In a game bereft of panache on offense, due largely to the absence of starters on the Seahawks part and the absence of talent among the Raiders, the one memorable play Sunday at the Clink went for a tidy three yards. Marshawn Lynch in the first quarter carried himself and what appeared to be the equivalent of the population of Singapore into the end zone.
“I think maybe six of them was my own team, so it’s all good,” said Lynch post-game, which in itself was almost as memorable, since he stayed for a few questions, apparently at the urgent behest of the NFL to fulfill his contractual obligation to play nice with the media.
Lynch was gang-tackled by the Raiders, then gang-pushed by the Seahawks, and the Seahawks won the mosh pit, providing a 7-3 lead that was never lost. On a day when QB Russell Wilson admitted, “I didn’t play well at all,” and when special teams missed a field goal and had a punt blocked, the Seahawks won 30-24 largely because of what many implored the Seahawks to do for much of the season’s first half.
Feed the Beast.
They did. He had 21 rushing attempts for 67 yards, and five pass receptions for 76 more. The production came after another week’s off-field tempest that featured Lynch as the target of media speculation that Seahawks bosses had grown weary of his “act.”
That side of the eccentric Lynch is almost never seen by the public. What the public sees is a fearless ninja who makes bad things OK and good things great. The bosses never have, and wouldn’t dare, disparage his game-day punches. Fans have a hard time imagining the Seahawks succeeding without him, no matter what the issues are with the salary cap in 2015.
“He was terrific today,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Gosh, it was one spectacular play after another. That was so cool to see him out in the out in the open field, where he could really tear it up.”
In fact, the screen pass to Lynch after a play-fake was about the only play that worked in the second half. Without it, the Seahawks are 4-4 at midseason with a loss to a previously winless team, and dead to the rest of the world that isn’t numbered 12.
Instead, they are 5-3 and able to cling to a belief that if/when some health returns, the Seahawks will resume a posture of championship dignity. What that looks like in the NFL, on a day when the Denver Broncos lost at New England by 22 and the Santa Clara 49ers lost by three at home to St. Louis, is subject to debate.
But it certainly looks a little like what the Seattle defense demonstrated.
After acquiring three turnovers and holding the Raiders to 226 yards total offense, including 37 on the ground, the defense looked familiar, even if it was against a rookie QB and a winless outfit.
“We played so well (24-3 lead) in the first half,” Carroll said, “it really felt like it was the style we loved seeing.”
But matters frayed in the second half, mostly due to injuries that left newcomers and inexperienced players in bad positions. At one point, the offensive line, missing LT Russell Okung and centers Max Unger and Steve Schilling, and losing LG James Carpenter to a sprained ankle, had youngsters Alvin Bailey, Garry Gilliam and Patrick Lewis in at the same time.
“It was a circus out there,” said Carroll, “just getting the guys in their spots, moving guys around.”
It had some impact on Wilson, who ran away endlessly from the Raiders rush and was wild high when he did set his feet.
“He wouldn’t tell you that,” Carroll said. “He took it. We’ll have to wait and see the film and see how much pressure was caused by that.”
Wilson, in fact, was baffled as to why he was 17 for 35 for 179 yards, two near-picks and a passer rating of 63.9.
“Usually, I know why,” he said. “If something is off, footwork, or whatever. I usually try to find out during the game and adjust. I felt like I was in it. Whatever I was trying to do, it wasn’t working.
“I know I can play better; I know I will play better.”
In a way, it may be some relief for the Seahawks to win a game when Wilson isn’t Superman. They get another modest opponent Sunday in the New York Giants, also st home, then commence a brutal run of formidables for the rest of the season in which it will be capes up for all superheroes.
Lynch isn’t always capable of bridging the gap during Wilson’s Clark Kent phase. But he did prove on one play Sunday that he could not only carry the Seahawks, but the Raiders too.