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Originally published September 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Page modified October 1, 2013 at 10:15 PM

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Overtime victory builds a stronger foundation for Seahawks

Coach Pete Carroll points to two key changes that sparked Seattle’s comeback

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seahawks @ Indianapolis, 10 a.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON – Should they meet their lofty expectations, there will be more important games down the road for the Seahawks.

Contests that come with a more tangible reward than merely another notch in the regular-season win column.

Assuming those days do indeed come this season, though, coach Pete Carroll said he thinks what happened Sunday in Houston will have laid a little bit of the foundation.

Outplayed for almost three quarters, and on the road against a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, Seattle rallied for one of the biggest comebacks in franchise history as it overcame a 17-point deficit to beat the Texans 23-20 in overtime.

And a day later, Carroll still was buzzing about the game. Some might consider his “Always Compete’’ mantra to be corny coach-speak but this win seemed to show that his players truly adhere to the message.

“We’re going to be stronger because of that (win),” Carroll said. “That will help us.’’

Only three times in team history had Seattle rallied from a larger deficit. And it was the first time since Dec. 29, 2002 against San Diego the Seahawks had come back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

The victory also was the ninth in a row in the regular season for the Seahawks, and made them 4-0 for the first time. All that should reinforce a confidence and belief that has been building the past few years.

“To be able to do that on the road, it’s a great effort and that’s what we needed,’’ said quarterback Russell Wilson.

While Carroll surely doesn’t want to tip his hand about specific adjustments the team made to rally, he insisted Monday there was no real magic to the comeback.

“What I was most excited about, and to really see it on the film, is to see the effort and intensity that mounted and grew as the game was going on and as we got further into the game,’’ he said. “I felt our guys were getting better by the time we ended the game.’’

Certainly, there was nowhere to go but up after a first half in which Houston outgained the Seahawks 324-88. It was the second-most yards in a half for the Texans in their 12-year history.

Two obvious keys to the comeback were Seattle mounting a better pass rush in the second half, and Wilson deciding to run, rushing for 74 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“When you look at the end of it, we rushed the passer so much more effectively in the second half,’’ Carroll said. “We didn’t do anything different. We just kept working it and our guys got going and we got heated up and changed the rhythm that they had on their offense.’’

Particularly effective were Chris Clemons, who in his second game since returning from an ACL injury played 61 snaps out of 91 plays, and Clint McDonald, who helped fill in for injured Michael Bennett and played 58 snaps. Each had a sack as Seattle had four after halftime after not getting to Matt Schaub in the first half.

Then there was Wilson, who had rushed for just 3 yards in the first three quarters (and just 54 in the first three games), sparking a 98-yard drive that finally got the Seattle offense jump-started with three runs for 42 yards.

Carroll acknowledged that Houston’s loss of linebacker Brian Cushing in the third quarter to a concussion changed things “a little bit.’’

“The opportunities (to run) were there and I think he (Russell) took advantage of the fact that there were some lanes to get out of,’’ Carroll said. “They were coming hard after him, there were some spaces, and he was well aware of how things were going. We needed his help and he gave it to us.”

That all helped set the stage for the Richard Sherman pick-six that tied the game with 2:51 left, ultimately forcing overtime, where the Seahawks got the victory on Steven Hauschka’s 45-yard field goal with just 3:19 left.

“We needed every aspect of that thing to go the way it went to get us back in that thing because they’re such a good football team,’’ Carroll said. “I think that’s really the clear point to me that we played against a really tough football team that was really ready and that put everything into that game. Their fans were on it, every aspect of it was going and we were able to get out of there.’’

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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