If Marshawn Lynch were an animated character, he'd be the Tasmanian Devil of the old Looney Tunes cartoons, minus the flying spit.
Lynch ran for 140 yards on 21 carries and scored four touchdowns as the Seahawks shook off a lackluster first half to storm the New York Giants and win going away, 38-17. 'Marshawn Lynch is our engine,'' remarked Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin after the game. ''Everything runs through him.''
Each Team Had Something to Prove
Both the Seahawks and the Giants had something to prove coming into Sunday's game at Century Link Field in Seattle. Despite ranking second in rushing yardage, the defending champions were having difficulty replicating the kind of punishing ground attack that led to their Super Bowl run last year. For New York, it was an opportunity to show that despite their recent struggles, they could remain a factor in the NFC wild card race.
The Seahawks were on a two-game winning streak, but had not put together a complete game since their opening-day 36-16 triumph over the Green Bay Packers. With the ugly Percy Harvin divorce in their rear-view mirror and a brutal second-half schedule on the horizon, they hoped to get back to their roots, and fast.
If this game was any indication, the 2013 version of the Seahawks may have finally entered the building — just in the nick of time.
The Seahawks and Giants Traded Scores in the First Quarter
After the Giants' opening drive quickly stalled, Seattle opened the scoring by marching 80 yards in 3:19 for the game-tying touchdown. Key plays during the drive were a Russell Wilson 23-yard swing pass to Lynch, a 25-yard connection to backup tight end Cooper Helfet, and a 14-yard Lynch run off left tackle to the New York 11 yard line. Two plays later, Lynch took it in from the one for the early 7-0 lead.
The Giants responded later in the quarter, courtesy of a Zack Bowman interception of Wilson's pass intended for rookie wideout Paul Richardson. Starting from the Seahawks' 24 yard line, quarterback Eli Manning threw a series of short passes, the last one reaching paydirt from six yards out to wide receive Preston Parker. After one quarter, the game was tied 7-7.
The Giants Took the Lead
In the second quarter, the Giants went ahead 14-7, thanks in large measure to two long Eli Manning strikes to standout rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, measuring 44 and 29 yards, respectively. After a Seattle timeout, running back Andre Williams took it in from the three yard line, moving New York into the lead.
Undaunted, the Seahawks put together a 13-play, 85-yard march starting from the to:22 mark to tie the game just after the two minute warning. Key to the drive were numerous runs from both Lynch and Wilson, with two short passes thrown in for good measure. Lynch's 2-yard touchdown plunge culminated the drive, his second of the afternoon.
A two-minute drill by the Giants ended with a Josh Brown field goal as time expired, edging the Giants ahead at halftime, 17-14.
"Offensively we moved it, but not enough was done, score-wise," said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks Go 'Beast Mode' in the Second Half
The Giants more than held their own in the first half, but could not keep up with Seattle after half time, particularly in the fourth quarter.
After just one tally in the third quarter (a Steven Hauschka 28-yard field goal), the Seahawks ran the Giants literally off the gridiron in the fourth. They outgained the Giants 174-34, with all but 19 of those yards on the ground. "We rushed for 200 yards in the second half and just really controlled the football game," said Carroll, summing up Seattle's ground domination.
Seattle found the end zone three more times: Lynch touchdown runs of three and 16 yards, and a final 1-yard Russell Wilson rushing touchdown with 5:32 remaining in the game, expanding the lead to 38-17.
Seattle literally ran around and over the Giants in the fourth quarter and made a clear statement in the process: their bruising ground game was back. The misdirection and trickery of the Percy Harvin era was a failed experiment, quickly forgotten. The Seahawks are at their best while executing a power running game, with no further proof necessary than the overwhelming fourth quarter against the Giants.
When the final horn sounded, the Seahawks had indeed found themselves, winning their third straight game in the process. The Giants remained lost, having fallen for the fourth time in a row.
Doug Baldwin had praise for the Giants' effort. "We found a way to pull it out. That’s football man. That’s just the way it is. You have to give their guys on the other side of the ball a lot of credit. The record might not reflect the best, but that’s a talented team over there."
Jermaine Kearse discussed the team's post-Harvin adjustments. “Losing an explosive player like Percy is a tough loss. But we have some guys that are stepping up. You know, me and Doug are trying to get the young guys going and they’ve really done a lot of great things for us so we’re going to continue to try to help them get going and continue to learn ourselves and get better ourselves and work on that chemistry with Russell and just get that passing game going.”
Coach Pete Carroll, summing up the overall effort: "It’s a really good statement for our guys up front. We saw Max come back and Russell come back and we have a huge day running the football. I understand it’s a franchise record, I guess. 350, which is fantastic. They did a great job up front. It was really exciting to see those guys back together and have that much success. I thought Marshawn was just extraordinary today. His open field work, his tough work in the piles and moving the piles forward was just incredibly good, and he scored 4 touchdowns on the day. It was just a huge day. I’m real proud of him. I really liked the way we finished this football game in general. That’s what we like."
The Seahawks travel to Kansas City for a key game against the Chiefs next Sunday. After that, the team faces a tough closing stretch of five divisional games over the final six weeks, including a Thanksgiving day game against the San Francisco 49ers.