Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stayed on brand leading up to Monday night's season opener, delivering his usual treat-every-game-the-same message in his responses to frequent questions about facing former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos.
But clearly, facing Wilson six months after their messy and public divorce made this more than just another win.
On his weekly radio show Tuesday morning, Carroll reiterated his postgame comment that the win wasn't "validating." Instead, he called it "really rewarding," especially for the former Seahawks who were in attendance. That included Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Cliff Avril, K.J. Wright -- who raised the 12 flag before kickoff -- and other members of their Super Bowl XLVIII and XLIX teams who were teammates with Wilson.
"I didn't need the validation," Carroll told Seattle Sports 710-AM."I just wanted it. I just wanted to win. I wanted to win for all of the reasons that come along with this one. Maybe as much as anything is representing the guys that have played before. It meant a lot to those guys. I was so thrilled to be able to hug those guys up and see them and look them in the eye."
Why did it mean so much to them?
"Eh, you figure that out," Carroll said. "But it was really meaningful and they really wanted it and I knew we were playing for a lot more than just the regular stuff. We have a real connection with the history ... They feel it and they love the fact that they played here and they love seeing us do well. On this night, they realized there was a big opportunity and a big statement to be made: The game isn't about an individual player here or there. It's about team. This is the ultimate team sport and it's been stated so many times before. It takes everybody.
"Sometimes when so much focus goes, it just rubs guys wrong I guess or whatever. But I'm thrilled that we won that game. It was significant for a lot of reasons beyond just it's the first game of the year and all that. But the fact that it was, it was Monday night, oh man, it couldn't be better. Just really rewarding, and on we go."
The Seahawks' Twitter account reveled in the outcome with a pair of tweets that playfully -- and not so subtly -- trolled Wilson and the Broncos.
Our ride continues. pic.twitter.com/gp12Njlcvd— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 13, 2022
JUST THE BEGINNING pic.twitter.com/niNB2EuV3V— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 13, 2022
Carroll reiterated his surprise at Denver's highly-scrutinized decision to attempt the game-winning field goal from 64 yards out in the closing seconds, saying the Seahawks were preparing to defend a fourth-and-5 play "the whole way." When Broncos kicker Brandon McManus' kick went wide left, the Seahawks escaped with a one-point win as 6.5-point underdogs.
"After all of the talk and all of the buildup and we were doubted the whole year, and we didn't have a chance and all that," Carroll said. "So they weren't right so we get to feel that a little bit."
Carroll had plenty to say after Monday's win about how one focus of the Seahawks' defensive game plan was to get Wilson to move to his left, which would force him to throw back across his body.
"It's really the way to play him," Carroll said.
"When he moves to his left, it's hard for him numbers-wise and all that. So we were able to do some stuff and it wasn't perfect at all but it was effective and we felt like we were controlling it. So it wasn't always just getting clean to get the sack. It was to try to make him go where we wanted him to go. Guys did a good job. We could do better."
Wilson -- the best quarterback in franchise history and the only one to lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory -- was welcomed back to Lumen Field with a dozen or so hugs from former teammates and coaches, relentless boos from fans and no pregame tribute to commemorate all that he accomplished during his decade in Seattle. His only known exchange with Carroll was a brief one postgame.
"I can't even remember what my words were," Carroll said. "I think, 'Nice game.'"