RENTON, Wash. (AP) While their concern remained with teammate Ricardo Lockette undergoing neck surgery, the Seattle Seahawks scattered for their bye week on Monday understanding the importance of getting back to .500 at the midpoint of the season.
That might not be considered much of an accomplishment after beating Dallas 13-12 that evened Seattle's record at 4-4. Even coach Pete Carroll made a crack about it on Monday saying it was ''nothing to be shouting about.''
But getting to that mark before taking a needed break leaves many of Seattle's goals from before the season in its own control heading into the final eight games. That includes remaining the dominant team in the NFC West as Seattle has two games remaining against division-leading Arizona and one game with second-place St. Louis.
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''We have a second-half to really go for it. We have all of the matchups and the games we need to play in the division to settle issues and to go for it and take it as far as we can,'' Carroll said. ''We've put back-to-back weeks winning on the road which is enormous and we're grateful for those wins and doing things in a fashion that we're different than we were earlier in the year. We're finishing games well on both sides of the ball and starting to play in the style that we're accustomed to.''
Seattle's escape from Dallas was thanks to a defense that for a second straight week didn't allow a touchdown and was suffocating in the fourth quarter. After defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter were partly to blame for earlier losses against St. Louis, Cincinnati and Carolina, the Seahawks allowed just 4 yards of offense in the fourth quarter to Dallas.
That comes after allowing just 3 total yards of offense in the fourth quarter to San Francisco a week earlier. And while those performances came against less than dominant offenses, it was just the ninth and 10th times since 1991 the Seahawks have given up less than 10 yards of offense in the fourth quarter, according to STATS.
''I think just in general our third down numbers are going in the right direction. I think that's a big factor. We always come back to third downs, especially when we talk about finishing games on both sides of the football,'' Carroll said. ''The fact we've really knocked numbers down in the past two weeks really makes a difference.''
The improved fourth-quarter defense was tested twice against the Cowboys. The first came after Dallas blocked Steven Hauschka's 47-yard field-goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter that would have given Seattle the lead. The Seahawks responded by forcing a quick three-and-out that took barely two minutes off the clock.
That allowed plenty of time for Russell Wilson to direct a 17-play drive that was capped by Hauschka's 24-yard field goal with 1:06 remaining. And this time Seattle made that lead stand after giving up scores in the final minute of regulation in those losses to the Rams, Bengals and Panthers.
''It just feels good to finally finish,'' Seattle's Bruce Irvin said after the win. ''The past couple weeks our defense has done a great job of finishing no matter what the offense did. We just focused on ourselves and only worried about what we could control.''
NOTES: Carroll said the ankle injury suffered by Luke Willson is the only one that could linger after the week off. Everyone else that was injured in the game should return to practice, Carroll said. ... CB Jeremy Lane, who suffered arm and knee injuries in the Super Bowl and has been on the PUP list all season, should be able to return to practice next week.