Pete Carroll's milestone win has Seahawks off to promising start

PITTSBURGH -- With Pete Carroll at his side and the rest of the team gathered around him, Russell Wilson stood in the middle of a raucous visitors locker room inside Heinz Field, minutes after his Seattle Seahawks had improved to 2-0 by escaping with a 28-26 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He held the game ball in his hands, ready to give it to Carroll in celebration of his milestone victory -- his 100th with the Seahawks, counting regular season and playoffs.

But before Wilson mentioned that feat, he made note of another reason why this was a special day for Carroll. He had no sooner told the team that it was the coach's 68th birthday than several players began mobbing Carroll, dousing him with water and Gatorade.

Carroll's hair and shirt were still soaked as he answered questions from reporters, including one who asked him if wins like this help him keep his youthful exuberance.

"I don't need games like this to keep my youthful exuberance," a smiling Carroll said. "But I'll tell you, I love games like this."

Carroll's milestone win was similar to the Seahawks' season-opening victory and so many others they've had in his tenure, which is to say they overcame a less-than-ideal start and a whole lot of self-inflicted wounds.

The Seahawks committed 10 penalties Sunday, not counting a few more that were declined or offset. They gave up four first-half sacks of Wilson, necessitating a shift to a quick passing attack that got the ball out of his hands before the pass rush could get to him. They came out on the losing end of the turnover battle thanks to a pair of lost fumbles, including one late in the fourth quarter that set up an easy Pittsburgh touchdown when the Seahawks were trying to run out the clock with their four-minute offense.

They eventually did run out the clock after getting the ball back following Pittsburgh's score, but they had to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Steelers' 33-yard line first.

If teams take on the personality of their head coach, then maybe there was a reason why -- to a man -- every player asked about that fourth-down play had zero doubt that Chris Carson would convert it.

"He's the same, man," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said when asked about Carroll's demeanor in those hectic moments. "He's very, very positive. And I think you feed off positivity. No matter how high, how low you are, he remains the same. He has the same energy. The way he came in before the game, it's an early-morning game for us -- 10 o'clock, our body-wise -- but he wasn't going to let that affect us. Came in, had music blasting, jumping around and we had our energy right for this game and it showed."

Wagner was right in the middle of Carroll's victory shower, spraying the NFL's oldest coach with water in a scene shared on the team's Twitter account. According to the Seahawks, only four other active head coaches have 100 combined wins with their current club (Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh and Carroll's Sunday counterpart, Mike Tomlin).

"We just wanted to show him that we were thinking about him and we understand how much work he puts in to help us kind of get to where we want to be," Wagner said. "If you watch him and see he's 68 years old, he doesn't look it one bit. He does not move around like that one bit. He actually hit me on the sideline a little bit, kind of felt a little power. So he doesn't act 68."

The Seahawks have made the playoffs twice under Carroll after starting 0-2, including last season. The only other time they've started 2-0 before this season? In 2013, when they won the only Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

To be sure, no team can expect to keep winning despite making the types of mistakes the Seahawks have overcome in their first two games. On Sunday, they caught a big break when an injury sidelined Ben Roethlisberger for the entire second half.

But here's what matters most: they're 2-0 with a great chance to get to 3-0 next week at home against the New Orleans Saints, who are dealing with an injury to their own quarterback, Drew Brees.

How does 2-0 feel, birthday boy?

"A lot better than last year," Carroll said. "A lot better than last year, I'll tell you that. It's great to be 2-0 and have gone on the road in a place like this against a quarterback and a team like that."