It's hard to pin down why the Seahawks struggled early this season, but it's no surprise they are now playing arguably better than any of Pete Carroll's Seattle squads.

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BALTIMORE — The question hovering around the Seahawks the past few weeks has been whether they are back. It is an understandable sentiment, but let me spin it in a different way: Did the Seahawks ever really go anywhere?

I’m not saying the Seahawks didn’t struggle earlier this season, or that today’s version of the Seahawks was so clearly in sight when they were 2-4 or 4-5. The Seahawks did struggle, and they didn’t look very good doing so.

My point is that this team, actually, is remarkably consistent with what coach Pete Carroll’s teams have done in Seattle.

Here’s what I mean. Since 2012, Carroll’s third year in Seattle, the Seahawks are 26-5 in November and December. So Carroll’s teams have won 84 percent of their games to close the regular season in the past four years.

In that same window, his teams are 18-12 in September and October, which means they have won 58 percent of their games in the first half of the season. That’s a solid but unspectacular win percentage that might get the Seahawks in the playoffs.

And it’s even more unspectacular when you remove the 2013 season, the year the Seahawks were a clear juggernaut. In 2012, 2014 and this season combined, Carroll’s teams are 11-11 in September and October.

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So what’s the reason behind it? Carroll always has put a premium on finishing, whether that means games or seasons. He wants his teams playing their best by the end. But that seems too simple to me.

My overly simplistic guess would include two things.

First, Carroll is by all accounts incredibly consistent. Players swear he never changes, that his publicly optimistic face is the same one he puts on in tough times. That keeps players from thinking the roof is caving in, and in the long run, I bet that consistency pays off.

Second, and probably most important, Carroll seems to be a master technician. He and his staff have shown they can find the heart of the problem, pull out all of their tools and make the necessary repairs. Sometimes that takes longer than other seasons, but Carroll always seems to get it right.

The Seattle defense was pretty consistent this season, but the offense needed tinkering. The offensive line struggled, and Wilson was inconsistent, and the offense couldn’t convert on third down or in the red zone. All were looming problems.

And now?

What has come out of that tinkering, ever since the bye in Week 9, is a group that has never played better under Carroll.

Quarterback Russell Wilson could make a late push for the NFL MVP award. Receiver Doug Baldwin could be a Pro Bowler. And before he was injured Sunday, rookie running back Thomas Rawls led the NFL in yards per carry.

It’s hard to pin down why this all happened, but the fact that it has happened shouldn’t be surprising. Not at this point. The Seahawks are back, but maybe they never really went anywhere.

Closing strong

Here’s a breakdown of the Seahawks’ early- and late-season records the past four years under Pete Carroll:

September/October

2015: 3-4

2014: 4-3

2013: 7-1

2012: 4-4

Total: 18-12 (excluding 2013: 11-11)

November/December

2015: 5-1

2014: 8-1

2013: 6-2

2012: 7-1

Total: 26-5