By Rich Myhre and John Boyle Herald Writers
SEATTLE — One week after showing unhappiness at his opportunities against the St. Louis Rams — he gained just 23 yards on eight carries — Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch bounced back in a big way against Tampa Bay.
Lynch, Seattle’s leading rusher, churned for 125 yards on 21 attempts in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime victory over the Buccaneers. It was his season-best rushing total, topping the 102 yards on 17 carries he had against Indianapolis on Oct. 6.
And Lynch was at his best in overtime, carrying on six of Seattle’s first plays from scrimmage for 44 yards after a Tampa Bay punt. His last run was for 13 yards, giving the Seahawks a first-and-goal from the Buccaneers 6 and setting up a 27-yard game-winning field goal by place-kicker Steven Hauschka moments later.
“We believe (Lynch) is as good as it gets, and we want to find ways to get the football to him,” said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. “He did a great job. He’s just so resilient. He’s kind of our motto, just being so tough no matter what the circumstances are.”
“This is one of the top-ranked defenses against the run (in the NFL) and we had a lot of respect for what they’re doing and the problems they create,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “We rushed for (almost) 200 yards and Marshawn gets (125), so that’s a big day against these guys. We really moved the line of scrimmage and did an excellent job.”
Lynch, who does not talk to the media, left the game for a time in the first quarter because he was “sick to his stomach from the fast start,” Carroll said. “It took him a while to get back. … But I thought he ran great today. He was just a warrior out there.”
Max Unger left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion, putting Lemuel Jeanpierre into the game at center. Unger will have to go through the league-mandated concussion protocol, so his availability for next week’s game will likely be in question until late in the week.
Even before that injury, however, the Seahawks had done some offensive line shuffling.
At one point in the second quarter, rookie Alvin Bailey came in at left tackle, with Paul McQuistan moving from that spot to left guard, and James Carpenter coming out of the game. Carpenter eventually returned with Bailey coming out. Right tackle Michael Bowie injured his knee on Seattle’s second-quarter touchdown, but was back the next time Seattle had the ball in the third quarter.
“We just wanted to get Alvin going a little bit,” Carroll said. “Just in a competitive sense, the guy’s been working hard, we’ve waited a long time to give him a shot. We’d like to get him a little bit more as we go and just see if we can bring him along.”
Seattle has been playing without both starting tackles, Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini, but both appear on track to return soon. Okung and Giacomini went through a pregame workout with offensive line coach Tom Cable, and both appeared to be moving without limitation.
Okung, who is on the injured reserve/designated to return list with a toe injury, cannot play until the Nov. 17 game against Minnesota at the earliest, but is eligible to return to practice, and is expected to do so Wednesday, as is Giacomini, who is recovering from knee surgery.
“They had really good workouts in pregame,” Carroll said. “We’ll see them next week, we’re really excited about that.”
There was head scratching on the Seattle sideline during the game and in the team’s locker room after the game about a second-quarter pass interference penalty called against Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
In replays, it appeared that Thomas played the ball perfectly, and he even intercepted the pass along the sideline, though it was possible he did not come down with both feet inbounds (because of the penalty, the play was never reviewed by league officials).
It was a huge penalty because it gave Tampa Bay a first down at the Seattle 22 and set up the Buccaneers’ first touchdown.
“I really disagreed with that call,” Carroll said. “They said (Thomas) had his hand on him or something, but Earl played the play perfectly. I didn’t get to see a replay of it, but just watching it, that should have been a great play for us.”
Thomas said he never got an explanation from officials on the field, but said “they were kind of messing with me the whole game. They must have seen something on film they don’t like about the way I play, but I don’t know.”
Sunday’s game was a chance for the Seahawks to honor their 1983 team, which reached the NFL playoffs for the first time in team history. Players from that team, and there were close to 40 on hand, participated in the pregame 12th Man flag raising and then were introduced on the field at halftime.
Among the players at the game were defensive linemen Jacob Green and Jeff Bryant, quarterbacks Dave Krieg and Jim Zorn, and wide receiver Steve Largent. All are in the team’s Ring of Honor at CenturyLink Field.
Homecoming for ex-Huskies
Tampa Bay has three former University of Washington players on its roster — defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, linebacker Mason Foster and safety Dashon Goldson.
It was the first NFL game in Seattle for Foster, a third-year player. “It was loud, really loud,” he said. “But you know that’s how Seattle fans are. We were prepared for it. We knew how loud it would be.”
It was also a chance for Foster to reunite with Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, whom he calls “one of my best friends.” It was, Foster added, “good to see (Kearse) do good. It was great to play against him and see him make a lot of plays.”
Sunday’s game was also a homecoming of sorts for Seattle fullback Michael Robinson. After playing the last three seasons for the Seahawks, Robinson was released during the preseason and then re-signed on Oct. 22. He played a week ago in St. Louis, but Sunday’s game was his first back at CenturyLink Field.
“To be back in CenturyLink with all of the fans, man, you miss that,” he said. “There are a lot of things about the game that you don’t miss (when you’re not playing), but you definitely miss these fans.”
Great under pressure
Steven Hauschka’s game-winning overtime field goal was his second this season, following a similar kick in a 23-20 OT win at Houston on Sept. 29.
“I want it to come down to me because the last couple of years we’ve had some games come down to overtime and I haven’t had a chance to kick the ball,” Hauschka said. “I love that opportunity. That’s what I train for all offseason, so I was excited to get out there and win the game for the team.
“It was a good job by our offense to get the ball down to the 6-yard line and make it an easy kick,” he added.