Seahawks notebook: Brandon Mebane’s injury causes concern even as others return
Having Max Unger back at center helps running game hit 350 yards
Seattle Times staff reporters
Center Max Unger talked afterward of being happy to “knock off the rust’’ after playing for the first time in four weeks — the longest he has ever had to sit out in his NFL career.
“It was interesting for me, just getting back in the groove,’’ said Unger, who helped paved the way for Seattle to rush for a team-record 350 yards.
Seattle also welcomed back cornerbacks Byron Maxwell (out three games with ankle/calf injuries) and Jeremy Lane (eight games with a groin injury), and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (four games with a sprained ankle).
In something too typical of this Seattle season, though, the Seahawks didn’t emerge unscathed.
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane left in the second quarter with what coach Pete Carroll said was a pulled hamstring. Tight end Luke Willson exited in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.
The loss of Mebane could be particularly problematic. He has played, in the words of Carroll, as well as at any time in his career and is a key reason the Seahawks lead the NFL in run defense.
Carroll said he didn’t know the seriousness of Mebane’s injury.
Fellow defensive lineman Cliff Avril said it was hard to see Mebane go out.
“We just had to play for him,’’ Avril said. “Brandon is one of the big anchors for us. He doesn’t get enough credit for us, but he’s an anchor for us on defense. ... But I think he’ll bounce back. We just wanted to play for him and make sure there wasn’t any slack with him gone.”
Carroll also predicted safety Kam Chancellor will return this Sunday at Kansas City after sitting out the past two weeks with a groin injury. Jeron Johnson made his first career start in place of Chancellor and led the Seahawks with eight tackles.
Bailey on the spot
The Seahawks made it more interesting than needed on a fourth-quarter drive that gave them a 31-17 lead, fumbling twice in the span of three plays — one by Russell Wilson and the other by Marshawn Lynch.
Wilson’s fumble was recovered by offensive guard Alvin Bailey, but only after the ball squirted out of a pile.
Wilson fumbled at New York’s 17-yard line, and Bailey recovered at the 24.
Asked later why he wasn’t in the pile, Bailey smiled. “I was still blocking my guy. … I just hadn’t gotten there yet,” he said.
A Lynch fumble two plays later was recovered by rookie receiver Paul Richardson.
Each of the recoveries kept alive a drive that ended in a 16-yard touchdown run by Lynch.
Michael has a big day
Running back Christine Michael, in his second year with Seattle, had his best day as a Seahawk on his 24th birthday.
Michael had four carries for a career-high 71 yards. He’d never rushed for more than 37 yards in a game, and that came in mop-up duty during a blowout last year.
Michael has largely been a mystery during his brief career — a player with huge potential who hasn’t played much.
But he had a 45-yard run against the Giants in which he showed his explosiveness, and he had another 9-yard run near the end zone in which he took a handoff and ran outside before cutting up the field.
All of Michael’s 14 carries this year have come since the trade of receiver Percy Harvin.
“You saw him on the edge a couple of times, and he really showed his burst on the big run he had as well,” Carroll said. “He’s been coming. We’ve seen it happen in the last few weeks, and we’ve been working for opportunities, and it’s been great to see him get a bunch.”
• The Seahawks rank first in the NFL with 5.5 yards per carry and first defensively in allowing only 3.2 yards per carry. According to FootballPerspective.com, that differential of 2.3 yards per carry not only leads the NFL, it’s the second-biggest gap in NFL history behind only the 1939 Chicago Bears.