By Todd Fredrickson Special to The Herald
SEATTLE — With all the excitement about turnovers and touchdowns being scored on defense and special teams, it was easy to overlook the performance of Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch.
But Lynch set a team record for yards per carry and a personal best for yards in a season during the Seahawks’ 58-0 rout of Arizona on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Lynch ran the ball 11 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns. His average of 11.6 yards per carry smashed the team record of 8.9 set by Sherman Smith in a game against Atlanta in 1976, the Seahawks’ inaugural NFL season.
And he brought his season total to 1,266 yards, topping the 1,204 yards he had last season.
Rookie backup Robert Turbin also topped 100 yards for the Seahawks, gaining 108 yards on 20 carries. Altogether, Seattle rushed for 284 yards, the fourth-highest total in team history.
It was the first time Seattle had two backs top 100 yards in the same game since 2005, when Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris did it in a game against Houston.
“The system works. That was awesome,” Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. “Marshawn has been through this before, but to see Turbin’s face, knowing he had 100 yards, his first 100-yard game, it was definitely gratifying to see.”
Speaking of 100 yards
Seattle tight end Anthony McCoy had 105 yards on just three receptions, the first 100-yard game of his three-year career and the first 100-yard receiving game by any Seahawk this season.
His biggest play was a 67-yard reception on the last play of the first quarter, most of which was an impressive run after the catch.
“He made an unbelievable play,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “He’s really, really improving every week, every game. As I throw to him more and more, we’re really clicking.”
Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw his first regular-season passes for the Seahawks, completing five of nine for 68 yards after the game became a blowout.
Flynn signed with Seattle in the off-season as a high-profile free agent but couldn’t beat out Wilson, who earned the starting job as a rookie.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that it might have looked bad having Flynn throwing the ball with Seattle leading by 40-plus points, but he said he had to let him see some real action.
“Matt just needs to throw the ball around some. We did a little bit of everything,” Carroll said. “Just to get him a chance to get some confidence. Hopefully, everybody understands that.”
At least publically, Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn’t upset about it.
“They’re doing their thing,” he said. “I have no comment on that other than to say it’s our job to stop them, and we didn’t get that done.”
Absent injuries, it’s unusual to see an NFL team rotate offensive linemen during a game, but the Seahawks did so as John Moffitt and rookie J.R. Sweezy shared time at right guard.
With James Carpenter out for the season, the Seahawks moved Paul McQuistan to left guard, his more natural position, and used both Moffitt and Sweezy on the right side.
“Just let both guys play,” Carroll said. “They’re working hard, they competed all week at it, and we were just letting them go at it. You don’t always get that opportunity, but that’s what we did today.”
Seattle wide receiver Sidney Rice said he had no problem with the huge hit he took from Arizona safety Rashad Johnson after an 18-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Johnson was called for a personal foul after stopping Rice dead in his tracks by slamming his shoulder into Rice’s chest.
Rice, who was not shaken up, said he thought it was a clean hit.
“I don’t think he leveled his helmet or anything. He just caught me in my chest,” Rice said.
He was asked what a defensive back is supposed to do in that situation to avoid a penalty call.
“I have no idea. You can ask the league that,” Rice said. “I don’t know what it is. It was a clean hit.”
All the breaks
As evidence that Seattle got every conceivable break, consider that the only way you can score on a muffed punt is if the ball goes into the end zone before you recover it because you cannot advance a muff.
And that’s exactly what happened in the second quarter.
Arizona’s Patrick Peterson muffed a punt at the Arizona 12-yard line. The ball pinballed off several players, and Seattle’s Malcolm Smith caught it like a basketball rebound just as it crossed the goal line to make the score 31-0 with his first career touchdown.
“I don’t know how I ended up with the ball,” said Smith, who also made his second straight start at linebacker. “I know the ball was flipping around. Jeremy Lane tipped it up, it tipped off of someone’s hand, and then there was like three of us going up for it. It was like a jump ball and I tipped it my way and caught it.
“I guess I was in the end zone.”
Carroll said Seattle safety Chris Maragos suffered a hamstring strain, but that the team otherwise came out of the game healthy.
Linebacker Leroy Hill, who was inactive last week because of an ankle injury, did suit up and was available if needed. Carroll, however, opted to start Smith again and give Hill some more rest.
“He was ready to play,” Carroll said of Hill.
“He had a good workout before, so we dressed him in case we needed him, but we would rather hold him if we could.”