Ever since he returned to Seattle late last season, one of Christine Michael's biggest goals has been to show the consistency that he lacked in his first stint with the Seahawks, leading to him being traded to Dallas before the start of the 2015 season.
"Just trying to stack good days, man, trying to be complete as much as possible," the Seahawks running back said.
On Sunday, Michael added the best day of his NFL career to that stack of good days, adding another impressive chapter to one of the more unlikely stories on Seattle's roster. From second-round pick to Seahawks castoff to being released by two more teams last season, Michael has emerged this season as one of Seattle's best and most consistent offensive weapons.
And with Thomas Rawls sidelined by a shin injury Sunday, Michael had the biggest workload of his career, and responded by gaining a career-high 106 yards on 20 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown—the first of his career—on his first carry to set the tone in a 37-18 victory over the 49ers.
"This is a really good story," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "This is the story about a young guy where it just didn't work out the first time around. He's come back, and he's applied himself beautifully. He's been energetic, he's been a great practice guy in terms of his habits and the mode that he's attacked his preparation. He's been a wonderful kid. He just grew up. It's just an illustration. I hope all coaches pay attention to this. It's a great illustration of if you stay with a guy, and you keep giving him the chance, they have a chance to change, and to get right and all that. And he did that. I don't see any looking back at all. I don't see how anyone can look over his shoulder, about he may not be a great kid. He's on it. He has matured, he has gotten his life in order, and he's playing great football for his team, so I'm really excited for that."
Michael's big game wasn't just significant because it was another milestone in his career revival, but also because the Seahawks were stressing the run game this week after struggling to get the ground game going in their first two games.
"We just play our best when we're able to run the ball," Michael said. "It opens up so much stuff—play action, deep balls down field. We've all just got to be on one page. It felt good."
Michael's teammates knew from the day he arrived in Seattle in 2013 that he had the physical tools to be this kind of player, and since he returned to the team last December a much more mature person and player, they knew games like Sunday's were possible.
"We always knew he had it in him," receiver Doug Baldwin said. "Sometimes you have to evolve with the offense, evolve with yourself as you get older. He has made the best of his opportunities, he has never taken it for granted, and you see his hard work paying off right now."
Making Michael's big game even more impressive is the fact that it came on the heels of a tough moment. Late in last week's loss at Los Angeles, the Seahawks were driving for the possible go-ahead score, but Michael fumbled to end Seattle's comeback chances. He bounced back well from that in practice during the week, and the very next time Michael touched the ball in a game, he went 41 yards for his first touchdown.
"He was very sincere about his remorse about that," Carroll said. "He guaranteed us that he wasn't going to make a mistake like that again, and all that kind of stuff. That's a sign of maturity also, that he could handle the setback in a crucial situation, and he did. He came back and played great with it."
Added Michael: "That's been on my mind. I want to help this offense as much as possible. It's a great offense when the run game is going. You see how Russell Wilson throws the ball to his receivers and how they make explosive plays. You have to keep it going. Just don't turn the ball over and play smart football."
Michael didn't just play smart football on Sunday, he played the best football of his career to help jumpstart Seattle's best offensive performance of the season.
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Seahawks running back Christine Michael opens the scoring in Week 3, running 41 yards for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.