury in the game, according to Carroll, a sternum injury after he caught a 28-yard pass to set up a touchdown.
Carroll said it’s unclear what the status is for linebacker K.J. Wright, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury.
Carroll said Wright is “still working at his rehab’’ and has “a process’’ he’s going through and there is no set date for when he will return.
The only other big question entering the week is whether running back J.D. McKissic will be activated to the 53-man roster after returning to practice last week. Carroll said there’s a chance it could happen this week, saying, “I’m looking forward to him coming back.’’
DAVID MOORE ACTS AS WELL AS HE CATCHES
There were so many big plays the Seahawks had to make down the stretch to pull off the victory that it was almost hard to keep track.
But one stood out – a fourth-and-three touchdown pass of 35 yards from Russell Wilson to David Moore.
It was the latest of a handful of big plays turned in this season by Moore, a second-year receiver who spent most of last season on the practice squad. He now has five touchdowns, second on the team.
Carroll said what was most impressive was the way Moore played it off as if the ball was not coming his way to try to fool Carolina cornerback Corn Elder, who was playing a more significant role due to an injury to starter Donte Jackson.
“He also demonstrated again really natural instincts on how to play that ball, that last one, to not show that the ball was coming and delay the opportunity to let the guy who was covering him know what was going on,’’ Carroll said. “That was big-time savvy and he pulled it off great.’’
Carroll said as much as he’d like to take credit for the team teaching that to Moore, he said it’s mostly a natural skill.
“Guys either kind of have that or they don’t,’’ he said.
SEATTLE MISSED WRIGHT IN DEFENDING CAROLINA’S RUN
The big negative in the game was Seattle allowing a season-high 220 rushing yards and 8.15 yards per rushing attempt, the latter number the fourth-highest in Seattle history, according to Pro Football Reference.
Carroll said it was hard to pin it on any one thing.
“We made a lot of errors and it’s concerning because we are not a real complex system,’’ Carroll said.
But Carroll did point to one factor — the absence of Wright.
Carroll noted Carolina has a lot of different facets to its running game, including ample use of quarterback Cam Newton, that can make diagnosing plays more challenging than against some other teams.
“It showed up that there were some errors and some misreads and stuff like that that hasn’t happened in years past (against Carolina) that gave them some stuff,’’ Carroll said.
One play in particular where Wright was missed was a 59-yard run by Christian McCaffrey, who had 125 yards on the day.
“Big mistake, yeah,’’ Carroll said of a hole opening up wide for McCaffrey. “About three of them on that play.’’
Asked specifically what happened on that play, Carroll said, “just kind of reads and stuff.’’
LACK OF FUMBLE RECOVERIES ‘REAL FRUSTRATING’
Carolina had five fumbles on the day (three by McCaffrey) but recovered all of them, which Carroll said was “real frustrating that we had some great opportunities to get the ball away from them that could have changed the ballgame. Was all over the ground, we just couldn’t come up with it.’’
While he mostly attributed it to the way the ball bounced — “they got a couple of fortuitous bounces’’ — he also said there were some teaching points on how to battle for the ball underneath piles.
“Every single one of them there was an opportunity here or there,’’ Carroll said.
SEATTLE’S FOCUS ON RUN HELPED LIMIT CHANCES TO SACK CAM NEWTON
The Seahawks not only didn’t sack Cam Newton on 30 passing attempts — one of the amazing stats in the game considering that Seattle won — but also didn’t have an official quarterback hit.
Carroll said the pass rush needs to be better but also said there was an explanation for a lot of it — that the Seahawks were focused on Carolina’s running game and paying specific attention to Newton, who had 63 yards on eight carries.
“Attention to the running game,’’ Carroll said. “Most of the stuff was play-passes and they did a nice job changing their actions. We were really trying to hang in and doing things right on the running game and kept us focused there more than transitioning to the pass rush, and the variety of things they did was just really well done.’’
One might raise the question that Seattle still allowed 220 rushing yards despite that attention to the run. But hey, Seattle won.
SEATTLE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF CAROLINA’S ATTENTION TO SEAHAWKS’ RUN
Carroll reiterated a point he made after the game — that the Panthers seemed determined to take Seattle’s running game away, holding the Seahawks to 75 yards, which in turn helped Seattle’s passing attack.
“We didn’t have errors as much as we just weren’t quite as effective as we wanted to be against them,’’ Carroll said. “But again I give them a lot of credit. They really went after it, they stunted well, they did a couple of new things that we had to adjust to and they are just really good. All of their players are strong and physical and they just did a nice job of committing to it. And that allowed us to throw the football like we did, so you give and you get a little bit there and so it worked out fine.’’
Indeed. Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards while both Moore (103) and Tyler Lockett (107) topped the 100-yard mark in receiving.