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Pete Carroll: ‘There’s a lot at stake in this game’

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 15:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks leads warmups before a game against the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field on December 15, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks leads warmups before a game against the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field on December 15, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – You won’t catch Pete Carroll downplaying this game.

When the Seattle Seahawks are facing off against the San Francisco at 1:25 p.m. Sunday, they’ve got one last possible shot at the NFC’s No. 2 seed – and the first-round bye that goes with it – on the line.

But they’ve also one more chance to right the ship before the playoffs.

Carroll talks exclusively every week with Q13 News’ Aaron Levine. Make sure to catch the game today on the home of the Seahawks, Q13 FOX, which will also televise the entirety of their playoff run.

Coach, what needs to happen tomorrow to make you feel comfortable heading into the postseason?

We want to play good football. We want to play really solid both halves. We played a really good second half the last couple weeks, and started slowly. We’d like to start better.

When you take a look back at the regular season, can you compare the challenges you faced to previous years?

You know, they come in different shapes and sizes. This year, having Russell banged up really changed us in the first half of the season. We had to adjust and make it through that time.  Other years, it’s been other stuff. So, you’ve just got to figure out a way and get back on track and make sure that you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got. And usually, our guys step up so well. We’ve had a lot of guys step up and do some heroic things, and it gave us a chance to win the division.

Overshadowed last week was Doug Baldwin claiming his second straight 1,000 yard season, back to back, just the fifth player in franchise history. Is this Doug Baldwin’s best season yet?

Well, I don’t know if you can top last year. Last year was just extraordinary with the firepower that we generated in the second half of the season. He had a great season throughout, and I think he just picked up where he left off. But there was a run there – it was a pretty famous run for he and Russell. So, I think that was probably him at his best, but he’s had a great year.

That five game stretch last year, is that what you’re talking about?

Yeah.

How has he matured as a player and a teammate, going back to his rookie year.

He has grown a great deal. He’s become a real centerpiece player in our program. He’s a terrific player. He’s a great leader, which was always there, he’s really just matured with it and come to understand his role as he’s recognized that guys look to him, and he’s done a very good job with that. He’s been such a consistent player that he leads in that regard also. He always is there, he always is making key plays and coming through for us, so he’s been a fantastic facet.

You talk about the leadership on this team on a regular basis, but how important is that leadership at this point in the season, right before the playoffs?

Surely it is. We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team, and they’re looking for somebody to calm their nerves, calm their approach to the game, and that’s what those guys can do for them. We have terrific leadership and guys that really have been through a lot and want to share, and want to take care of the young guys. So that’s really what’s going on this time of year.

I know you want to get the running game going a little bit more. Where’s the area of the offensive line that needs to improve the most?

We need to be consistent. We looked great two weeks ago in the second half. And then we did great in the second half this week. We need to just play a good, smooth game throughout and put together four quarters of solid ball. I think we’ll feel a lot better about it when we do that.

It’s not how you start it’s how you finish, but is tomorrow the finish of the regular season, or the start of a brand new year? It is New Year’s Day.

I do look at it as putting the seal on the season. It’s important for us to play well – there’s a lot at stake in this game. We want to do a nice job of positioning ourselves for the opportunity. We’re always talking about finishing, so whenever I get a chance to emphasize it I’m doing it. So this is the finish of the regular season.