Seahawks, with running game and defense, find themselves again vs. Giants
The Seahawks say they know again who they really are. In a game they had to have to make anything of 2014, they turned in what they hope is a defining performance, rushing for a team-record 350 yards in beating the New York Giants, 38-17.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Just in time to find out where this season is truly headed, the Seahawks say they again know who they really are.
In a game they had to have to make anything of 2014, the Seahawks turned in what they hope is a defining performance, rushing for a team-record 350 yards Sunday in beating the New York Giants, 38-17.
The Seahawks scored the final 21 points, all in the fourth quarter, to snap a 17-17 tie.
Those 15 minutes, coach Pete Carroll said later, set the template for the rest of the season.
“I like where we’re going,’’ Carroll said after the Seahawks improved to 6-3 with their third straight win. “I really do. I told them last night that I think we’ve made a big shift in the last three weeks. ... I think we’re playing the style of football that we want to play and that we’re most comfortable with.”
That means leading with the run on offense — Seattle had a season-high 45 rushing attempts compared to 17 passes, with Marshawn Lynch running for 140 yards and four touchdowns.
And they backed it up with a ball-hawking defense. The game turned for good on Earl Thomas’ interception in the end zone late in the third quarter on a pass tipped by New York’s Odell Beckham Jr., who was closely covered by Richard Sherman.
“That’s us,” Carroll said.
The rediscovered identity comes as the Seahawks enter the uphill portion of their schedule — six straight games against winning teams that all have playoff hopes of their own. Seattle plays at Kansas City (6-3) this Sunday.
“This team can be as good as it wants,” said defensive lineman Michael Bennett. “We already went to the Super Bowl.”
True, but during a five-game stretch that featured losses to San Diego, Dallas and St. Louis, sandwiched around the Percy Harvin trade and talk of internal strife, it was hard not to wonder if that team was potentially lost for good.
Wins the past three weeks against Carolina, Oakland and the Giants, in which the Seahawks averaged 206 yards rushing and forced seven turnovers, though, have brought back the 2013 feel.
Carroll, in fact, said after the game that the turn this team has made seems similar to the one the 2013 team made after a midseason stretch when it narrowly beat St. Louis and Tampa Bay while allowing more than 200 yards rushing in each.
“I think we’ve made the same kind of shift,” Carroll said. “It’s almost like a polar shift. ... we went right back to fundamentals. We went right back to the basics of what we want to be as a team. And the players, they just decided that they were ready to really take this next step. We thought we were doing all right, but there was another big step to take.”
They’ll need to take another one to survive the stretch that looms.
But Sunday felt somewhat Super again, with the Seahawks able to impose their will on the Giants, even if it took a little longer than desired. Two Seattle turnovers in the first half allowed the Giants to take a 17-14 halftime lead.
But after the Giants gained 224 total yards in the first half, they had just 100 in the second.
And the Seattle offense, which had 149 rushing yards on 21 carries in the first half, did whatever it wanted to the Giants in the second. Seattle had 201 yards rushing in the final two quarters, including 146 in the fourth.
The Seahawks upped the tempo of their offense a bit, but said there were no big scheme changes.
Instead, as center Max Unger said, they just pulled out a little bit of everything from the rushing playbook — the zone-read bootlegs, straight powers — and were able to make almost all of it work. That it all worked so well in the first game back for Unger since he hurt his foot at Washington on Oct. 6 wasn’t a coincidence.
“We kind of got pretty deep into it,” said Unger. “Ran out of a bunch of a different stuff, a variety of runs that set other stuff up, too.”
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell laughed when asked what worked so well about the running game.
“Everything,’’ he said.
Wilson rushed for 107 yards, the third time this season he has topped 100, and Christine Michael had a career-high 71 on just four carries.
“I mean, I think we’re tough to defend,” Bevell said. “With Russell’s ability to pull the ball and run, I think it’s trouble because of Marshawn Lynch.”
It all left the Giants feeling flabbergasted.
“I think it’s a little bit worse than embarrassing,” said safety Antrel Rolle, who later said of the Wilson runs that “they ran the same play all day long.”
Added coach Tom Coughlin: “It’s hard to believe what you saw in the second half.”
The Seahawks hope it’s something they see again and again.
|What a rush!|
|The Seahawks set a team record for rushing yards in a game on Sunday, gaining 350 and outpacing their previous best by 30 yards. Their other top rushing games:|
|Giants||Nov. 9, 2014||350|
|Texans||Oct. 16, 2005||320|
|Raiders||Nov. 11, 2001||319|
|Broncos||Dec. 20, 1986||298|