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Seahawks HC Pete Carroll
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Carroll: Seahawks winning with defensive backups ‘a good statement’

The Seahawks were missing most of their defensive starters against the Panthers. (Getty)

The Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers 30-24 to capture their 11th win of the season, and while the offense was notable for its big plays, the defense was a huge story because of how many starters were out with injuries.

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Four defensive starters – defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and linebacker Mychal Kendricks – were inactive for Seattle. Two more starters would eventually join them in the sidelines,  as both linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Quandre Diggs left the game with ankle injuries.

At one point, more than half of the Seahawks’ on-field defense were backup players.

Rookie defensive back Ugo Amadi played the most he has on defense this season, as did rookie defensive end L.J. Collier. Shaquem Griffin was again used in pass-rush situations, and Akeem King started in place of Shaquill Griffin.

“There’s a number of guys who played for us,” head coach Pete Carroll said in his post-game press conference. “There was a time in the fourth quarter where we had six guys out there who are not starters going into the end of these games and that’s fantastic for those guys to get some play time.”

Starting for Kendricks was Cody Barton, a rookie third-round pick. He had 10 tackles in his second career start, and he slid over to middle linebacker after Wagner went out. He was then the one running the defense on the field.

“Cody’s calling the shots and (fellow rookie linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven) is right next to him and he’s got guys (like Shaquill Griffin talking to him on the sidelines),” Carroll said. “We had all kinds of new guys out there so it’s a good statement for us going forward. We’re going to need those guys down the stretch and it makes us stronger.”

Carroll said Wagner has an ankle sprain and was cleared to re-enter the game, but they decided to hold him out. Diggs also sprained an ankle, which Carroll said was “more serious” than Wagner’s.

“That would be a big loss if we can’t get him back next week. He’s been playing great football for us,” Carroll said.

Despite missing so many players on defense, the team made enough plays on both sides of the ball to win. Carroll said that should be a big confidence boost.

“I think it’s a great statement for us to go out and win a football game with the other guys playing for us,” he said. “We’re really proud of those guys so it’s great for us. … Everybody plays on our team and they’re going to have to, so hopefully we’ll get better by (those guys playing).

King, who has played at the nickel cornerback spot, played on the outside in place of Griffin opposite starter Tre Flowers. Carroll was happy with his play.

“He really didn’t have many chances out there. It felt like everything was out there underneath and we zoned up a bunch of stuff and took care of it,” Carroll said. “But he did a nice job to get through the game. I’m proud of him.”

Clowney has been dealing with a core injury for the last few weeks and recently got sick. Carroll said during practice this week, Clowney was vomiting and they decided he was too sick to travel.

Kendricks has a good chance to play next week, as does Ansah. With Griffin, they need to see how he can run on his injured hamstring and likely won’t know his status for next Sunday until later this week.

On offense, tight end Luke Willson was out for the fourth game in a row, but Carroll said he has “looked phenomenal” and will play next week “for sure.”

Follow’s Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

Carroll’s update on defense | Instant Reaction | O’Neil’s column | 3 stars