RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The best day running the football in the history of the Seattle Seahawks was weeks in the making.
When Seattle returned from a surprising loss at St. Louis on Oct. 18, they were 3-3 and playing from behind in the NFC West. They were reeling from the trade of Percy Harvin. And they had lost parts of the offensive identity which led them to a title last season.
So in an effort to regroup, the Seahawks rediscovered a key part of their offense. They made running the football and leaning on Marshawn Lynch the priority.
Three wins later and coming off an impressive 38-17 rout of the New York Giants on Sunday, the Seahawks are back to resembling the team that went on their title run.
And the timing couldn’t be better with the rugged schedule the Seahawks are about to face beginning this Sunday at Kansas City.
“We’ve been in a mode where it’s really been focusing on the running game and trying to make sure we get that done,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said on Monday. “I think it’s worked out. I think it’s helped us. I think we’re more like we’ve been and we like it. We’re going to keep going.”
Seattle ran for 350 yards against the Giants. It was the most in an NFL game since Kansas City rushed for 352 against Indianapolis near the end of the 2012 season. It was the sixth-most yards on the ground of any team in the past 25 seasons. The Seahawks averaged nearly 8 yards per carry and had six runs of 16 yards or more.
Lynch was again the workhorse with 140 yards and a career-best four touchdowns. Russell Wilson added 107 yards on 14 carries, becoming the second QB in the Super Bowl era with three games of at least 100 yards rushing in the same season. Christine Michael added 71 yards rushing and Robert Turbin had 32 yards.
It was the culmination of three weeks where the Seahawks returned to making the run game the base of their offense.
“We’ve been capable of that all year and it’s finally started to click,” guard J.R. Sweezy said. “We’re finally getting guys healthy and we’re finally playing our style of football.”
Seattle hadn’t completely abandoned the run game as its primary base, but there were times earlier in the season when the Seahawks were still trying to figure out how to implement Harvin, keep Lynch as part of the offense and let Wilson make plays with his feet and arm.
The trade of Harvin took away one of those elements and the Seahawks became more basic, perhaps to their benefit. Through the first six games, the Seahawks averaged 28.3 rush attempts.
In the past three games, that number is up to 36.3 attempts. Seattle had 26 runs against Carolina; 38 against Oakland and 45 against the Giants. It was the most rush attempts for the Seahawks since running 47 times in Week 2 of the 2013 season.
The Seahawks are averaging 206 yards per game on the ground and more importantly 5.67 yards per carry during their three-game win streak.
“I liked our game plan,” center Max Unger said. “We got pretty deep into it, ran a bunch of different stuff, a variety of runs that set other stuff up.”
Seattle was helped by having a nearly intact offensive line for the first time in weeks. The only absence was left guard James Carpenter (ankle), but Alvin Bailey filled in and played well, Carroll said. Unger returned, as did left tackle Russell Okung after both were out with injuries.
It provided far more stability than a week earlier when the Seahawks had only two regular starters playing for most of the second half against Oakland.
“The guys up front played really well and it was by far the best effort that we’ve seen,” Carroll said. “It was really just a great day for those guys. I think Max had a lot to do with that.”
NOTES: Seattle lost DT Brandon Mebane to a “legit” hamstring injury in Sunday’s win. Carroll has regularly praised Mebane’s play this season, but now he could be out for a significant period. … LB Bobby Wagner (toe) is expected to run on flat ground this week for the first time since being injured in Week 6 vs. Dallas.
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