After a 19-3 win Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll walked about the CenturyLink Field home locker room offering words of encouragement to anyone who would listen.
When he saw a small militia of reporters gathered around running back Marshawn Lynch’s locker, he couldn’t hold back.
Never breaking stride, Carroll pumped his fist a few times and proclaimed, “All right, Marshawn!”
Lynch was fined $100,000 last week for refusing to speak with reporters after Seattle’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (Lynch is appealing). And he didn’t exactly have his easiest game Sunday against the Cardinals. Battling flu-like symptoms and a balky back, he sat out parts of the first half, but still rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries (2.6 average) and caught three passes for 43 yards.
Sunday marked a return to form for not only the Legion of Boom, but the Seahawks’ defensive line as well. Starting in place of QB Carson Palmer (torn ACL), Arizona backup QB Drew Stanton completed 14 of 26 passes for 149 yards, no touchdowns and an interception (54.8 quarterback rating), while Arizona’s running game never got going, finishing with 64 yards on 20 carries.
Often struggling to rush the passer through the first 10 games, the Seahawks (7-4) recorded three sacks, two of which came via speedy defensive end Cliff Avril, who had perhaps his best game of the season.
Seahawks FS Earl Thomas was certainly excited.
Earlier in the week, he held a team meeting with about 10 players in an attempt to unify a club that was nearly in a must-win situation. It paid off. From Arizona’s first play on offense, when veteran DT Kevin Williams stuffed RB Andre Ellington for a four-yard loss, the Seahawks played inspired, disciplined defense in front of 68,237 fans that provided a playoff atmosphere.
“We learned something this week,” Carroll said. “About really playing for each other.”
“It was the best feeling we’ve had all year,” Carroll said. “The best sense for one another and the focus and the intensity, and just the feeling was really on today. It was obvious.”
The Seahawks moved to two games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West and into the final wild card spot in the conference. Seattle and Arizona face again Dec. 21 at University of Phoenix Stadium in the penultimate game of the regular season.
QB Russell Wilson wasn’t all that bad, either. Facing an almost constant, disruptive pass rush, he threw accurately and was as elusive as ever. Yes, he was sacked seven times, but he also ran 10 times for a team-high 73 yards and completed 17 of 22 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown (121.6 passer rating) after failing to eclipse the 200-yard mark in each of the the past four games.
Want an incredible stat? Wilson is 14th in the NFL with 644 rushing yards.