After running for a season-high 106 yards and the first two-rushing-touchdown game of his career, Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls is one of three players up for Ground Player of the Week at NFL.com.
The second-year pro helped set the tone for Seattle's best rushing performance of the year in this past weekend's 40-7 primetime win over the Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks racked up 240 yards on the ground -- their most since running for 255 in a win over San Francisco last season -- against what was the second-ranked run defense coming into the week. Rawls' 106 yards came on 15 carries (7.1-yard average), including a 45-yard touchdown run that helped push his team's lead to 17-7 in the game's second quarter.
On Monday, following the Seahawks' Week 13 win over Carolina, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll recalled his first impressions of Rawls, who excelled as an undrafted rookie free agent last season and who has started to find his stride after battling injuries earlier in the year.
"I was really excited about Thomas entering the competition because of his style of play. He's very aggressive and very tough and that's the part that I liked about him coming in. I'll tell you before he really got a chance to play, we couldn't tell if it was going to transfer to the League and all. But as soon as he got going, he demonstrated that he was a big play guy, very explosive, very aggressive, brought great attitude, and really added to our whole makeup of style of play. You've seen us without him and we're different without him. He's a very unique football player. I can't tell you that we knew how effective he would be, I wish I could have seen that. But we were excited about him with hopes that he'd be a factor.
"I thought last night was a vivid example of the kind of running that he brings our football team. It's not just the big plays, it's all the plays. It's attacking tacklers and defenses and creative breaks and cuts that he has and instincts that he has with the great nature about playing tough. It's really special."
Rawls' competition for the weekly honor includes Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard, who rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries in a 26-6 win over the San Francisco 49ers, and Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray, who had 82 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills. When the winner is announced, a $2,000 donation will be made to USO in their name.
Get close to the Seahawks with these sideline photos from the 40-7 victory over the Panthers last night at CenturyLink Field.