Seahawks in rare situation of needing help to make playoffs
By TIM BOOTH
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Throughout their lengthy streak of playoff appearances, the Seattle Seahawks have kept their postseason possibilities under their control.
Whether it was trying to get into the playoffs, or securing a first-round bye or home-field advantage, the Seahawks have not needed help from others during their six playoff appearances in the past seven seasons under Pete Carroll.
This year is different, and the Seahawks have no one but themselves to blame. Seattle will make the playoffs only by beating Arizona on Sunday in the regular-season finale and getting a Carolina victory over Atlanta.
It's a strange circumstance for Carroll and some of his veteran players, who haven't needed that kind of assist in the past.
"It doesn't bother me. It doesn't trouble me. We've been through so much here since I've been here, we've kind of played every single scenario. It's just another one to add to the list," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
"It doesn't matter what the other teams do if we don't take care of business, so we've got to take care of business first and then see what happens. It's just another thing to add to the list of challenges, adversity, whatever you want to call it, that we've been able to overcome over the years."
Seattle kicked away its chance at having the tiebreaker over Atlanta by losing to the Falcons in Week 11, a game that featured a fake field-goal attempt that backfired in the closing seconds of the first half and Blair Walsh coming up short on a 52-yarder that would have forced overtime.
Seattle's 17-14 loss to Washington in Week 9 also sticks out as regrettable. Walsh missed three field goals, the Seahawks failed to score on offense until early in the fourth quarter and Washington scored with less than a minute remaining after Seattle had taken the lead.
A win that day would have allowed Seattle to control its playoff fate.
"We know that we need a little help, and that's very unfortunate," linebacker K.J. Wright said. "But like always, we definitely have to focus on ourselves."
Seattle made the playoffs without help in Carroll's first season - 2010 - when the Seahawks won the division at 7-9 by beating the Rams in Week 17 at home.
In 2013 and 2014, when Seattle was the No. 1 seed in the NFC, it clinched home-field advantage with Week 17 wins at home over the Rams both times.
In 2012 and 2015, when Seattle was a wild-card team, both playoff berths were clinched prior to Week 17. Last year, the Seahawks clinched the NFC West in Week 15.
Even with a win, Seattle could become the sixth 10-win NFC team not to make the playoffs in the past eight seasons.
Philadelphia was the last in 2014, along with Arizona (2013), Chicago (2012) and both the New York Giants and Tampa Bay in 2010, the season the Seahawks were division champs with seven wins.
Wright said he's sure word of what is happening in Atlanta will creep its way to Seattle's sideline on Sunday, even if Carroll tries to keep the focus strictly on what is happening with his team.
"It's hugely important to focus on what's at hand and that's for sure, so you know it's not anything different than what it normally is," Carroll said.
"We're trying to win every game and every one of them counts and it's a big deal, and we do everything we can to play for that. This is going to be no different, so we've prepared for this all along and we'll see what happens at the end."
NOTES: Carroll said LG Luke Joeckel expects to play despite a foot injury sustained in last week's win over Dallas. ... DT Nazair Jones suffered a setback in his recovery from a high-ankle sprain and likely won't be able to play this week. Jones has missed the past four games.
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Updated December 27, 2017