Seahawks still battling for NFC West title late in season

SEATTLE -- There was no reason to celebrate the loss to San Francisco two weeks ago, but Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is quick to point out that not every loss is bad.

Seattle could have clinched the NFC West with a win against the 49ers, but a late field goal lifted San Francisco past the Seahawks 19-17.

A victory that day would have changed everything for the Hawks.

"It would have been an entirely different challenge for us mentally as coaches and players," said Carroll.

That's because a win could have made the Seahawks complacent. If they clinched the division back then, they still would have had three games remaining with no real motivation behind them.

"I'm more concerned about losing the edge we've gained," Carroll said. "It's taken months to get here and all of a sudden you kick into a month mode where it could be different."

Seattle doesn't have to worry about that now, because the 49ers won last weekend. That means the division is still up for grabs late in the season.

"This could be the best scenario," said Carroll. "You have to stay in it and keep battling. This is much more of the same. It's kind of like Groundhog Day all over again. You know, here we go again. There's nothing wrong with that."

San Francisco (10-4) trails Seattle (12-2) by two games with two games remaining, so they lock up the division and the top seed in the conference with a victory against Arizona this weekend.

"We're going to make the most of what we got," said Carroll. "I would have wanted it as soon as we could have won it and then dealt with that challenge, but right now I think we understand clearly what we're trying to get done here."