By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
ATLANTA — With all of the attention focused on Marshawn Lynch, Atlanta’s running back duo of Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers had something to prove.
And facing a Seattle defense that heading into the Sunday’s contest was giving up just 103.1 yards per game, the Falcons showed they can still pound the rock.
Turner rumbled for 98 yards on 14 carries, and the cat-quick Rodgers added another 64 yards on 10 carries.
The Falcons finished with 167 rushing yards, the most Seattle’s defense had given up since a Week 12 matchup at Miami during the regular season.
Atlanta came into the game averaging just 87 yards a contest during the regular season, 29th in the league. The Falcons finished with four runs of 15 or more yards.
“They are a tough and physical unit for sure,” Rodgers said. “However, we wanted to use their aggressive style of defense against them. Because they play eight men in the box, we thought we could gash them for big plays.”
The Seahawks did a much better job against the run in the second half, giving up just 34 rushing yards.
“We just started doing what we do,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We made plays in the backfield, picks — all that stuff. We should have done that sooner. Then we wouldn’t have been in that predicament.”
While Atlanta’s running game thrived, Lynch and Seattle’s running game struggled.
Lynch finished with just 46 yards on 16 carries for a pedestrian 2.9 per carry average. The Cal product had been nursing a foot injury all week, and did not appear to be at 100 percent.
Lynch also lost a fumble for the second consecutive week. He was stripped of the ball by Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux recovered.
The turnover led to a 1-yard touchdown catch for Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Lynch’s 46 yards was his lowest output since Seattle’s game against Miami in Week 12 of the regular season (also 46 rushing yards).
The Seahawks finished with 123 rushing yards as a team, and quarterback Russell Wilson led Seattle in rushing with 60 yards on seven carries.
“The number one must going into the week was to stop Marshawn Lynch,” Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said. “The guy’s up front won the line of scrimmage in the run game.”