SEATTLE — The chatter broke through all the barriers the Seattle Seahawks tried to put up.
The noise coming from the outside about their issues was adding to a rare two-game losing streak for a team that supposedly impervious to those problems.
And then relief arrived in the form of last week's late comeback victory over Carolina and the opportunity at returning to what's become “normal” for the Seahawks.
“When you're losing and coach is on you … that can put a little pressure on you,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. “When you finally get that win, everybody gets relieved and gets back to normal and just know that we're a good football team and start stacking these wins on top of each other.”
Normal for the Seahawks (4-3) would be keeping Oakland (0-7) winless when the former AFC West foes meet Sunday. The Seahawks play their next two games at home and any wiggle room Seattle had is gone.
Seattle is two games behind Arizona in the NFC West and aware of what lies ahead. After hosting the Raiders and New York Giants, Seattle begins a brutal six-week stretch including four games against Arizona and San Francisco.
Seattle is in no position to overlook anyone and only needs to think back almost one-year to the day for a reminder. Equally winless Tampa Bay made a visit to Seattle last November and jumped out to a 21-0 lead. The Seahawks rallied in the second half to force overtime and won 27-24 on Steven Hauschka's 27-yard field goal.
It's been referenced by many this week.
“That example has been a really big example for us,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Oakland's hopes ride with the continued growth of rookie QB Derek Carr, coming off a career-high 328 yards passing last week against Cleveland.
The Raiders have been competitive most of the season, but when one problem gets fixed another pops up. Last week, the Raiders were able to get off the field on third downs defensively, only to commit three turnovers.
“The frustration of the team is that we work hard, we work hard at practice, and we see ourselves getting better over the last three weeks. But we don't have the validation of our work right now by getting a win,” interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano said.
Here are other things to watch as the Seahawks and Raiders meet in the regular season for the first time since 2010:
CARR RIDE: While there is little to be taken from a preseason start, Carr did have success against Seattle once this year already. In the final week of the preseason, Carr threw for three touchdowns and led the Raiders to touchdowns on their first four possessions against Seattle.
The regular season has been far bumpier. Oakland's lack of a run game — ranking 32nd in the NFL — has not helped take any relief off Carr having to carry the offense. He's not shying away from the challenge of playing in Seattle.
“Obviously, they say this place is the loudest, so I'm actually excited to hear it and be a part of it,” Carr said.
STRONGER START: Russell Wilson and Seattle's offense are taking too long to get started. In the past three games, Seattle has scored nine first-half points on offense.
Against Carolina, the Seahawks didn't get their initial first down until their third drive and finished the first half with only 24 offensive plays and three points.
LINEBACKER SHUFFLE: Seattle is expected to shuffle its linebackers with rookie Brock Coyle likely to start in the middle and K.J. Wright moving back to the outside. Wright had started the past two games in the middle with Bobby Wagner out with a toe injury. Now it's Coyle's turn in the middle. Fellow rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis is expected to get snaps at outside linebacker after playing well against Carolina.
MACK ATTACK: For as well as rookie Khalil Mack has played so far, he's still looking for his first NFL sack. One of Mack's strengths coming out of college was his ability to get to the quarterback. Mack had 28½ sacks at Buffalo, but Oakland's pass rush problem isn't isolated to Mack. The Raiders have just seven sacks.
NEEDING A BOOM: Seattle's vaunted secondary got just its third interception last week, but All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are still shut out. Through seven games last season, Sherman and Thomas had combined for seven interceptions. They should get a chance this week after Carr attempted 54 passes against Cleveland.