By Rich Myhre and Nick Patterson
SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks’ rushing offense is still a work in progress, but there were certainly positive strides in Sunday’s 37-18 victory over San Francisco at CenturyLink Field.
Credit goes to Seattle’s offensive line, which did its best job of opening running lanes in three games this season, and to running back Christine Michael, who carried 20 times for a career-best 106 yards, with touchdown runs of 41 and 4 yards.
Michael, the fourth-year player out of Texas A&M, was Seattle’s leading rusher in the first two games against Miami and Los Angeles, but his totals were modest. He had 66 of the Seahawks’ 112 rushing yards against Miami on Sept. 11, and 60 of the team’s 67 yards on the ground vs. Los Angeles on Sept. 18.
But on Sunday, and with fellow running backs C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls out with injuries, Michael stepped up impressively. And his best moment came on his first carry, a 41-yard burst through the left side where he went virtually untouched on a dash to the end zone.
Much of the credit for that play, Michael pointed out, goes to the offensive line for opening such a big hole. “It was amazing from all those guys,” he said.
As for his own performance, “I just want to help this offense as much as possible,” he said. “It’s a great offense when the run game is going. … We just play our best when we’re able to run the ball. It opens up so much stuff.”
As the Seahawks try to re-establish their running game in the post-Marshawn Lynch era, Michael’s play on Sunday pleased head coach Pete Carroll.
“That’s the best quickness we’ve seen (from him),” Carroll said. “His confidence is there, so he’s utilizing his explosiveness. He gets out of control a little bit because (everything) is happening so fast, so we’re talking about just slowing it down when he gets in the open field because he’s got great moves.
“He’s going to get better. He’s going to improve. … He’s playing great football for this team, so I’m really excited for that,” Carroll said.
Added wide receiver Doug Baldwin: “We’re not surprised because we always knew (Michael) had it in him. Sometimes you just have to evolve with the offense and evolve with yourself as you get older. He’s made the best of his opportunities and he’s never taken it for granted. And you see his hard work paying off right now.”
Rawls, who was considered doubtful for the game because of a bruised shin suffered the previous week, was left inactive. So was Prosise, who was listed as questionable because of a cracked bone in his wrist. Also sitting the game out because of injury were guard Germain Ifedi (ankle) and tight end Nick Vannett (ankle), who each missed his third straight games.
Other than quarterback Russell Wilson’s sprained knee, the Seahawks suffered no significant injuries during the game.
When Russell Wilson left the game briefly in the third quarter with a knee injury, backup QB Trevone Boykin trotted out for his first NFL snap. It was just one play and then Wilson returned, but later in the period Wilson went to the sideline for good and Boykin, a rookie out of TCU, played the final 21 minutes.
Boykin attempted nine passes and completed seven for 65 yards with one touchdown, a 16-yarder to wide receiver Doug Baldwin. He also threw an interception.
In the locker room, Boykin admitted he was nervous “but you try not to show it. I just went out there and tried to be me like I am every day at practice. That’s what we practice for.”
Though he certainly lacks game experience, “as far as concepts I feel like I know everything,” Boykin said. “It’s just (a matter of getting) more repetitions (at practice) to get better.”
As for his first NFL touchdown pass, “It was great,” he said. “It was definitely one of the moments I will remember more than anything.”
“It was great to get him out there,” Carroll said. “He was very poised. He was very calm about going out.” And with this experience under his belt, “he can jump in whenever we need him (in the future),” Carroll added.
Still taking a knee
Though it passed without a lot of fanfare, 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued his season-long protest by kneeling during the national anthem. He was joined by teammates Eli Harold andEric Reid.
Afterward, Kaepernick said his protest “has definitely sparked a discussion, but that’s not what the goal is. The goal is to create change. The goal is to create equality and have justice for all, and we have a long ways to go to get to that point.”
For the third straight game, Seattle’s players, coaches and sideline staff locked arms in unity during the anthem.
Hoisting the flag
Seattle native and three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford raised the 12th Man flag before the game.