Running up the score criticism of Pete Carroll, Seahawks is asinine

Seattle beat the slew out of Arizona on Sunday, with the Seahawks posting just the fifth-ever 50-plus point shutout since the merger in their 58-0 white-washing of the Cardinals. And, because America likes stupid storylines, there are a lot of "Did Pete Carroll Run Up the Score?" questions circulating.

That question -- and any criticism of Carroll that stems from it -- is dumb. Carroll didn't run up the score, and he shouldn't be ripped for the outcome.

To begin with, Carroll pulled starters Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The score was 45-0. That should negate any complaints, but it hasn't because people believe he was throwing late with the intent to run up the score.

Secondly, Carroll wanted to get Matt Flynn some action and some throws late. He admitted as much.

"Any of the throws we threw in the fourth quarter, Matt just needed to throw the ball around some," Carroll said Sunday. "We did a little bit of everything. Quick game. A couple naked [bootlegs] to just get him out of the pocket, just to give him a chance to get some time. Hopefully, everyone understands that."

Flynn's the next guy up if Wilson goes down, and he needs some game action. It doesn't exactly hurt to showcase the guy in case someone's interested in a trade, either.

Then there are the actual plays.

On Seattle's first drive with Flynn, they started from the Arizona 25-yard line, picked up one first down and ended up with a field goal. Flynn attempted two passes, on second- and third-and-10, with Robert Turbin running the ball three times.

On their second drive, Leon Washington (the backup to the backup) and Turbin ran the ball four times. Flynn threw once, on a third-and-six, an obvious passing down. Steven Hauschka kicked another field goal.

Seattle began its third drive under Flynn from its nine-yard line, with 14:08 left in the game. Seven minutes and 14 plays later, a Flynn incompletion on fourth-and-23 from Arizona's 33 resulted in a turnover on downs. Seattle ran the ball seven times on that series, got 30 yards in unsportsmanlike conduct/unnecessary roughness penalties from Arizona ("ahem") and attempted six passes. They were also penalized three times for 35 yards.

On their final drive, which began with 5:23 to play (less than two minutes after turning it over on downs!), the Seahawks ran the ball on first and second down to pick up a first down and 34 yards, ran it on first down and second down again, threw a pass on third down with 2:46 remaining and ran it in for a touchdown with 2:37 remaining from the 3-yard line.

Arizona burned up the clock before turning it over on downs at its 31-yard line, allowing Flynn to take a single knee and end the game.

So, in 25 minutes of action, Flynn attempted nine whole passes -- the Seahawks only threw the ball 22 times the whole game! -- and Arizona simply wasn't able to stop Seattle's backups. That's not on Carroll, whose job isn't described as "taking mercy on Ken Whisenhunt and the pitiful Cardinals."

Nope, it's on the Cardinals for not being able to stop anything that Seattle did all day. And any criticism thrown at Carroll and Seattle for the way they played on Sunday is silly and reeks of people searching for a storyline that's not there.

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CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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