BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 09/29/2015

Rawls, Lockett now unique in Seahawks history

Rookie Thomas Rawls is first Seahawks undrafted free agent to rush for 100 yards in a game. Fellow rook Tyler Lockett is first to score TDs from kickoff and punt returns in same season.

Tyler Lockett holds a unique place in Seahawks history. / Seahawks.com

NFL.com delivered a mixed review in its pre-draft scouting report on RB Thomas Rawls of the Central Michigan Chippewas. The upside first: “Rawls is powerful beyond his size with strong legs and outstanding balance . . . . Able to absorb contact on legs with defenders bouncing off . . . Coils into a ball of power and explodes into tacklers with cocked hip . . . Finishes his runs with a message being sent.”

Rawls sent quite a message Sunday. With Marshawn Lynch unable to continue with a hamstring problem, Rawls rushed for 104 yards, becoming Seattle’s first 100-yard rusher other than Lynch since Robert Turbin produced a 108-yard game against Arizona Dec. 9, 2012.

NFL.com projected that the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Rawls would go off the draft board either in the fifth or sixth round – that despite this “bottom line” assessment: “While he finishes with brute force, he possesses the vision and lateral movement of a finesse runner. He is more than capable of handling a starter’s workload in the NFL.”

But no team drafted Rawls, and NFL.com’s scouting report provided a pretty good reason why: “Suspended two games after being charged with three felonies. Missed time at end of season with knee injury. Did not play in bowl game due to academic issues.”

That’ll do it every time.

The scouting report elaborated that Rawls had been charged with felonies of larceny and credit card fraud in April 2014 after allegedly stealing a 62-year-old woman’s purse, before he enrolled at CMU. Prosecutors and Rawls reached a plea deal, but the baggage Rawls carried was such that every NFL team went for coffee.

Seizing the moment, the Seahawks made Rawls one of 10 undrafted free agents they signed May 8. Now he holds a unique place in Seahawks’ history as the only undrafted rookie free agent ever to rush for 100 yards in a game, and one of only four such players to do so in the month of September since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger (last was Brandon Bolden of New England in 2012).

It’s a rare thing for the Seahawks when a rookie, much less an undrafted one, produces a 100-yard rushing game. Shaun Alexander, a first-round pick (2000), had a shot Oct. 2, 2000 when, replacing Ricky Watters, he got 11 carries against Minnesota. But Alexander finished with 74 yards.

Curt Warner had six 100-yard games as a 1983 rookie, including a high of 207 against Kansas City, not unexpected since the Seahawks traded up in the draft in order to select Warner No. 3 overall. But no other Seattle rookie has had more than one, Ahman Green in 1999 the last before Turbin. This is the extent of Seattle rookies producing 100-yard rushing games:

Year Player Draft No. Skinny
1983 Curt Warner 1st: Penn St. 6 Best: 207 vs. KC Nov. 27
1976 Sherman Smith 2nd: Miami/OH 1 124 yards vs. Atl Nov. 7
1998 Ahman Green 3rd: Nebraska 1 100 yards at Phil Sept. 6
2012 Robert Turbin 4th: Utah St. 1 108 yards vs. Ariz Dec. 9
2015 Thomas Rawls UD: Cent. Mich 1 104 yards vs. Chic Sept. 27

In addition to Rawls being the only undrafted player on the list, he holds the distinction of having collected his first 100-yard game in his first career start. Of those listed, only Ahman Green (Sept. 6, 1998 at Philadelphia) also did that.

And Tyler too

While Rawls became the only undrafted rookie to rush for 100-plus yards for the Seahawks, Tyler Lockett, who cost the Seahawks four draft picks (who cares now?), is the only Seattle rookie – in fact, the only player — to score on punt and kickoff returns in the same season.

Lockett returned Sunday’s second-half kickoff a record 105 yards as an encore to his 57-yard punt return against St. Louis in the season opener.

Charlie Rogers, Seattle’s fifth-round pick in 1999, was the first Seattle player to complete the kickoff return-punt return TD feat. Nate Burleson followed. But Lockett is the first to pull off the double in his rookie season — and in three games no less.

Kickoff return touchdowns

Year Date Player Opp. Yards Qtr. Result
2000 Dec. 23 Charlie Rogers Bills 81 1 L 42-23
2007 Oct. 21 Nate Burleson Rams 91 3 W 33-6
2015 Sept. 27 Tyler Lockett Bears 105 3 W 26-0

Punt return touchdowns

Year Date Player Opp Yards  Result
1999 Sept. 26 Charlie Rogers Steelers 94 1 L 29-10
2006 Nov. 12 Nate Burleson Rams 90 4 W 24-22
2007 Nov. 4 Nate Burleson Browns 94 2 L 33-30
2015 Sept. 13 Tyler Lockett Rams 57 1 L 34-31

Record watch

Russell Wilson opened the season with two mediocre — for him — performances. He threw a touchdown and an interception at St. Louis and came back with two TDs and a pick at Green Bay. His passer rating in those games: 90.1 and 91.8, respectively, below his career mark of 98.6 entering the season.

Due to no interceptions and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham in the third quarter Sunday, Wilson topped 100.0 for the first time this season, finishing at 101.4.

That marked the 25th game of Wilson’s career in which he’s exceeded a 100.0 passer rating, elevating Wilson into a tie with Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco for most such games in the first four seasons of a career. Wilson now has 13 games to break — and add to — that record.

The following quarterbacks all posted at least 24 passer ratings of 100-plus during their first four seasons in the NFL:

Years Player Team No. Rec. Best
1983-86 Dan Marino Mia 25 23-2 150.4 vs. Wash, 1984
2004-07 Ben Roethlisberger Pitt 25 21-4 158.3 vs. Tenn, 2005
2008-11 Joe Flacco Bal 25 23-2 135.6 vs. Chi, 2009
2012-15 Russell Wilson Sea 25 22-3 151.4 vs. Minn, 2013
1999-01 Kurt Warner StL 24 23-1 158.3 vs. SD, 2000
2004-07 Carson Palmer Cin 24 16-8 131.1 vs. SD, 2006

Blanked

With three games in the books, the Seahawks have yet to score a rushing touchdown. This marks the first season since 2002 that Seattle hasn’t tallied a rushing score in the first three games of a season. The Seahawks also failed to score a rushing TD in the first three games of the 1980, 1989 and 1999 seasons.


YourThoughts

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    This was an enlightening article Steve. I hope when the season ends you are doing a article comparison of Tylers and Devin Hesters rookie season.

  • 1coolguy

    I would like to think Rawls 104 yards are teh result of the O-line starting to jell, even though RW was sacked and hurried much too much.
    I hope by mid-season the line will be dependable and consistent. Here’s to hoping.

    • eYeDEF

      The run blocking was generally improved upon quite a bit against the bears, with the giant caveat being that they played the Bears. Better test coming up on Monday.