Rookie Thomas Rawls produced a Beast Mode-like performance in Cincinnati Sunday, but Seattle’s 17-point, fourth-quarter meltdown overshadowed his amazing effort.
As the Seahawks sift through the wreckage of their 27-24 overtime gag to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, they can console themselves that they have uncovered a rare prize in rookie RB Thomas Rawls, who pounded out 169 yards on 23 carries and scored on a 69-yard run reminiscent of the best of Beast Mode. The Seahawks can also kick themselves for a meltdown almost unprecedented in franchise history.
As Elias pointed out, only three teams coming off a Super Bowl appearance the previous season blew a fourth-quarter lead of 17 or more points.
The 1992 Washington Redskins led the Phoenix Cardinals by 18 points (24-6) Oct. 4 that year and lost 27-24 in large part because Robert Massey returned interceptions 31 and 41 yards for touchdowns, both times victimizing former Washington State star and reigning Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien.
On Oct. 6, 2003, Tampa Bay led Indianapolis by 21 points (35-14) with 5:09 to play, but fell victim to a Peyton Manning onslaught that resulted in a 38-35 OT victory for the Colts.
In the Pete Carroll era (since 2010), the Seahawks have lost 12 games in which they held a fourth-quarter lead ranging from one to 17 points. Three of those are this season. Before Sunday’s 17-point choke, the Seahawks blew a seven-point lead with 4:39 remaining at St. Louis Sept. 13. They also held a 17-16 lead over the Packers at Lambeau Field Sept. 20 with 9:38 left and couldn’t hold off Aaron Rodgers and lost 27-17.
The five largest of the 12 fourth-quarter blown leads since Carroll became head coach (BL=blown lead):
|2015||Oct. 11||at Cincinnati||24-7||3:28||17||L 27-24 in overtime|
|2011||Nov. 27||vs. Washington||17-7||12:45||10||L 23-17 (Allw. 2TDs, FG)|
|2012||Nov. 25||at Miami||21-14||7:54||7||L 24-21 (Allw. TD, FG)|
|2015||Sept. 13||at St. Louis||31-24||4:39||7||L 34-31 in overtime|
|2013||Oct. 6||at Indianapolis||28-23||8:55||5||L 34-28 on 49-yard FG|
Carroll coached at USC the last time the Seahawks squandered a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, which matches the largest in franchise history. In fact, two such games preceded Sunday’s, both coached by Mike Holmgren (of which he probably doesn’t need to be reminded):
Nov. 23, 2003: Led 41-24 at Baltimore, lost 44-41 in OT (17 points)
After Matt Hasselbeck threw a 5-yard TD to Bobby Engram to stake Seattle to a 41-24 lead with 14:16 to play, the Ravens scored on a 16-yard blocked punt return by Ed Reed and on a 9-yard TD pass from Anthony Wright to Marcus Robinson. Matt Stover’s 49-yard field goal forced OT and Stover won it with a 42-yarder.
Oct. 10, 2004: Led 27-10 at CenturyLink, lost 33-27 in OT (17 points)
Josh Brown’s 34-yard field goal gave Seattle a 27-10 lead with 8:42 to play, but Marc Bulger threw two TD passes and Jeff Wilkins kicked a 26-yard field goal to force overtime. Bulger won it for the Rams with a 52-yard TD pass to Shaun McDonald in overtime.
Dishonorable mention: Seattle’s 37-34 loss at Denver Sept. 23, 1979 doesn’t qualify because the blown lead largely occurred in the third quarter, not the fourth. In that humiliation, the Seahawks rolled to a 34-10 lead at Mile High Stadium as Dan Doornink scored twice and Jim Zorn threw two touchdowns. The Broncos’ Craig Morton responded with three consecutive TD passes to pull Denver within 34-31, and Rob Lytle won it the fourth quarter on a one-yard run, completing a 27-point turnaround.
Thrust into the starting lineup when the Seahawks were forced to leave Marshawn Lynch home with a hamstring injury, Rawls, the former Central Michigan Chippewa, recorded his second 100-yard rushing game (104 vs. Chicago) of the season and the highest rushing total by a Seattle back since Shaun Alexander put up 201 against Green Bay in 2006.
Over the past 50 years, only two undrafted rookie free agents posted a higher single-game rushing mark than Rawls did Sunday. Dominic Rhodes of Midwestern State and the Indianapolis Colts had a 177-yard game against the Atlanta Falcons Dec. 16, 2001, and Samkon Gado of Liberty University and the Green Bay Packers ran for 171 against Detroit Dec. 11, 2005.
Covering the same span, seven undrafted rookies have produced 150 or more rushing yards in a game. Rawls is the first since 2010 when two players accomplished the feat.
|2001||Dec. 16||Dominic Rhodes||Colts||177||2 11-yard TDs vs. Atlanta|
|2005||Dec. 11||Samkon Gado||Packers||171||64-yard TD vs. Detroit|
|2015||Oct. 11||Thomas Rawls||Seahawks||169||69-yard TD at Cincinnati|
|2010||Dec. 26||LeGarrett Blount||Buccaneers||164||Bucs 38, Seahawks 15|
|1998||Dec. 20||James Allen||Bears||163||1 TD in 24-3 win over Balt|
|2010||Oct. 17||Chris Ivory||Saints||158||0 TDs vs. Tampa Bay|
|2007||Dec. 9||Ryan Grant||Packers||156||6-yard TD vs. Raiders|
Rawls might be different, but none of the other players on the list amounted to much. The most successful: Chris Ivory, who spent the 2006-08 seasons at Washington State University. Signed by New Orleans as a free agent, Ivory spent three years with the Saints before they traded him to the Jets. Ivory has had seven 100-yard games since his 158-yard effort against Tampa Bay, including a career-high 166 against Miami two weeks ago in London.
Blount, the former Oregon star, won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots in February.