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Late-blooming Seahawks making presence felt

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 19, 2011 @ 7:43 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

With five wins in their last six games and three straight wins for the first time since 2007, it's time to start paying a lot more attention to Pete Carroll's Seahawks. Seattle kept its faint playoff hopes alive Sunday with a 38-14 win over the Bears in Chicago that sets the stage for a suddenly very intriguing divisional twin bill to close out the season with the NFC West champion Niners at home Sunday and the equally hot Cardinals on the road one week later. A 9-7 finish would be an undeniably impressive feat, considering how feeble the team looked in the season's first half, spinning its wheels to the tune of a 2-6 record that had many close observers wondering whether Carroll knew what the heck he was doing.

Interestingly, the biggest key to the team's turnaround — a full-fledged commitment to Marshawn Lynch's "Beast Mode" — was not the main reason for the victory over the Bears, as Lynch rushed for only 42 yards, his lowest total since Week Eight, when he gained only 24 yards on 16 carries in a 34-12 loss to the Bengals. Lynch did score a pair of TDs and just managed to surpass 1,000 yards in rushing Sunday, thus becoming the first Seahawks back to accomplish that feat since Shaun Alexander turned the trick back in 2005. But he was greatly overshadowed by QB Tarvaris Jackson, whose 176 yards passing in the second half triggered 31 unanswered points that all but buried the Bears' playoff hopes and suggested Jackson just might be a keeper under center after all.

The PFW spin,

Paging David Clayton Thomas, the lead singer of the great rock band "Blood, Sweat & Tears," whose song "Spinning Wheel" would be the perfect anthem for the 2011 Seahawks.

Truth be told, while the team has enjoyed sustained excellence in recent weeks, the Seahawks perhaps set the standard for being as up-and-down as any team in the league for the second year in a row.

The numbers don't lie:

  • They have seven wins and seven losses.
  • Jackson, who has 12 touchdowns to go with 12 interceptions, was terrible in the first half against the Bears Sunday before inexplicably catching fire in the second half.
  • Undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin, the team's improbable leading receiver, had only one catch for 13 yards against the Bears after being a virtual one-man band six days earlier in the Monday-night victory over the Rams, catching seven passes for 93 yards and a TD, in addition to making three tide-turning special-teams plays early in the game.
  • Enter Golden Tate, who picked up the receiving slack Sunday with four catches for 61 yards and a likely starting berth the rest of the season, with Mike Williams, last year's improbably leading receiver, going down for the count with a season-ending ankle injury.

Clearly, Seattle's defense is a great deal more dependable on a consistent basis, with relatively unsung performers such as DRE Red Bryant, rookie OLB K.J. Wright, MLB David "Heater" Hawthorne and a talented young secondary to die for offering the team's best hope for a miracle playoff run, Lynch's penchant for beastly runs notwithstanding.

But banking on this team to stay in the hunt would probably not be a real wise move, considering all the moving parts that continue to come into play, particularly on offense.

The best move?

Just sit back and watch whatever unfolds. At the very least, the Seahawks have suddenly become a very fun team to watch after being a very easy team to tune out in the first eight games this season.

Maybe the frenetic Carroll knows exactly what he's doing, after all. Stay tuned.

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