SEATTLE -- Inside a quiet and perhaps stunned Seattle Seahawks locker room Sunday night, players gave the expected answers about where they go from here after suffering their most lopsided defeat of the Pete Carroll era, a 42-7 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. Moving on and bouncing back were the themes.
Carroll did the same.
"We're going to start talking about Dallas tomorrow," he said, referring to Seattle's next opponent. "We have a big game coming up and we have to go ahead and finish this thing. There's all kinds of opportunities for us; we just have to make sure we don't let what just happened affect what's coming up. We talked about controlling what we can control. That's what this is all about. We have to get going."
But here's the thing: The Seahawks can control only so much after a Sunday in which their playoff chances took a massive hit. They no longer control their own postseason destiny, and for the first time since 2011, Seattle is staring at the possibility of missing the playoffs entirely.
Actually, it's more of a likelihood at this point. Heading into Sunday, ESPN's Football Power Index had the Seahawks' chances of reaching the postseason at 27 percent with a loss to the Rams. Even that seems high given the situation Seattle is now facing.
The Seahawks (8-6) fell two games behind the Rams (10-4), who have all but locked up the NFC West title with two games left. The only way Seattle could still repeat as division champions would be to win out (at Dallas, vs. Arizona) and have the Rams lose out (at Tennessee, vs. San Francisco). That's not an impossible scenario, but it's highly unlikely.
At 10-4, Carolina has control of the first wild-card spot. Atlanta, 8-5 heading into its Monday night game at Tampa Bay, currently holds the second. The Falcons have a tie-breaker over the Seahawks as does Detroit, which is also 8-6.
So the Seahawks will need to win out and get quite a bit of help in order to make it back to the postseason for the sixth straight year. With a banged-up defense and two straight losses, including an inexplicably bad one Sunday, the first part of that equation is anything but a given.
"This is the only game you've ever seen us play like this," Carroll said.
Afterward, Bobby Wagner shot back on Twitter at Earl Thomas over his contention that Wagner shouldn't have been playing on an bad hamstring that was clearly affecting him. Wagner deleted the tweet not long after he posted it. Nonetheless, the comments will fuel the notion that the Seahawks might be coming unraveled at the worst possible time.
Their fortunes have changed quickly and decidedly.
After they notched their most impressive victory of the season against an Eagles team that had the league's best record, it felt like the Seahawks could be on the verge of another late run like those that have propelled them to six playoff appearances in seven seasons under Carroll.
Even after losing last week to Jacksonville, the Seahawks had a shot to take control of the division lead against the Rams. But in their biggest game of the season, they laid their biggest egg in years.
Declaring this the end of an era for the Seahawks would be premature, but it feels like it could be.
"What's really important -- and I know that you're not going to want to go with me on this one -- but what's really important is that we realize that we have two games to play here with a lot at stake and a lot that we have to turn toward," Carroll said. "We'll try to get this thing going as soon as we can and see if we can leave this kind of experience behind us.
"You've been with me for a long time, and we haven't seen that before. We're going to crank it up and get going again."