After a starring, and winning, role in one of the greatest controversies in recent sports history, can the Seahawks pull it back together sufficiently to beat the unglamorous Rams in unglamorous St. Louis Sunday?
The distraction factor is no joke to Pete Carroll. He likened the atmosphere following their now-notorious 14-12 win over the Packers Monday to that which followed the dramatic 20-16 season opening loss at Arizona, only for the opposite reason.
"The (two games) bring about the similar kind of issues of distractions on the opposite end of the spectrum,"Carroll said after practice Friday. I love to see us come back and play really good, hard football again and execute well, and then we’ll have learned some lessons. We’ll be able to grow from that so it’s a good test for us in that regard.”
The Seahawks were national divas of the week for the play and the game that probably brought to a settlement the NFL's lockout of its veteran referees. Carroll was adamant after the game that the lockout needed to end, which it did Wednesday after two days of intense negotiations spurred by national embarrassment and mockery of the league.
“I think it’s exactly what should’ve happened a long time ago," Carroll said. It’s great to have them back; it’s the way it should be. The game will be administered so much better and so much cleaner. It’s great that it’s done.”
On the health front, the Seahawks received good news: Offensive guard James Carpenter has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury in November to play Sunday. They also had bad news at the same position. John Moffitt reaggravated his surgically repaired elbow Monday and has not practiced this week.
"We’ll have to see where he is again tomorrow morning,” Carroll said of Moffitt. Of Carpenter, a first-round draft choice who played only nine games in his rookie season before tearing his ACL, Carroll said, "The fact that he’s here at the end of the first quarter of the season is really a bonus for us. That’s a great story for us and for James. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get some playing time and do some good things too.
"At one time we thought it might be eight games into the season before we brought him back."
Playing time remains uncertain, but Carroll said he wasn't too concerned about the OL lineup because veteran Paul McQuistan, who has been starting, can fill in at the guard and tackle spots on either side of center.
“He’s ready to go on both sides," he said. "We’ve given Carp all of the work to get him ready, but Paul has worked all of the drill work to go back and jump in that spot if John Moffitt is not ready.
"He’s just been a real flexible guy. A lot of guys get tied up going from one side to another. It hasn’t happened with him."
One focus of the short week of practice has been pre-snap penalties, the false starts and delays of game that have helped propel the Seahawks to the top of the NFL's most-penalized list at 10.7 a game.
“We stayed late again yesterday, and just keep working on it," he said. "It’s taking us more time than we want. We’re trying to get these guys to settle down and make sure that we’re sharp and clean. We’re not going to play at our best until we get rid of that stuff.
"You make it easy on (opponents) them. I think it has something to do with experience and playing together and that time that it takes for everybody to be confident and secure with the calls, so they’re not thinking of a bunch of things before the ball being snapped.