Trained as he was in show business during his tenure at USC, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll came out with the entertainment package for Monday Night Football — a kickoff reverse, a halfback pass, blocked punt for a touchdown, prancing stallions, bearded ladies . . .
Well, maybe there’s an exaggeration or two. Although the opponent did show up with a no-armed quarterback. Freaky, but not worth the price of admission.
What worked best was what has thrilled Seahawks fans for the past few weeks — a creature feature. Seattle’s little secret was shared with the world — a Skittles-fired Beast show.
“Good night of ball,” Carroll said after the 30-13 win over the St. Louis Rams. “It’s really tough to be consistent in this league. But right now (four wins in five games, and a 6-7 record), we’re feeling good and having fun.”
The NFL world may not have fully appreciated it, because it came against a disheveled St. Louis outfit barely (2-11) functional, just as it was three weeks ago when the Seahawks won in St. Louis, 24-7.
But Marshawn Lynch was the epitome of the consistency to which Carroll referred — another 100-yard rushing game (115 of Seattle’s 145 total), another touchdown (nine games in a row to tie a club record) and another grinding consumption of clock down the stretch.
Said Carroll: “Marshawn really gave us some momentum in the second half when we didn’t have much going.”
In the locker room, Lynch kept giving, in two particular directions: His patchwork offensive line, and John Nordstrom.
Leader of the family that owns the store chain and the Seahawks from 1976-88, Nordstrom remains a die-hard fan known to all the players. He approached Lynch at his locker, seeking a “Beast Mode” T-shirt featuring a wild cartoon of the dreadlocked hero.
When Lynch dug into his pack and offered one, the gray-haired Nordstrom was so excited he had to put it on — over his parka.
“Look at this!” Nordstrom said as he strolled around the locker room, provoking approving hoots from the players. The Seahawks are in a fine mood these days.
Regarding the O-line . . . it may be the biggest reason for exuberance. Despite the injury absence of three starters, the replacements were effective enough to allow the Seahawks to rush 32 times and pass 32 times.
Granted, it was the Rams, who were missing key defensive players, but the balance was remarkable.The Seahawks have recovered from a 2-6 start primarily because any lineman who gets plugged in seems to find his way. Compared to the Rams, the difference is large.
Listen to Steven Jackson, the hard-driving Rams running back who was held to 63 yards.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries, and you’re constantly shuffling the line,” he said. “You don’t have any chemistry. When you have to go back to Week One stuff, and coaching that up, it stills you from trying to move forward.”
To which the Seahawks respond: So?
“We’re really deep into our substitutions now,” said Carroll, referring to tackles Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini and guard Lemuel Jeanpierre. “That’s a really good statement about the system and the commitment and these kids answering the call when they get the chance.”
Speaking of answering the call, Doug Baldwin, the undrafted free agent, had the game of his brief but rapidly rising career. Besides a team-high seven catches for 93 yards and a 29-yard touchdown catch, the rookie wide receiver delivered the play of the game on special teams.
When the Rams went to punt away their first possession of the game, Baldwin flew in from the edge to block Donnie Jones‘ kick, which was scooped up by special teams captain Michael Robinson and taken 17 yards for a touchdown.
“Never — ever,” said Baldwin after being asked if he had blocked a kick before. “I wish I could have held on to it, though.”
He opened the game by taking a reverse from kick receiver Leon Washington and rambling 47 yards. After the Seahawks drive fizzled into a punt, he ran downfield to catch the punt in the air at the Rams’ 5-yard line.
“He just continues to do stuff,” Carroll said. “Every chance you give him, he does something.
“He’s got a chip on his shoulder that drives him to be a tough guy and a playmaker. He’s just a terrific competitor. ”
It was all too much for the Rams, especially Sam Bradford, the second-year quarterback who might have had his worst game as a pro. Coming off a sprained ankle that limited his practice time, Bradford was 12 of 29 for 193 yards and an interception. The Seahawks sacked him three times.
“It’s just really hard to get a rhythm going,” he said, “when you don’t establish the pass or the run.”
When a team does both, life gets easier. Fun, even. Unleash the beast, and put on a show for the world.