Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, right, is tackled by Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Paris Lenon (51) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Tempe, Ariz.

RENTON, Wash. — Even though he just concluded his fifth NFL season, Marshawn Lynch said he grew up and became a pro in 2011.

The same could be said about much of the Seattle Seahawks' youth-based roster, and is the big reason why even after another losing season there is actually some optimism about Seattle's future.

Seattle dropped its final two games of the regular season to finish 7-9 after losing 23-20 to Arizona on Sunday. But before the season-ending losses to San Francisco and the Cardinals, the Seahawks ran off five wins in six games to climb back into the NFC playoff picture after a dismal 2-6 start. The Seahawks went from midseason jokes to late-season contenders thanks to the legs of Lynch and a stout young defense.