BY Art Thiel 12:33AM 12/22/2014

Thiel: Seahawks did it with hands behind backs

Take a bow, maligned offensive line, for a splendid job in launching Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson to season-best feats in teardown of the Cardinals.

Marshawn Lynch dazzled the football world again Sunday with a 79-yard TD run that dropped jaws faster than he dropped tacklers. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

So many superlatives. So short are our arms to grasp them all. Instead, let’s begin with the absurd: Coach Pete Carroll attempting to explain the digestive mysteries of RB Marshawn Lynch that kept him out of the starting lineup and first quarter of Sunday night’s nationally televised evisceration of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ.

“He was sick — a stomach issue,” Carroll said. “He couldn’t get well.

“He was trying to throw up and he couldn’t throw up. I don’t know if he ever got to it. It was holding him back.”

Finally, the NFL learns there is a recipe for stopping the Beast. But the Cardinals needed the four-quarter recipe, not the one-quarter. He recovered sufficiently to blow figurative chunks over the team that once had the best record in the NFL.

Which now is making sick the NFL playoff field.

The statement made by his 113 yards in 10 carries during the 35-6 soul-crusher sent a message screaming around the football nation: The dreaded defense is now accompanied by an offense that can put up a club-record 596 yards on the road against a good defense while missing 40 percent of the starting offensive line, which included a fourth-stringer at center. And was without three tight ends and No. 2 receiver.

It’s one thing to batter poor Ryan Lindley, the Cards’ third-string QB. That, everyone knew would happen. It’s quite another to pour 21 fourth-quarter points down the throat of a defense known for its fourth-quarter heroics. And do it with backups.

The feats of Lynch and QB Russell Wilson were obvious and soon committed to NFL Films immortality. But we pause in the we-are-not-worthy prostrations to offer a salute to LT Alvin Bailey and C Patrick Lewis, the latter the center after Max Unger and Steve Schilling were injured, and Lemuel Jeanpierre was passed over, to start.

“That’s a lot of yards (267 rushing and a 7.9 average) against a really tough group,” Carroll said. “It happened with some extraordinary execution with the guys (assistant coach Tom Cable) had playing.”

Carroll hailed Bailey, Lewis and guards James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy, both playing with injuries, for the freight train work in the rushing game, as well as the pass protection that permitted a single sack after giving up seven to Arizona in the previous meeting.

“Playing with a loud crowd, the young guys were able to communicate,” Carroll said. “I’m really happy for them. They were the difference against one of best defenses in the NFL.”

Wilson did his part perhaps better than in any game in his astonishing three-year career. In completing 20 of 31 for 339 yards, Wilson’s timing, accuracy and judgments were often impeccable, better than at any time this season. His runs were well-timed, his throws, especially medium routes in the middle, were effective, and his touch remarkable — particularly the three to TE Luke Willson, the only man left standing at his position after Cooper Helfet went down (ribs) and Tony Moeaki was inactive (shoulder).

After WR Jermaine Kearse went out with a hamstring strain defending on a kickoff return, Wilson turned three times to Willson, the Canadian national via Rice University who suddenly went national Sunday night in a big way. Twice for touchdowns (80 yards and 20 yards) and another for 39 yards, Wilson lofted balls that caught Willson in full stride behind defenders.

“Russell was just ridiculous tonight,” Carroll said. ” He was so good. The rushing yards, the third down conversions, the big-time throws, the plays to get out of trouble. It’s as good as you can get.”

And then there was Lynch. To paraphrase from basketball poet Darryl Dawkins, his tackle-breaking, DB-outrunning, sideline-dancing, stiffarm-sticking, crotch-grabbing spine-chiller supreme was 79 yards of football history. Beast Quake worthy.

“Never seen a better run,” said Carroll. “It reminded me of O.J. Simpson’s run against Ohio State (in the 1969 Rose Bowl). So much fun to watch.”

Asked Russell Wilson: “Can it get any better?”

He was speaking of Lynch’s run, but it also was a question Carroll asked of his players during the week following a 17-7 deconstruction of the 49ers.

“Last week was nice,” Carroll said of his query: “Can you do it again? There was a lot of stuff at stake.”

They did it. Better. In sweeping the Arizona and San Francisco series, the Seahawks won the four games by a combined 90-19. And now they meet Sunday at home the division team that beat them — the Rams, 28-26 winners in St. Louis Oct. 19.

Carroll will re-ask the question: Can you do it again?

Imagine if Lynch has a beastly urp before the game.



  • 1coolguy

    My game ball goes to the O line: I never thought this group could pull off what they did tonight. Remarkable.
    The Buhner twins (Bailey and Britt) did a fine job and Lewis had his best game of the year. What happened with Jeanpierre, who replaced Lewis the past few games?
    I can’t wait for the results when Unger and Okung are back!

    • Bruce McDermott

      Cable thought Lewis played well in the first game against the Cardinals, so they kept Lem as a possible back-up if Sweezy couldn’t go.

    • John M

      Maybe I was the only one counting or my eyes were wrong, but didn’t anyone else notice the offense usually deployed 7 blockers in AZ instead of the usual 5 or 6? A little help helps everybody.
      I tend to have doubts before every game, but I believe if the Hawks continue playing at this level no one can beat them. In Wilson, what we’re seeing is a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

      • art thiel

        They did add TEs, but that went out when Helfet did (ribs). Wilson was good with the three-step drop and accurate with throws. Always helps make the pass pro look good.

    • art thiel

      Cable thought Lewis graded out well in his previous start vs. AZ. Jeanpierre probably would have played backup RG if Sweezy couldn’t go. Might change this week.

  • ll9956

    Nervous Nellie that I am, I was really worried when AZ scored first and the Hawks O wasn’t clicking so well in the first quarter. Then there were the penalties. OY! Hauschka’s misses weren’t exactly calming. Then things started getting better and better and better! Beast Mode’s 79-yard gallop was nothing short of astonishing.

    Like 1coolguy, I was mystified why Jeanpierre didn’t play.

    They should be really pumped for St. Louis next week. What can one say other than

    GO HAWKS?!

    • Mike Barnes

      4 will be kicking his butt off on FGs this coming week, we can be sure.

      • art thiel

        I think that was a one-off for Hauschka, much as was the dropped punt by Ryan.

    • art thiel

      With the penalties and ST errors, it’s fair to say the offense wasn’t clicking in parts. And they managed a club record in yards anyway.

  • jafabian

    The Hawks were missing two Pro Bowl Offensive linemen, their starting TE, WR and for the first quarter their Pro Bowl RB. And he was pretty much missing in the second quarter as well. Russell Wilson was determined to lead the offense to victory and they followed his lead. How appropriate that he scored the last TD. A bit concerned on Hauschka’s day went. IMO he should have been 2-3 on FG’s. I wondered if Wilson might have a multiple sack day and get injured and that was hardly the case. Props to Tom Cable for his game preparation.

    • art thiel

      Wilson’s TD run included two jukes and a stiffarm. Impressive.

      • jafabian

        The defender on that play broke the cardinal rule of Tim Grgrurich’s defensive playbook: never leave your feet. Once he did that Wilson owned him.

  • Dave Mauro

    I was at this game, and could feel the collective spirit of the Cardinals players leave the stadium along with most of their fans early in the fourth quarter. From that point on the crowd noise came only from our tiny band of 12’s gathered near the rafters. It was really really fun! It didn’t even matter that Hauschka didn’t know it was a game day.

    • art thiel

      It was fun to hear the post-game interviews backgrounded by Seahawks chants. 12s do travel. And it helped that it was Phoenix.

  • PokeyPuffy

    MAN is Wilson awesome. His timing and choices particularly the scrambles and runs just completely broke down the Cards defense. He stiff armed and faked his way to some great runs last night. It is like watching Magic Johnson of the mid-80’s

    • art thiel

      Carroll said this morning it was probably RW’s most complete game. In recent games, Wilson ran himself into some trouble. Not Sunday.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Exactly what I thought (after the 49er win) so I related when I read “Can you do it again”?Emphatic yes, big games are becoming normal as they peak at the right time.
    Simple math says if they dig deep again as they have been asked to do and defeat the always formidable Rams they will(likely) have home field advantage for the 2014 play offs.
    Can you do it again will be asked of them 3 more times if the stars are aligned.
    It might come down to a penalty or two swaying the difference when the stakes are high. I hope Carroll drums that in their head that you dont want to screw yourself out of a chance to play in Phoenix again over something that is correctable.
    Meanwhile bask in this win , Hawks. You just beat a Hellofa team.

    • art thiel

      Coaches got the pens down from 10 in the first half to one in the second. But still . . . back to back offsides by Bennett? C’mon, man.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        I know…Mike shares my birthday and I love his energy…but he is a VET…he just has no excuse for back to backers…..

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        I slapped my forehead and bellowed MMMMMMiike! Was just as impressed as you apparently were….

  • Tman

    What a great time to receive the copies of your book. I write this because the book is a beauty..Hard to picture how nice it is until you get it. Bought it along with coach Carrolls book for two sons. They are going to love them. Really pleased. You and Steve Rudman did great..the book is as good as your writing. Your writing is the best. Thank you. Happyf Holidays to all at sportspressnw!

    • art thiel

      Thanks Tman. Glad you enjoyed. Please tell your friends it’s on Christmas for everyone!

  • Macfunk

    Did anybody notice that the Seahawks’ fullback played at least one set of downs in the defensive line . . . during the fourth quarter? Tukuafu on the Cardinals!

    • art thiel

      Missed that, but he’s been a real asset with D-line injuries. They aren’t as deep this year, so a few series helps.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    The Beast’s backward-diving, crotch-grabbing finale’ to his great run is probably, unfortunately, going to cost him $10,000:

    • Obi-jonKenobi

      BTW, no mention of Wilson’s TD run?

      I had it recorded on TiVo and couldn’t stop watching it. It was such a thing of beauty because he juked not one but TWO Cardinal players on the way to the end zone. It’s just so unexpected, you’re just not expecting a QB to be throwing moves like that in the open field.

      The first move was something to see. He slowed to a stop as a Cardinal rusher closed in, looked like he might be thinking of passing, and then quickly moved to his left and executed a perfect stiff arm as the tackler dived at him.

      The second player he juked was their Pro Bowl cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, who was lined up head-on with Wilson and standing near his three-yard line when Wilson faked right and came back left leaving Cromartie and his jock strap hanging in mid air.

      • art thiel

        As I wrote in my lede, superlatives were so many I couldn’t get my arms around all. That five yard run with two jukes and a stiffarm was remarkable.

  • Diamond Mask

    Russell was insanely good last night. So well prepared to play Arizona. If he was in the pocket he threw it fast. My favorite play was on the second Luke TD pass when Russell spotted Toon on Luke and started stamping his foot repeatedly trying to get the ball snapped. At the time I’m like why is Russell stamping his foot like that but Collingsworth quickly made note of the smart play by our QB. Great Game! Go HAWKS!

    • art thiel

      Carroll called Wilson’s foot-stamping “cute” like a little kid. Can’t wait until RW hears that.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    Looking ahead to St. Louis, I just discovered that their defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was suspended for his admitted role in “bounty gate” when he was defensive coordinator for New Orleans a few years ago.

    This came to light when I was reading about the brawl that broke out between Rams and Giants players in Sunday’s game because of several targeted hits out of bounds on Giant receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

    So, heads up Seattle, we’re seeing a nastiness and attitude in the Rams defense that seems to be that dirty pool is allowed (and maybe encouraged).

    • art thiel

      Williams is notorious for over-amping his players. Remember that penalty-fest two years ago with the Rams?