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Monday metatarsal musings
Of all the numbing numbers the Seahawks put up on Sunday afternoon, the one that sticks out most is also the most obvious: 58.
Scoring a franchise-record number of points, and also shutting out the opposition, will do that. But there was another number from the rout of the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field that deserves some additional attention: 284.
The Seahawks ran roughshod over the Cardinals’ No. 7-ranked defense, a unit that had allowed the Seahawks 115 rushing yards and a 3.5-yard average in the Cardinals’ season-opening 20-16 victory in Arizona.
There was the usual suspect, of course, as Marshawn Lynch ran for 128 yards on only 11 carries – for a franchise-record 11.6-yard average – and three touchdowns. But rookie Robert Turbin added 108 on 20 carries, not only career bests in both categories but almost half as many carries as he had in the first 12 games combined (45). And then there was Leon Washington, who gained 38 yards on seven carries – the most he’s had since the finale against the Cardinals last season; and you have to go all the way back to 2009, when he was playing with the New York Jets, to find a game when he had more carries.
But it all together and you’ve got the fourth-highest rushing total in franchise history and the most since the franchise-record total of 320 against the Houston Texans in 2005.
Anytime the Seahawks do anything that is remotely similar to something the ’05 team accomplished is a definite step in the right direction. Just as that ’05 team making a run to the first Super Bowl in franchise history was chasing the ghosts of the 1984 team, this collection of Seahawks is striving to match or surpass what the ’05 team was able to do.
And averaging 6.8 yards per carry, and getting contributions from three backs, is doing just that.
“I mean, the system works. You know, the system works,” fullback Michael Robinson said in the smile factory that was the Seahawks’ locker room after they had run their overall record to 8-5 and their home record to 6-0.
“It was awesome. Marshawn has been through this before. But to see Turbin’s face, knowing that he had 100 yards – his first 100-yard game – it was definitely gratifying to see that. The kid works so hard. So it’s good to see hard work paying off for him.”
Of the 5-foot-8, 203-pound Washington, Robinson offered, “And then people look at Leon as ‘just’ a returner, but the kid can run the ball. He runs like he’s a big dude.”
While the backs gained all those yards, the line obviously did its part. And it wasn’t just the starting unit – left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, center Max Unger, right guard John Moffitt and right tackle Breno Giacomini. Backups Frank Omiyale, J.R. Sweezy and Lemuel Jeanpierre also got into the act in the second half, when the Seahawks ran for 122 yards in the third quarter and 60 in the fourth quarter.
“That’s all because of the guys up front. They really came off the ball in great fashion,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That’s been a defense that has been troublesome for us. To look at where we were the first game and how we played them this time, we played much better. They kept throwing stuff at us and we picked things up really well.”
Lynch had a very un-Lynch type of day. First, he had his fewest carries since Week 4 last season – in part because his back acted up in the first half; in part because this one got out of control so quickly. Also, a back who has earned his reputation by breaking tackles and carrying tacklers was not touched on his 20-yard TD run, as he bounced it outside; or his 33-yarder, because he hurdled a would-be tackler at the line of scrimmage. Just to prove it really was the Beast Mode back in that No. 24 jersey, Lynch carried 300-pound defensive tackle David Carter on his back as he scored on a 4-yard run.
“Pretty average day for him,” Robinson cracked. “We joked around on the sideline. I told him, ‘Man, if we were Minnesota we probably would have fed you the ball 40 times and got you 500 yards.’ ”
Lynch will have to settle for a franchise record for average yards per carry, three TDs to match his career high and pushing his season total to 1,266 rushing yards – surpassing his career-best total from last season (1,204) with three games left.
“I’m just happy for him, and happy that things went our way today,” Robinson said.
With that said, here’s a look at three other things that worked against the Cardinals and two things that need work as the Seahawks prepare for their final road game of the regular-season – Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto:
The defense – Pitching a shutout in the NFL is a big deal, regardless of the opponent or the circumstances. The Cardinals had only 154 yards. After their opening drive, that ended at the Seahawks’ 37-yard line when middle linebacker Bobby Wagner made the first of his two interceptions, the Cardinals moved into Seattle territory only three times in their remaining dozen possessions – the 48, only to lose a fumble; the 45, only to have a pass intercepted; and the 39, only to end up punting the ball.
The leader of the pack was cornerback Richard Sherman, who returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and also recovered a fumble.
“It was unbelievable,” Sherman said. “It was a total team effort. Guys were playing out of their minds.”
The special teams – They also scored a touchdown, as Malcolm Smith plucked a muffed punt out of the air while striding into the end zone. Steven Hauschka kicked himself sore, with three field goals, seven PATs and 11 kickoffs. Washington had a 26-yard punt return. Heath Farwell had three coverage tackles, while Byron Maxwell had two and forced and recovered a fumble.
“All three phases gave us a great chance to have a heckuva day,” Carroll said.
The No. 2 tight end – The first receiver to have a 100-yard day for the Seahawks this season? It was Anthony McCoy, and his 105 yards came on only three receptions. McCoy had a 21-yarder off a screen on the 11-play, 85-yard drive to Lynch’s first TD. He then added a 67-yarder that was 26 yards pass and 41 yards run after the catch on the three-play, 73-yard drive to Lynch’s second TD. He also had a 17-yarder in the fourth quarter.
“The coaches told me this week that I was probably going to have a little more opportunity to make some plays,” said McCoy, who had 13 catches for 131 yards in the first 12 games. “When the quarterback put the ball in my hands, that was my job to do something with it.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Penalties – Just when Carroll thought his team had this problem under control, the Seahawks were flagged 10 times for 97 wrong-way yards against the Cardinals. It was their most yardage since being penalized 14 times for 114 yards in Week 3 B.R.R.R. – Before the Return of the Real Refs.
“We did have a bunch of penalties,” Carroll said. “It was crazy stuff that happened. … Other than that, that was really the only thing that we didn’t get done today.”
Taking this show on the road – Yes, they were able to outlast the Bears in Chicago two weeks ago, but they’re still 2-5 away from CenturyLink Field. As Carroll emphasized to his players after the game, and the player then repeated to reporters in the locker room, losing to the Bills would knock some of the luster off the back-to-back wins over the Bears and Cardinals.
“We can’t dwell on this victory too much,” McCoy said. “It was a really good team win. We’ve got to have fun with this tonight, but Monday we’ve got to get back on it.”
Only two things to work on? Hey, you saw the game. Read