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Pete Carroll is 18-6 in must-win games, 8-3 in Week 17

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have not yet been in this position under Pete Carroll: It’s Week 17, the Seahawks have not locked up a playoff berth, and they need to win in order to stave off regular season elimination. It’s enough to make any Seattle fan nervous, but that emotion, reaction, or “preaction” is not foreign to Carroll or Russell Wilson.

When pressed to win a must-win game, the Seahawks of this era have typically responded with a win. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

Since getting his first head coaching job with the New York Jets in 1994 to the divisional round loss to the Atlanta Falcons in January, Carroll is 16-6 in “must-win” or “really wants to win to improve playoff positioning” games. He’s also 8-3 in Week 17 games.

Considering that one of those Week 17 losses came in his lone season with the Jets, Carroll is 8-2 in the more relevant stretch of his career, and 6-1 with Seattle. As they face off at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Seahawks need to improve that number to 7-1 to get to 10-6 and hope that the Falcons lose to the Carolina Panthers. Even if they don’t, at least Wilson can become the first quarterback to win at least 10 games in each of his first six seasons.

And Carroll can keep his positive record in must-win games going.

Here’s a brief history of Carroll’s “must win” opportunities:

1994 Jets, 6-10

Carroll’s first coaching stint was obviously doomed from the start as he was fired for 10 losses, while Hue Jackson remains alive after 1-30. This is also the only time that Carroll’s team really collapsed in the second half, as the Jets started 6-5 but lost their last five games. Again: Fired for losing five games in a row when it’s your first year on the job. Maybe a reason why the Jets are one of the worst franchises in the NFL.

1997 Patriots, 10-6

The Pats also started 6-5, but Carroll led them to wins in four of their last five games to make the playoffs. They needed to beat the Dolphins in Week 17 to make playoffs/win division, and they did. Needed to beat Miami again in the Wild Card round, and did. They then lost in the divisional round to the Steelers, by just a single point: 7-6.

1998 Patriots, 9-7

They lost in Week 17, but didn’t need to win it to get in. They then lost in the Wild Card, 25-10 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

1999 Patriots, 8-8

New England was too far out of the playoff hunt to have any relevant end-of-season games, but they did win in Week 17, and then Carroll was fired and replaced by Bill Belichick.

USC, 2001-2009

More of a footnote: Carroll’s Trojans won plenty of must-win games, including a 33-week streak as the number one team in the nation, a BCS national championship win, a bowl appearance in all nine seasons, and a 7-2 record in those games. Other than losing in the Las Vegas bowl during his first season with the Trojans, Carroll won every other bowl game except the classic Rose Bowl against Texas and Vince Young; he won four other Rose Bowls.

2010 Seahawks, 7-9

Needed to win Week 17 vs Rams for the division and a playoffs appearance, and they did that. Needed to win a Wild Card game that nobody expected them to win, and did. Lost in the divisional round.

2011 Seahawks, 7-9

They got on a hot streak in the second half before losing their last two games by a total of five points, but going 9-7 would not have gotten them into the playoffs.

2012 Seahawks, 11-5

Won their last five games. A loss in Week 17 would’ve sent them to Green Bay instead of Washington. Won Wild Card game. Then lost in the divisional round, barely.

2013 Seahawks, 13-3

They needed to win in Week 17 to get to 13-3 instead of 12-4. San Francisco was also 12-4 and their 5-1 divisional record would’ve given them the number one seed. Seattle indeed beat the Rams at home in Week 17, 27-9.

They won all their playoff games.


2014 Seahawks, 12-4

Won 9 of last 10 games and needed Week 17 win to stay at 1 seed. If not, would’ve had to go to Green Bay in NFC championship. They won Week 17, divisional round, and the NFC title. Lost in the Super Bowl, barely.

2015 Seahawks, 10-6

Won Week 17 and Wild Card. Got blown out in divisional round before coming back to only lose by a touchdown.

2016 Seahawks, 10-5-1

Won Week 17, which gave them 3 seed instead of 4 seed, hosting Lions instead of the Giants. They won the Wild Card game and then lost in the divisional round to the Falcons, as mentioned before.

2017 Seahawks, 9-6

Won a must-win game against the Cowboys in Dallas.

So what does that make his final record in some of these categories?

Pete Carroll in must-win games: 18-6

Pete Carroll in Week 17: 8-3

Pete Carroll in must-win games with Seattle: 16-4

Pete Carroll in must-win games for Seahawks at home: 10-0

Pete Carroll in must-win games for Seahawks at home: 10-0

Pete Carroll in must-win games for Seahawks at home: 10-0

We’ll see what happens as the Seahawks host the Cardinals on Sunday, but if history is any indication, they have a good opportunity to at least do their part. Then they’d just need the Carolina Panthers to do theirs.

(Ron Rivera has won four of his last five Week 17 games, including two of those wins being in Atlanta. But who’s counting?)