From the Sidelines: Seahawks vs Panthers

Published on December 8, 2010 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

Carroll’s halftime speech — the one that served as the springboard for the Seahawks’ 21-point barrage in the third quarter — became the topic of the postgame revelry as media and fans wondered what the coach could’ve possibly said to spur such a scoring onslaught from a team that just minutes before had been down 14-0.

The most common question Coach Pete Carroll got following Sunday’s 31-14 comeback win had nothing to do with what happened on the field.

It was all about what happened in the locker room.

Carroll’s halftime speech — the one that served as the springboard for the Seahawks’ 21-point barrage in the third quarter — became the topic of the postgame revelry as media and fans wondered what the coach could’ve possibly said to spur such a scoring onslaught from a team that just minutes before had been down 14-0.

“We said we were going to get to a defining point,” a resolute Carroll, his index finger pointing to the ground, told his players in the locker room at halftime. “And that point is now.”

The greatest unsolved mystery of Sunday’s game might provide more intrigue than answers, though, since the head coach didn’t spin off his most epic of halftime speeches. The message remained the same as always, but oddly enough, that’s probably where the most power came from as the Seahawks took the field for a second half of a lifetime.

“There isn’t a mystery here,” Carroll said at halftime, echoing a sentiment he’s shared in nearly every pregame and halftime speech this season. “We’ve got to come out and ball.”

Sticking to the philosophy — the same philosophy and principles they have lived since Carroll was hired 11 months ago — allowed the Seahawks to play free and unhindered and set the stage for the best quarter of their season.

But while Carroll’s halftime words followed form, his assistants became uncharacteristically impassioned by the moment. Down 14-3 and with both sides of the ball struggling, the two coordinators — Jeremy Bates and Gus Bradley — delivered their respective tactical adjustments in a fiery manner, which obviously played a role in the second half turnaround from all phases of the game. The offense scored 28 points and the defense held Carolina to zero points and 88 yards of offense in the contest’s final 30 minutes.

But even more than the detailed adjustments or intense words was a simple attitude adjustment by the players and coaches. During the Saturday night team meeting, Carroll lectured on the importance and impact of a proper positive mindset, preemptively clearing a path for Sunday’s rebound.

“The most important thing the rest of this season is our attitude,” Carroll told his players on Saturday night. “There’s so much power in our attitude.”

Carroll, always on the lookout for teachable moments, got a season’s supply of them during the first half on Sunday. With the Seahawks sputtering their way to a 14-3 deficit at the midway point, Carroll’s message only became louder and clearer to the players.

“When we came in here at halftime, we left that first half behind us,” the head coach said in a jubilant postgame locker room. “When it was going wrong, we looked the other way. We hung tough and made plays.

“Our attitude was too right.”

It got to that point because of what Carroll discussed on Saturday night in the team meeting. Using a John Wooden quote — “things turn out the best for the people who make the best of how things turn out” — and singling out the story of 14-year-old Jake Olson, who lost his vision to cancer last year but has since become an inspiration to thousands, Carroll highlighted the importance of a positive attitude in overcoming adversity.

Less than 24 hours later, the Seahawks faced plenty of adversity. Then they proved their coach right by rising above the disadvantage with a positive attitude in the second half en route to a dominating victory. In what amounted to a must-win and do-or-die opportunity, the Seahawks achieved the must and do, largely thanks to a never-say-die attitude.

“We have five games left,” injured defensive lineman Red Bryant bellowed to his teammates in the locker room before the game, “but what are we going to do today?”

The third quarter was clearly the turning point of the 12th game of the 2010 season. Two touchdowns by Marshawn Lynch, an 84-yard punt return by Leon Washington, the defense holding Carolina to 19 total yards and Lofa Tatupu providing the exclamation point with an interception for a touchdown will do just that and turn things around in a flash known as one 15-minute period.

It’s obviously premature to say the third quarter was the turning point of a season and the launching pad for a finishing stretch, but if — or when? — the Seahawks make a memorable closing run, the second half of Sunday’s game will most assuredly be the yearbook moment.

It didn’t come easy and it surely wasn’t pretty during the first half, but the Seahawks needed this type of mettle-testing game. Overcoming a 14-point deficit and soaring to 31 consecutive points with contributions from all phases builds character and confidence in ways that no other game can.

“This was a big day for us,” the head coach said triumphantly.

Carroll concluded his postgame speech with an interactive set of questions for his players, highlighting a finishing mindset the players had on Sunday, and one they’ll have to continue to follow for the final four games of the season if they plan on becoming NFC West champions.

“Can you win the game in the first quarter?” No!

“Can you win the game in the second quarter?” No!

“Can you win the game in the third quarter?” No!

“Can you win the game in the fourth quarter?” Yeah!

And now, with the ultimate character-builder now in the Seahawks’ arsenal, the fourth quarter of the season — quite fittingly — begins Sunday.

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