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Originally published Monday, December 19, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Seahawks' second-half success revives season

Left for dead at 2-6, a surge in the second half of the season — and of games — has put 7-7 Seattle on the cusp of the NFL playoffs.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

San Francisco 49ers @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

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Finishing wasn't a question when the Seahawks reached the midway point of this season.

At 2-6, the Seahawks looked finished.

Turns out that was only half the story, and not necessarily the most important half in the mind of coach Pete Carroll.

"It's just exciting to see these guys latch on to the ability to play late in the season, late in the games," Carroll said after Sunday's comeback in Chicago. "To finish games."

This team is getting better as it goes along, a statement that is as true for this team's weekly tendencies as it is for its run of success in the final half of the schedule. Call it growth, call it progress, but this team has shown not just resilience in the face of adversity, but an ability to improve.

Good thing, too, if you remember Seattle's first game, when the Seahawks had 37 yards of total offense at halftime in San Francisco. But the Seahawks came back to make a game of it in the second half, showing an ability to rebound that has become the signature of this team.

It's how Seattle won Sunday's game in Chicago, scoring 31 consecutive second-half points as an impressive comeback became an overwhelming rout. That was just the continuation of a trend. Seattle has been outscored by 46 points in the first half this season, yet has outscored its opponents by 57 points in the second half. The Seahawks gain more yards in the final two quarters, allow fewer and play better by just about every statistical measure.

It isn't entirely intuitive, either, because when Seattle's offense sputters through a first half like it did Sunday in Chicago, it leaves the defense out on the field longer. Sure enough, the Bears held a four-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half.

That hasn't had as big an effect upon Seattle as you might expect, though. The Atlanta Falcons held the ball for 21 of the 30 minutes of the first half at Seattle in Week 4. The Seahawks didn't allow Atlanta to score a touchdown in the second half.

The Browns held the ball for nearly three-quarters of the game in Week 7, when the Seahawks offense finished with a season-low 137 yards. Despite that, the Seahawks never let Cleveland in the end zone.

Improving in the second half is also how Seattle has gone from 2-6 and being mentioned as one of the league's worst teams to being .500 for the first time this year and at the cusp of the playoff chase.

"Since the turn of the season at the halfway point, we made a big declaration that we were going to step ahead and start playing better football," Carroll said. "Now that we're in the midst of the finish of this thing, it is so important to capture how you are going to do that."

The second half may not be the whole story for Seattle's season, but it explains why the Seahawks have kept improving and played their way back into contention in a season that looked finished less than two months ago.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @dannyoneil.

Tale of two halves
The Seahawks have been a different — and better — team in the second halves of games this season:
First

half

OFFENSE Second half
106 Points scored 178
50.1 Rushing yards 53.8
85.4 Passing yards 112.7
135.4 Total yards 166.5
54.2 Completion pct. 63.4
25 Sacks allowed 17
First half DEFENSE Second half
152 Points allowed 121
61.0 Rushing yards 45.3
115.6 Passing yards 105.1
176.6 Total yards 150.4
5 Interceptions 16
11 Sacks 18

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