By Chris Cluff
As the Seahawks come off their latest bye since 2000 with a winning record at this point for the first time since 2007, they seem poised to build on their 6-4 record and make a strong push into the playoffs. The question some will ask: Did the bye interrupt the momentum they were building with a two-game winning streak against Minnesota and the New York Jets?
The answer is almost certainly no. Their past and present says so.
They have been 6-4 six times and made the playoffs in four of those seasons. In the last decade, they have always finished just as well as they started. The last time the Seahawks had won two or more consecutive games heading into their bye was 2005, when they won three straight for a 5-2 start on the way to a 13-3 record and the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks started 3-0 in both 2003 and 2004 before their Week Four byes in those playoff seasons. They were 3-2 with two straight wins in 2001, when they finished 9-7 and missed the postseason.
Pete Carroll’s 2010 team was 2-2 at the bye and won two straight right after. Last year, the Hawks were 2-3 at the bye and lost three straight afterward. Of course, they didn’t have nearly the team they have now. Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst were their quarterbacks, and they had not established the dominant running game they now have.
It’s clear the Seahawks are much better positioned this year. If the playoffs started this week, they would be the No. 2 wild card, and they own tiebreakers over Green Bay, Minnesota and Dallas — with a key game in Chicago coming a week from Sunday.
Carroll indicated that his team knows it controls its destiny and can reach the playoffs for the second time in his three seasons as coach. But Carroll is cautious about assuming the Hawks will pick up right where they left off in the 28-7 domination of the Jets in Seattle. They go to Miami this week.
“It (the bye week) can throw you off,” Carroll told reporters, per Seahawks.com. “You can get thrown out of whack because you’re in those routines…so I’m not taking it for granted that we’ve just got it nailed and we’re back in full steam again. I want to make sure that this is a very strict week and very disciplined week to make sure that we recapture the timing and the things we’ve been doing.”
The Seahawks are healthier at this point of the season than they have been perhaps since 2007, when they beat Washington in the wild-card round and then got blown out in Green Bay. They now hit the road for three of the next four games and seem ready to possibly take off on a nice little winning streak.
“It was fun to be back,” Carroll said. “These guys, I think, really appreciated the break. They’re fired up about our prospects of doing something good here. They came back with a lot of energy and they feel really good, like you would expect. You could tell. You could tell just by the way they ran around today that they had a lot of spring in their step.”
We’ll see if it will be enough to pick up where they left off, extend their winning streak and eventually win the four more games it likely will require for them to make the playoffs.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.