Running in the right direction

Posted Dec 6, 2010

The Seahawks produced a season-high 161 rushing yards against the Panthers on Sunday, not to mention two red-zone touchdowns, because they ran the ball more – and with more authority.

Pete Carroll might have labeled the Seahawks’ stunning turnaround in Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers as “mystical,” but there was nothing supernatural about why they suddenly ran the ball better.

“Just sticking with it is what really is the difference,” the Seahawks’ first-year coach said on Monday.

He then shifted the focus to offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and offensive line coach Art Valero.

“I think Jeremy and Artie’s commitment to hammering the football was obvious,” Carroll said. “I think it’s a combination of things, but I do like that the challenge was there to knock them off the football and get our yards when we needed to, and we got that done.”

The numbers support Carroll’s assessment.

The Seahawks rushed for a season-high 161 yards – which was actually their most since going for 170 against the Rams in Week 12 last season. It helped that they ran 31 times, which ties for their second-most rushing attempts this season. It was the fourth time this season that the Seahawks had 30-plus carries, and the fifth time they have cracked triple digits in the run game.

Marshawn Lynch had 83 yards, because he got 21 carries. The only other time he has rushed for more yards as a Seahawks (89 against the Cardinals) he had his season-high in carries (24).

“We fed the Beast,” is the way running back/returner Leon Washington put it, referring to Lynch’s self-described running style – Beast Mode.

Offered Carroll, “Any runner wants to see the looks and you want to get a feel for the line of scrimmage and how things are moving, and then they start to take advantage of what they’re seeing. There’s no question that that happened to Marshawn.”

Justin Forsett continued to do a lot with less, averaging 10 yards on his six carries.

“Justin Forsett was on fire yesterday,” Carroll said. “He had a big role in what was going on, as well as Marshawn. They kind of fit real well together in this game.”

The return of fullback Michael Robinson after missing five games with a strained hamstring also helped, and so did his 14-yard run on his only carry.

“I don’t know what changed, other than we started to get some bigger plays,” Carroll said.

On the 78-yard drive in the fourth quarter to the Seahawks’ fourth touchdown, Robinson had his 14-yarder; Forsett added a 19-yarder and Lynch took it the final 22 for the score.

“I think wearing them down a little bit helped us,” Carroll said. “We stayed with it. We got 31 carries in the game, which is great. It gave us a chance to adjust as the game went on. We’ve had some games where we’ve had way less (carries) than that.

“The running backs got to see the looks a little more. The linemen got to see what they we doing. Just as we went through it, we felt more comfortable coming off the football late in the game.”

Another plus was playing with the same combination on the line in back-to-back games for only the third time this season – left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Mike Gibson, center Chris Spencer, right guard Stacy Andrews and right tackle Sean Locklear.

The linemen broke out their large hammers when the Seahawks got close to the goal line, as Lynch scored twice on 1-yard runs. They scored touchdowns on both their red-zone possessions in the second half. This after getting only four touchdowns in 15 trips inside the oppositions’ 20-yard line in their previous five games – four of them losses.

“It was a great feeling,” Carroll said. “We need to understand that we can do that and do that well. Given the opportunity, we came through. It’s good stuff for us.”