BY Art Thiel 12:04AM 01/08/2017

Thiel: Seahawks handle business, are on the hunt

Yes, it was the sixth-seeded Lions. But the Seahawks trusted one another to do what they spent a year working toward — being successful without Marshawn Lynch. Saturday, they took a step.

The right hand of WR Paul Richardson hooks the face mask of FS Tavon Wilson, as Richardson’s left hand reaches around  for the ball to score the Seahawks’ first touchdown Saturday at the Clink. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

After a playoff club-record 161 yards and 27 carries, RB Thomas Rawls did not need to do anything more for the Seahawks Saturday night. But after the game, he provided the clearest take on the biggest result of the 26-6 playoff win over the Detroit Lions.

“We handling our business,” he said. “We on the hunt.”

After 17 weeks of mostly goodness and too-frequent badness, the Seahawks patiently worked the playbook and the opponent while making few errors and no turnovers. It felt like a latter-career Muhammad Ali fight. Not as quick or as bold, but more shrewd and calculating, happy with a 15-round decision knowing that no advantage was foolishly wasted swinging for a knockout.

As a consequence, the title is still within sight. The Seahawks play in Atlanta Saturday a very good Falcons team that nearly won in Seattle in October. The Falcons are much better than Lions.

And the Seahawks are finally better than they were in December. Handling their business. On the hunt.

They aren’t the 2013 Seahawks that won the Super Bowl. But they closer to the being the team that beat the Patriots in New England in mid-November. That’s what matters.

Did the Seahawks get well? They got better.

“I know you think we changed the whole game plan, changed schemes,” said coach Pete Carroll. “We didn’t. We just did really well tonight.”

After another slow first quarter, Carroll’s point manifested with the first possession of second quarter. Starting at their own 40, the Seahawks had nine consecutive running plays, seven by Rawls, and one each by FB Marcel Reece and RB Alex Collins.

The significance wasn’t just the 46 yards they picked up. It was that the Seahawks coaches  trusted the line and all blockers to do their jobs.

“It’s the best feeling in a while,” said a beaming Germain Ifedi, the criticized rookie right guard whom some are calling a bust. “When we’re doing it right, it’s hard to stop us.

“Once we got going, we knew (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell) was going to keep hitching the wagons to us. We’re still trying to earn that trust. We keep getting chances, we’ll earn that trust.”

The drive ended with the game’s first score, a fourth-and-goal pass from the 2-yard line, in which WR Paul Richardson leaped into the NFL’s video treasure vault with a one-handed touchdown catch. He also landed in the video collection of bad officiating when his grab of his defender’s face mask went unpenalized.

But the spectacle of that play obscures the significance of the eight previous minutes for Seattle’s immediate future. They executed the gospel according to Saint Pete:

Thou shalt carry the sacred skin until thy swords run with the blood of the infidels.

“Bev was just feeling it,” Carroll said. “He was playing off the way we were coming off the football. He loves to run the football. We’ve been doing it for years around here. He just latched on to it.”

For years, they had been doing it with Marshawn Lynch. In his retirement absence, the Seahawks have spent a year and countless resources trying to make up for how good Lynch’s extraordinary power, cleverness and durability made everyone else look.

They’re not there yet. But he no longer has the single-game playoff record for yards. That belongs to Rawls, who worked through a debilitating series of injuries to deliver the best game of his two seasons in Seattle.

“It means a lot,” said Rawls of breaking Lynch’s mark. “I looked up to him. Still do. Still communicate with him. I reminisce back when I was younger, watching him. Man . . . hopefully, one day!

“And that day is now. I’m kind of lost for words . . . I’m just a kid from Flint.”

The ability to deal and endure pain in the running back spot in the NFL is the game’s crucible. Rawls and Lynch share the capacity, right out there at the edge of human endurance.

“You have to have a whole different level of toughness,” Rawls said. “Sometimes you have to leave your mind and your body. Nothing matters but the play. Every play, just keep pounding. Then, I think it is, who can last the longest? Can you truly endure that much pain? Everybody out there is hurting.

“Who is the last one to give up?”

Saturday night, Rawls was the last one. Which is not to say that the Seahawks defense did not do something similar, denying an opponent a touchdown for the first time in the club’s playoff history.

QB Russell Wilson, running without his knee brace for the first time in almost three months — “I think I picked up a couple of tenths (of speed),” he said, smiling — mastered the short-pass game until he suckered the Lions into failure on a 42-yard, fourth-quarter bomb to Doug Baldwin.

But the night belonged to Rawls and his blockers, which even included Wilson, who ran past him to throw a downfield block on a 32-yard run.

Yes, it was the home field. Yes, the Seahawks were a 7.5-point favorite; yes, the Lions season ended with four losses in a row and the longest playoff losing streak (nine games) in NFL history.

But the Seahawks got better. They handled their business. They are on the hunt.

 


YourThoughts

  • Sam Base

    Great effort all the way around. This team has it’s dips and stumbles, but they still know now to play in the big moments. Should be very interesting next week.

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  • John M

    Certainly their most complete game of the season and individual players made some outstanding plays. Agree with the call when Richardson made the spectacular one-handed grab with the defender’s head appearing to be resting on his shoulder. Where else could his right hand go?

    What a difference some consistent blocking makes . . .

    • art thiel

      Actiually, the game in NE was the most complete. This one was 10-6 heading into the 4Q, saved by a miracle catch that should have been nullified by an OPI penalty.

      • 1coolguy

        Agreed

  • Effzee

    “I know you think we changed the whole game plan, changed schemes. We didn’t.” Oh, Pete. Forever the king of perception management. I like how he thinks we all just watched our first football game yesterday. It’s cute, and also a teensy bit patronizing. “Bev was just feeling it today.” LOL. *wipes tear from eye*

    • art thiel

      As with all coaches and players, they make up stuff to then demonize it in hindsight when they’re successful.

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    Another fine read, Art. You left one question I have unanswered, though. Since you have more access to the daily business of the ‘Hawks than the rest of us, I have to ask: What day of the practice week is “Catch a pass with your ass” day?

    • It’s only Sports

      That pass in part ALLOWED Doug to acquire the team record for play off catches.
      So may the derriere press be duly noted as one of those bunch.
      I just wonder if Jermaine Fell asleep last night muttering that was my TD catch Doug…Kearse has had a forgettable season in terms of input so to be honest he could have used the mental boost and credit of the score. Not that he didn’t catch anything. He did and in general the Hawks registered a performance that was indeed noteworthy. It is something to build on as they say.
      No rest for the Weary…Time to get on that Midnight Train to Georgia and slay ‘em! Go Hawks!

      • art thiel

        Baldwin said he was in the wrong place and caught the ball intended for Kearse, Baldwin said he felt bad and apologized.

        • It’s only Sports

          Yeah I read that after I read your piece Art…in fact I saw him on channel 5 and he seemed genuinely sorry if pain on his face was a barometer.

    • art thiel

      That’s five days a week, because buttcatches are hard.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Again, they looked good in the second half. They are going to need a quicker start against Atlanta. I’m not sure what that means in terms of play calling but probably play action with a rollout and maybe a scramble.

    • art thiel

      Well, they know they can run.

    • MrPrimeMinister

      Re–quicker starts, the Lions, the recent 49er game, last year’s Carolina playoff game. Please no repeats.

  • It’s only Sports

    I think the hangover of self doubt hang over in not being able to get over the hump to beat an Arizona team that lets face it was putrid lasted about 5 Qtrs. They clearly looked out of sorts to start the SF game and you might say they sort of stumbled to a win against the Santa Clara 53.Pete after the game said we are hoping its just an “Arizona thing”. He was implying that it could be AZ just had their number but that is now over with since we wont see them in the play offs.
    Then they had a rough 1st qtr yesterday getting things moving against the comeback kids…the Lions.
    But they eventually shook it off….looked around and began to feed off of the stadiums energy and slowly began to take care of business. Began to build on their talent pool and play off experience in what was the start of this play off journey. They reached for that inner confidence they know they have.
    Kudos to Rawls for breaking the single game play off yardage total…that was impressive.
    And what can you say about our QB? He is the only QB in NFL History to have started his career winning his 1st play off game in his first 5 seasons. It was a good 3rd round for Seattle in 2012.
    They are facing a worthy opponent but it is one they are familiar with. They are not facing the ice bowl from Hell. I will take Southern weather in the winter anytime. Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Just be happy the Seahawks aren’t in ATL this weekend.

      • It’s only Sports

        Yeah true. They needed this confidence booster. Good win and now SEA gets a team they know they are familiar with. It will be fun to cover it. Enjoy Art. Go Hawks!

  • Diamond Mask

    “Thou shalt carry the sacred skin until thy swords run with the blood of infidels.”

    Winner!

    • art thiel

      Always read First Avians, Ch. 1. Bk.1

  • MrPrimeMinister

    It was a wonderful overall team effort. Yet, “Pete” continues to tempt the football gods. The proper call on 4th and goal from the 2 at that point in the game is to take the 3 points.

    • art thiel

      As the world knows, we should always do the proper thing.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        It’s a game of probabilities.

        • 1coolguy

          I don’t understand why they don’t run a QB option when they are down there. Russ hands off, or runs or passes – one of those will work and if not he can throw it away. I like having the ball in his hands with the option.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            I liked the naked bootleg, but that is not possible anymore.

    • Eric K

      Not necessarily, if you don’t make it the Lions have the ball on their own goal line, their offense was doing nothing so you have a great chance that worst case your right back in FG range.

    • Bruce McDermott

      I think that is right. Pete’s a gut coach. Personally, I don’t trust his “gut” as much as he does, put it that way. An example of his “gut” at work that comes to mind first, of Pete “getting hormonal,” as he once put it, comes when the Hawks have recently scored, the first half is nearing completion and the opponent is fairly deep in its own territory. Opponent gets very little on first down, obviously intending to run out the clock….and Pete calls a timeout. One minute or so later, the opponent is 50+ yards downfield and threatening to score. Drives me nuts.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        I was screaming through my television when i saw them line up.

  • ll9956

    When Russell was streaking down the field to make a block for Rawls, that was the fastest I’ve seen him move since his injuries.

    • 1coolguy

      Lucky he wasn’t called for a clip, as he pushed the guy in the back.

  • Gerald Turner

    “Out of chaos, comes order.” Nietzche

  • 1coolguy

    It’s really weird how the Hawks cannot get going offensively in the first quarter. It is also frustrating that a pass to Baldwin, like the 42 yarder to Baldwin in the FOURTH quarter doesn’t happen in the first. The lack of down field passing plays early really makes it just that more difficult to get the run game going, even though against the weak Lions D we were able to. Imagine the running game after RW connects on a few 20+ yarders – it would make life so much easier for the O line. The pass to Baldwin was a dime, perfect and in stride.
    As to Richardson, he gets great separation – aside from his focus and ability to catch tough catches (RW’s pass in the end zone was SO under thrown!) watching him makes me forget about Lockett pretty easily.
    Interesting about Graham – I haven’t been able to figure out why he doesn’t get more passes and the other day Hugh Millen hit the nail right on the head – He doesn’t run crisp routes and doesn’t get separation. I watched his route running against the Lions and it is so true – he just runs a pattern, rounding his turns and the D was always all over him. You’d think the receivers coach would be all over that. In so many words, Millen was saying Graham under performs and I agree.
    The UW DAWG Reece has really filled the fullback/blocker/receiver position very well. He has been a real addition and as they integrate him he’ll be even more effective.

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