EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Out there in their little corner of the NFL world, Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks like what they are putting together.
The Seahawks were derided, not praised, for winning the weak NFC West a year ago, doing it at 7-9, the first team with a losing record to walk off with a division title. Even after they stunned the then-defending Super Bowl champions, the Saints, in a wild-card playoff game, they were dismissed by many.
That's dangerous business in the NFL, especially when an opponent has that attitude.
Seattle stunned the New York Giants 36-25 Sunday, outplaying the Giants for much of the day and coming up with several big plays from unsung players such as Charlie Whitehurst, Doug Baldwin and Brandon Browner. What the Seahawks showed was the kind of resilience that can be a foundation for a rebuilding franchise.
And with all the wheeling and dealing coming out of the Pacific Northwest since Carroll arrived in 2010, there's no question they are rebuilding.
Carroll is encouraged; wins like this one can do that for a coach.
"Most of it was heartfelt because we've been hanging tough," Carroll said. "We haven't met our expectations, but we haven't backed off. We continue to hold to the standards up there no matter what they're saying on the outside or what they think about us. We've hung together and that allows you this kind of effort.
"Two-and-three doesn't mean anything to anybody else, but I don't care. To us, we're growing. We're coming along."
They really began coming along last week when a late rally fell short against Atlanta. Against another formidable NFC foe, the Seahawks finished what they started.
"This sends out a memo to the rest of the league that you've got to play 60 minutes against the Seattle Seahawks," defensive end Anthony Hargrove said. The seven-year veteran's surge through the offensive line and tackle on running back Danny Ware gave Seattle a safety in the third quarter. "We're growing as a team and we're not a team you can't be ready for."
Seattle is a team almost devoid of stars. Its best players — running back Marshawn Lynch, safety Earl Thomas, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, tight end Zach Miller — hardly are household names. That doesn't bother Carroll a bit.
Instead, he seeks players who never back down. In a way, Carroll prefers those types, which is somewhat ironic considering all the All-Americans he had while dominating college football at Southern California.
"The leadership in the locker room carried over through this week, staying the course at halftime, too," Carroll said, noting how the Seahawks should have been in front, not tied 14-14. "It's a credit to those guys. We weren't going to be discouraged by what had happened. We were just going to get out there and keep playing football and we thought we could win.
"Our energy was there, our juice was there. Feeding off of one another was really apparent on the sidelines and throughout the whole game. When we needed it most we were able to come up with it and make plays."
The key plays came from Baldwin, an undrafted free agent from Stanford who has become Seattle's leading receiver, and Browner, who spent the last four years in Canada. Carroll credits general manager John Schneider with finding those players, but it's Carroll who has to get the most out of them.
Baldwin had eight receptions for 136 yards and a 27-yard catch that put Seattle ahead to stay. Browner took a tipped interception 94 yards for the clinching score.
"Maybe New York thought it would be an easier win, but in the NFL there are no easy wins," Baldwin said. "It feels good because we are going in the right direction."
That direction probably won't land the Seahawks in Indianapolis in February. But it could keep the NFC West competitive, despite San Francisco's early success.
Regardless, Carroll is convinced the Seahawks' attitude has them on the right path.
"We believe in these guys because they deserve it," he said. "And we hope they'll give us more thrills like this."