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Seahawks must start faster against Falcons than they have in previous road playoff games

Including last year's loss at Carolina, the Seahawks have been outscored 72-0 in the first half of their three divisional-round road games under coach Pete Carroll, a trend they'll need to end Saturday in Atlanta. (AP)

Pete Carroll is right.

You cannot win a game in the first quarter. Can’t win it in the second quarter, either.

But you can dig yourself a first-half hole that proves to be too big to escape. Seattle has seen that before. A few times, in fact.

It happened that last season when the Seahawks fell behind 31-0 at Carolina in the divisional round of the playoffs. It happened in Russell Wilson’s rookie year, too, when Seattle trailed Atlanta 20-0 at halftime on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs. Then there was 2010, when Seattle was down 21-0 at Chicago the week after that upset of New Orleans.

Sensing a pattern? You should.

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Seattle has played on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs three times under Carroll. The Seahawks have yet to score a point in the first half of any of those games.

So in that regard, it is kind of how you start.

Because there has been no trouble with the finish.

In those three divisional losses on the road, the Seahawks outscored their opponents 52-10 in the fourth quarter. In one instance – the loss in Atlanta four years ago – Seattle even managed to take the lead in the final minute before suffering a loss of the most heartbreaking variety.

The lesson here isn’t that Seattle needs to play better in the second half. It’s that the Seahawks can’t fall so far behind on Saturday when they reach a rung of the playoffs that has proven most slippery not just under Carroll, but under every coach in franchise history.

The Seahawks have played eight divisional playoff games on the road all-time. They’ve lost the last seven of those games, the only victory on the road in this round of the playoffs coming in 1983 when Seattle upset Miami.

So as good as the Seahawks looked in Saturday’s victory over Detroit, they’re going to be running uphill when they go on the road against a rested Falcons team that is playing at home.

In that regard, the schedule should help. A little.

Those last three divisional road losses all began at 10 a.m. Pacific. While Saturday’s game will be played in the Eastern time zone, the start time is 1:30 PST.

Then again, there should be no wake-up call required. Last year’s loss at Carolina should provide a reminder of how important it is to get going early, and if that isn’t enough, all Seattle has to do is remember its last playoff game in Atlanta.