SEATTLE — Behind rookie C.J. Prosise and second-year pro Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks put forth their best rushing effort of the year during Sunday's 26-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, with the pair of running backs combining for 133 yards on 18 carries as Seattle recorded a season-high 152 yards on the ground and averaged a 2016-best 5.1 yards per carry.
Before he left with a shoulder injury, Prosise, who had 153 yards from scrimmage in last week's win over the New England Patriots, ran four times for 76 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown run in the game's first quarter that was the longest run from scrimmage by a Seahawk in CenturyLink Field history. Add in an aggressive Thomas Rawls, who finished with 14 carries for 57 hard-fought yards in his first action since suffering a fibula injury in Week 2, and a Seattle offense that came into the week averaging 77.7 rushing yards per game (30th NFL) and 3.27 yards per carry (31st) looked a lot more like the one 12s have grown accustomed to seeing over the past several seasons.
"There's no question that C.J. got us started with a great couple runs," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said postgame. "But we really felt Thomas today. It was great to have him back out there."
An ankle injury ended his standout rookie season early, but Rawls finished his first year in the League averaging an NFL-high 5.7 yards per rush. While he didn't quite hit that mark in the team's win over Philadelphia, he did manage a healthy 4.1 yards per tote, carrying the football with a run-through-you rather than run-around-you mentality.
"That's his nature," said strong safety Kam Chancellor, who had eight tackles, two passes defensed, and one interception against the Eagles. "That's Rawls. He's like a ram. If he sees you, he's aiming at you. You're about to get ran on. Watch out for the bull."
Rawls, who also made three catches for 31 yards, had several bullish efforts against the Eagles, including a 9-yard run early in the second-quarter that was followed up two plays later by an 18-yard cut-back sprint, his longest run of the day. Rawls' teammates took notice of his physical presence.
"When I see my brothers out there bringing the pain, delivering the pain, and I know what type of person Rawls is — he loves to seek contact and that's a part of my nature," said Chancellor. "It gets me revved up. I can feel him. I can feel his passion and his energy that he's playing with. It's a connection that we have."
Said center Justin Britt: "Thomas brings a different presence than the other backs obviously just the way he is and the way he runs the ball with how he looks for the contact instead of trying to juke you out. Just like whenever Marshawn [Lynch] was here, I love blocking for that type of person, someone who's going to sacrifice their body no matter what's going on with themselves. Every game, whether they're banged up or whether they're healthy, they're going to go out there and sacrifice themselves for us. It only makes us want to do the same for them."
Offered right tackle Garry Gilliam: "He just brings that physical mentality and he's going to make sure the defense feels it after a while. They just don't want to tackle someone like that after a while."
Added cornerback Richard Sherman: "He loves going after people. He loves bringing the fight to them and just to see him kind of get back to who he is and get a chance to be out there just made my night."
Injuries to Prosise and later fellow rookie Troymaine Pope (ankle), who was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster this past week, led to more playing time than Rawls originally anticipated to see against the Eagles. Still, the 23-year-old said "it felt amazing" to be back on the field.
"I don't think that was in the game plan, but whatever it takes," Rawls said of his Week 11 workload. "I think with a mentality like that and my work ethic, it doesn't matter. Whatever it takes to help these guys. I also know that a couple guys went down in the backfield and I'll be praying for those guys. But in the meantime I need to hold down the running back position, no pressure."
With Lynch's retirement this past offseason, Rawls has emerged as one of the team's leaders in a young running back room, a role that Rawls said he's "embracing" as Seattle improves to 7-2-1 on the season.
"From the first carry and from warm ups, I was calm," Rawls said of his return. "I was relaxed and it felt so good to carry the ball. It put me in a mindset to about this time last year, I was relaxed and just having fun. I'm just playing the game of football and I'm not trying to take it too seriously. It's my job and I also know that I'm a leader on this team, and I'm embracing that role."
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Check out some actions photos from Week 11 vs the Eagles at CenturyLink Field.