By Todd Fredrickson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Who knows how long Frank Omiyale will be the starting left tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.
Everybody with a rooting interest will be pulling for Russell Okung to make a speedy recovery from his knee injury and rejoin the lineup next week against Green Bay.
But even if it lasts for only one game, Omiyale will be known as one of the few who got the better of defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Ware, a six-time starter in the Pro Bowl who topped 100 career sacks last week, was all but invisible as the Seahawks thrashed the Dallas Cowboys 27-7 in Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field.
“Our plan was to hope he didn’t kill us,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of Ware. “He (Omiyale) did great. He did great to make it through the game. He was one of the first guys I mentioned in the locker room.
“That was a classic example of a guy having to step up and play like a first-teamer, and today he did,” Carroll said. “Today he did, and he gave us a great game, and I’m really proud of him for that.”
Omiyale was a full-time starter for only one of his first seven years in the NFL, with Atlanta and Chicago, and the Seahawks signed him as a free agent this year hoping they’d never have to use him.
But the NFL isn’t like that, and Omiyale was pressed into duty when Okung left last week’s game against Arizona with a bruised knee.
Ware had eight tackles, which looks good on the stat sheet, but none were noteworthy, and he rarely got close to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I had a good week of practice, and I’m just glad I was able to carry that into the game,” Omiyale said. “I was just going with the calls. It makes you feel the best that you were able to come through for your teammates. That’s what kept pushing me.”
Omiyale became the 10th different offensive lineman to start for the Seahawks in the last 10 games dating back to last season.
Even though they can’t seem to stay healthy, they have played well during that stretch, winning six of those 10 games.
“It’s almost like we don’t even have a starting lineup anymore,” center Max Unger said. “We’re kind of at the point where you can plug guys in and play them, and that’s kind of where we need to be. It’s a physical game. Injuries are part of it.”
“We’ve got to be able to plug and play,” said Unger, the only Seattle lineman to start the last 12 games at the same position. “That’s kind of how this league works.”
The Seahawks also played Dallas last season, in their eighth game, and it was in the week leading up to that game that Carroll and assistant head coach Tom Cable decided that Seattle had to become a running team.
In the first seven games of last season, the Seahawks ran for more than 100 yards only twice, and featured running back Marshawn Lynch averaged less than 44 rushing yards per game. They were 2-5.
In the 11 games since, Seattle is averaging 137.4 rushing yards per game, Lynch has eight games of at least 100 yards, and he is averaging 104.4 yards per game.
“Before that game, we didn’t know our identity,” Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. “After that Dallas game last year we came out saying, ‘You know what. This is what we want to be.’ Since that game, we’ve been handing that ball off.”
On Sunday, Lynch had 26 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown, and Seattle ran for 182 yards as a team. Wilson had a comfortable day in the pocket with two sacks, both on blitzes. He felt little pressure from the Cowboys’ base pass rush.
It was a dominant performance by a bunch of guys who are still getting to know each other.
“Even in the middle of the game I looked up and saw 100 (rushing) yards, and I said, ‘Shoot, let’s go for 200,’” tackle Breno Giacomini said. “That’s our motto. We want to run the ball as offensive linemen and then protect the quarterback.”
“It was a team effort today. We all did well. It means something,” Omiyale said of the offensive numbers the Seahawks put up on a good Dallas defense.
“It means that the O-line is doing a job. When you’ve got a great back like Marshawn you don’t want to hold him back,” Omiyale said. “You want to get him in the secondary and let him do his thing.”
Whether Omiyale gets to do his thing again next week remains to be seen.
But if he has to — er, gets to — it looks like the Seahawks will be just fine.
“Frank stepped up and did a tremendous job, an unbelievable job,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”