"Finishing" is one of the terms the Seahawks' coach constantly preaches. And his team's 30-20 win over Minnesota on Sunday was a pretty good definition of what Carroll wants to see.
"Finishing is huge in this program, the awareness of it, the concept of it what it takes to finish is a big deal to us. ... We put together a really good finish to this game and that really was the story to me," Carroll said Monday. "There are issues that we have and stuff that we're working on, but we put together a great fourth quarter on defense and on offense and owned the football and controlled the football game."
Thanks to the running of Marshawn Lynch, overshadowed at times by Adrian Peterson's big day, the Seahawks (5-4) were able to control the ball for nearly all of the final 12 minutes, never giving Minnesota a chance to rally.
Lynch rushed for 124 yards, including 69 in the second half. While his running allowed Seattle to control the clock, its defense made adjustments to try and contain Peterson, who finished with 182 yards.
Seattle scored on two of its final four possessions, but it was the last one that proved most impressive. The Seahawks took over with 5:27 left following an interception and never let Minnesota see the ball again. The Seahawks ran 11 plays, converting a pair of fourth-down attempts. The last fourth-down conversion was a 6-yard pass on fourth-and-4 to fullback Michael Robinson out of the backfield.
Russell Wilson then took a knee at the Minnesota 9, concluding one of Seattle's more impressive drives that didn't result in points.
"We wanted to finish the game on offense and we didn't want to give them a chance," Carroll said.
Peterson was the story early because of his dynamic performance that included 144 yards rushing in the first half. But Lynch was equally good in a different way. While Peterson carried just five times in the second half, Lynch was handed the ball 15 times and told to grind out yards and eat up clock. Lynch had just one run that went for more than 10 yards a 23-yard run when he carried tacklers and helped set up his 3-yard TD in the third quarter but he accomplished what Seattle wanted.
The Seahawks had 21 minutes of possession in the second half and of the final 11:49 of the fourth quarter, Minnesota held the ball for just 56 seconds.
Some of Peterson's yards were just his remarkable ability. Carroll noted that was the case on his 74-yard run on the second play of the game when Peterson slipped between two defenders at the sideline with a piercing cut and found open field only to be tracked down at the 1.
But there were issues with defenders filling in the wrong gaps that gave Peterson a free run into the secondary.
"He made a lot of guys miss, but we did not fit our runs well at all at times. There were a bunch of them that we did, but there were a half-dozen plays that we didn't and we took advantage of them and made the most of it," Carroll said. "He was very, very quick and very decisive in his runs and made the most of the opportunities that he had and we were lucky to get him down a couple of times."
Instead of trying to make slowing down Peterson more complicated, the Seahawks simplified things in the second half. Multiple players noted the decision to return to their base defense. While Peterson had one big run in the second half among the few carries he had Seattle also stopped Peterson three times for no gain or a loss of yardage.
After carrying the Seahawks through the early part of the season, Seattle's defense has now given up at least 20 points in three of the past four games. And if Christian Ponder had been at all effective throwing the ball, the Vikings would have become the fourth straight team to top 300 total yards against the Seahawks.
"That's why finishing is so important," Carroll said. "We did all of the right stuff to get out of that game with a big win for us at the end."
Notes: LB K.J. Wright and OT James Carpenter (concussions) will both be following league protocol this week for returning, Carroll said. He did not know if either would play Sunday vs. the Jets. Wright's status is of concern in that he's the starting outside linebacker and the backup at middle linebacker. ... SS Kam Chancellor sustained a thigh bruise late in the game.