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Tuesday metatarsal musings
The big concern entering Monday night’s game against the St. Louis Rams was whether the Seahawks’ offensive line would be able to hold up its end – and on the ends – with three starters out with season-ending injuries.
After the Seahawks rushed for 100-plus in a sixth consecutive game for the first time since 2002-03, the concerns were calmed by the constant patter of Marshawn Lynch’s always-moving feet. Give this guy an inch, and he’ll get you several yards. Get him a yard, and just stand back and watch the fun begin.
Lynch, in turns, goes out of his way to give it up for his linemen – whoever they might be in any give snap.
“Like I tell you every time, I see those guys come in every week and they strain themselves,” Lynch said. “They put it upon themselves to make sure that they know what they’ve got going on and what they need to be doing.
“They do things like when we have a lift day at 7 o’clock, they’ll go in early to get their lift in so they can go up and watch film together. It’s a thing where we’re just growing.”
And those supplying the blocks against the Rams were not the usual suspects. The tackle spots are now manned by Breno Giacomini, who is filling in for first-round draft choice James Carpenter on the right side; and Paul McQuistan, who is subbing for Russell Okung, a first-round pick last year, on the left side. At right guard, where McQuistan had been playing for rookie John Moffitt, there’s now Lemuel Jeanpierre.
And after left guard Robert Gallery went out with a hip injury in the fourth quarter, McQuistan slide over and was replaced at tackle by Jarriel King on the drive that ended with Lynch’s 16-yard touchdown run.
“We’re just kind of filling in,” said Max Unger, who has been a rock at center in the sea of seemingly endless change on either side of him. “It’s still the same group that we’ve had for the most part since (training) camp.”
It’s just that the line has reached the bottom of the depth they entered the season with, and still are getting the job done. The players give ample credit to Tom Cable, the offensive line coach.
“Coach Cable and our offensive coaches prepare us like we could be in there at any time,” Jeanpierre said. “Coach Cable always talks about being a professional, and being a professional is not only practicing hard in our individual drills, it’s preparing in the playbook and everything like that.
“You watch us in practice; we’ve still got the same tempo we had in camp. Coach Cable’s motto is, ‘You take the hill.’ So you just take the hill and try to get better every day.”
With that said, here’s a look at three other things that worked against the Rams and three things that need work this week as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s game in Chicago against a Bears defense that ranks 10th against the run:
Doug Baldwin – Make that worked, and worked, and worked. The rookie free agent from Stanford led a dominating effort by the special teams in the first quarter, then returned to his usual role as slot receiver supreme.
After breaking a 37-yard return on the opening kickoff on reverse, Baldwin downed Jon Ryan’s first punt by catching it at the 6-yard line, which led to his blocked punt that Michael Robinson returned for a touchdown. All in the first five minutes.
Then Baldwin the receiver took over, as he had seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. In the second half, five of his six receptions produced first downs; five came on scoring drives; and two came on third downs.
“He’s just a terrific competitor and we’re just thrilled about him,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Lynch – Make that continued to work. A touchdown in his ninth consecutive game, tying Shaun Alexander’s franchise record that was set in 2005. Another 100-yard rushing effort (115), giving him five in the past six games. Only 31 yards from becoming the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Alexander in ’05.
And again, the team’s Skittle-back saved his best for last, just like a little kid with a big bag of Halloween candy: seven carries for 39 yards in the third quarter and seven for 48 in the fourth; after gaining 28 yards on nine carries in the first half.
“Marshawn is really maturing,” Unger said. “You see how hard he runs the ball, and that just makes the rest of us want to go that much harder.”
Goal-line defense – Yes, they gave up a rushing TD to Steven Jackson and a field goal to Josh Brown. But on 10 snaps in goal-to-goal situations, the Rams gained 1 yard – Jackson’s TD.
“That’s our pride,” defensive end Chris Clemons said. “That’s where we hold on to the goal line and our motto is, ‘Don’t let them in.’ Give us an inch and we’ll cover it. That was our main objective there.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Richard Sherman’s exuberance – The rookie cornerback not only plays with emotion, it stokes his play. But he crossed the line by yelling in the face of Danario Alexander after the Rams receiver could not handle a third-and-goal pass in the end zone. The taunting penalty gave the Rams another first-and-goal situation, and Jackson scored three plays later.
“The thing in the end zone, that’s a dumb play,” Carroll said. “That’s not us and that’s not what should happen. But making plays and mistakes they’re making because they’re aggressive, that’s different than yapping at somebody after a play. That we want cleaned up.”
Penalties – After a one-game hiatus (five for 30 yards against the Eagles), the Seahawks slipped into their old ways by losing 61 yards on nine penalties against the Rams. They now have 119 for 905 yards in 13 games. The franchise records are 128 for 1,179 in 1984.
Getting the offense to start faster – Another recurrent theme in this season. Against the Rams, the Seahawks had 129 yards and three points in the first half. In the second half, it was 230 yards and 20 points.