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On it, from start to finish
Short week? No problem. Emotional malaise? No way. Marshawn Lynch? The Eagles had no answer. The Seahawks’ defense? Vince Young had no chance.
Put it all together, and it created what many of the players said was the Seahawks’ most-complete game of the season: a 31-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a nationally televised game at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night.
Lynch was at his Beast Mode-running, Skittle-craving best, rushing for a season-high 148 yards and two touchdowns – one where he flaunted his hard-driving, keep-your-feet-moving style on a 15-yarder for the Seahawks’ first score; the other where he flashed his deceptive speed by getting to the edge and then outrunning everyone to the end zone on a 40-yarder for the score that made it 14-0.
“The offensive line played a helluva game. Tarvaris (Jackson) did a helluva job managing the game. We came out victorious. Everybody’s happy,” Lynch said before beating a hasty exit from the locker room.
Short, but sweet – and also accurate.
Tarvaris Jackson completed 13 of 16 passes for 190 yards in fashioning a 137.0 passer rating that was a career-best for games in which he attempted more than 15 passes. Jackson threw an 11-yard TD pass to Golden Tate, who got the first start of his NFL career because Sidney Rice was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Even more importantly, Jackson did not throw an interception after being picked off six times in the past four games.
“I thought that T-Jack did a nice job tonight,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Other than throwing the ball away a couple of times, he was on it. He managed it beautifully.”
The best thing Jackson did was hand the ball to Lynch and allow him to run behind the ever-improving offensive line – left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Robert Gallery, center Max Unger, right guard Paul McQuistan, right tackle Breno Giacomini and tight ends Cameron Morrah and Zach Miller.
“The guys up front, this was really a night for the offensive line,” Carroll said. “The line blocked really well the whole time.”
Not to be outdone, the defensive intercepted Vince Young four times. Middle linebacker David Hawthorne returned one 77 yards for a touchdown; cornerback Brandon Browner had two, including one that set up Jackson’s TD pass to Tate; and strong safety Kam Chancellor had the first one that set up Lunch’s first TD.
“The defense did a great job,” Jackson said through a large smile after the complete-game performance. “We have this thing called ‘Turnover Thursday,’ and today is Thursday. And the defense had four turnovers, and we had none. That was big for us.”
Added Chancellor, “We kind of felt Vince would throw it up to us a lot. He likes to take chances. So we knew if we were in position and played our defense we knew we were capable of getting some picks.”
The Seahawks’ four interceptions were their most in game since getting five in a game against the Eagles in Philadelphia on Dec. 2, 2007; while the Eagles have now thrown a league-high 29.
This game wasn’t without its anxious moments, however. After the Seahawks took a 17-7 lead late in the second quarter on a 49-yard field by Steve Hauschka, thoughts of Sunday’s game crept into their psyche – because they also had a 17-7 lead in that game, only to lose 23-17 as the Redskins scored 16 points in the final 10 minutes.
“It popped in my head as soon as we got up,” Jackson said. “First thing that popped into my head was make sure I go tell the guys, ‘Let’s not let this happen again. Let’s learn from it. Let’s finish the game.’ ”
From Jackson’s lips to Browner’s hands, as he intercepted Young on the seventh play of the second half and returned it 55 yards to set up the Jackson-to-Tate TD that made it 24-7.
“This was a big game for our defense. A big game,” Browner said. “I’m proud of us guys.”
But the defense wasn’t ready to rest just yet. After Young flipped a shovel pass to LeSean McCoy for a 2-yard TD on the fourth play of the fourth quarter and the Seahawks punted on the ensuing series, the Eagles reached the Seahawks’ 22-yard line before Hawthorne intercepted Young’s short pass that was intended for McCoy and took it to the end zone – 77 yards away.
“It was definitely the longest run I ever imagined myself running,” Hawthorne said. “Usually in my dreams, I get them right around 20 and I take them him. But that was a long one. I could never be a kick returner. I would quit.”
But the conversation in the locker room kept coming back to you-know-who, as Lynch has run for more yards (591) than any back in the league the past five games and also has scored TDs in his past eight games to tie the second-longest streak in club history.
“It’s unbelievable, man,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “He blows my mind every time we step on the field. We made a commitment to run the ball a few weeks ago, and he’s running that thing. He’s doing an awesome job.”
Added Chancellor, “Just watching on the sideline, I felt sorry for the defensive guys out there playing against him. I mean, he’s running hard; powerful. He doesn’t go down with one tackle. He’s breaking tackles. You can’t ask for more from a back.”
All this four days after the disappointing loss to the Redskins. All this with a short week to prepare for everything the Eagles can throw at you. All this with most of the NFL Nation expecting the Eagles to win.
“What we did tonight says a lot about this team,” Browner said. “We’re revering, you know what I mean? Because I felt really bad (Sunday). I felt like I lost the game for us. So it was good to get the ‘W’ and play the way I did.
“I’m happy. I’m happy for my teammates, and I’m happy for myself.”