SEATTLE — Something had to give.
The Seattle Seahawks came into Saturday’s game with one of the league’s hottest running backs in Marshawn Lynch, while the San Francisco 49ers offered up the league’s top-ranked rushing defense and two very impressive streaks. Prior to Saturday’s game, which would end with a 19-17 49ers victory, San Francisco had not allowed a rushing touchdown this season, and hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 36 games dating back to November of 2009.
Lynch broke both of those streaks, gaining 107 yards on 21 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Seattle’s 126 rushing yards was also the highest total this season against the 49ers, who came into the game allowing 71.5 rushing yards per game.
Of course none of that meant much given the end result.
“It was nice to do that, but it really doesn’t mean too much when we lose,” said Seahawks center Max Unger.
Even so, Lynch’s big game was another encouraging sign for a team that, seven games into the season, had the league’s 31st ranked rushing attack. Since that time, Lynch has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of eight games, and he has now scored a touchdown in 11 straight games, extending his own franchise record. Making the run-game progress even more impressive is the fact that the Seahawks are playing without three of their five starting linemen.
“Today our guys blocked them like the other teams that we’ve played,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I thought that was really, really stellar on our guys’ part. Nobody has blocked them like that. … Those guys are really good.”
Just like in practice
Credit backup linebacker Heath Farwell with one of Seattle’s biggest special teams plays of the season.
And credit the Seahawks coaching staff with making it happen from some savvy film study.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Farwell came through the left side of San Francisco’s line to block a 49ers punt. The ball bounced back to the San Francisco 4-yard line where it was recovered by the 49ers, giving the Seahawks a first-and-goal. Lynch scored on the next play to give Seattle a 17-16 lead.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the margin did not stand up. San Francisco got a field goal on its next possession, and those points were the eventual winning margin.
“It felt good,” Farwell said of the blocked punt. “I just wish we could’ve won the game. … We needed a big play and I was hoping it was going to be the game winner, but we weren’t able to pull it out.”
From studying game films, Seattle’s coaching staff determined that San Francisco special teams player Blake Costanzo was quick to release from the line of scrimmage to sprint downfield to cover the kick. So they devised a play where Farwell would bluff blocking Costanzo at the line of scrimmage, and then slip past to rush the punter.
The Seahawks practiced the play all week, and with the game on the line “it worked out the way it did in practice,” said Farwell, who is in his seventh NFL season after playing the previous six years with Minnesota. “At that time we were down, so it was a big play in the game. And it would have been an unbelievable feeling if that would’ve been the game winner. But that’s football. It doesn’t always work out that way.”
It was Ricardo Lockette’s first NFL game and it hardly could have started any better for the rookie wide receiver.
On Seattle’s second play from scrimmage, Lockette ran a deep route up the right sideline and the pass from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson dropped over his shoulder for a 44-yard completion. The play led to an early Seahawks touchdown.
Seattle’s coaches had scripted the game’s first several plays the night before, “so I kind of had it in my mind,” Lockette said. “I knew how I was going to run the route … and I saw the ball in the air at least 1,000 times in my dreams. So when it came time to do it, it was a piece of cake.”
Earlier this year Lockette was signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of Fort Valley State in Fort Valley, Ga., a Division II school. He was released on Sept. 3, but re-signed to Seattle’s practice squad the next day. He was added to the 53-man roster on Dec. 14, but was inactive for last week’s game against Chicago.
But with wide receiver Mike Williams breaking his left leg against the Bears, Lockette got his chance on Saturday.
“It was amazing,” he said of his first NFL game and first reception. “A dream come true.”
The only injury sustained Saturday, according to Carroll, was a knee strain to receiver Ben Obomanu. While the severity of the injury won’t likely be known until Monday, any injury at receiver is a concern for a team that already has starters Williams and Sidney Rice on injured reserve.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog