Seahawks rush for franchise-record 350 yards against Giants

SEATTLE — You’ll have to forgive the offensive linemen if they woke up today and pinched themselves.

The Seattle Seahawks ran for a franchise-record 350 yards Sunday in a 38-17 victory over the New York Giants, and that’s a number you just don’t see in the NFL.

“That’s an offensive lineman’s dream,” Seattle left tackle Russell Okung said.

The rushing yards were the most by an NFL team since Cleveland ran for 351 yards in 2009, and it was the 23rd best rushing performance in league history.

The Seahawks also had five rushing touchdowns, which tied a club record. It was the first time an NFL team ran for 350 yards and five touchdowns since Buffalo did it in 1978.

“That’s huge,” center Max Unger said. “I don’t know if I have any other franchise records in my time since being here. You know how much we really take pride in running the ball. This is huge for us.”

One of the many amazing things about Sunday’s performance is that even with Okung and Unger back in the lineup after missing time with injuries, the Seattle offensive line is still something of a patchwork affair with little experience.

Alvin Bailey made the second start of his career, and his first at left guard, in place of the injured James Carpenter.

Bailey made one of the biggest plays of the game when he recovered a fumble by quarterback Russell Wilson early in the fourth quarter.

At the time, Seattle’s lead was only 24-17, but three plays after Bailey’s recovery the Seahawks (6-3) scored again to make it 31-17 and all but bury the Giants (3-6).

“We practice that every week,” Bailey said of the play, on which he was hustling downfield to make an extra block and found the ball at his feet after it squirted out from under a pile of players. “That’s just the attitude of the offensive line. We want to finish the play to the whistle.”

Meanwhile, Luke Willson’s ankle injury in the second quarter left 239-pound Cooper Helfet as the only healthy tight end. Rookie tackle Gary Gilliam, a tight end until his senior year at Penn State, filled in nicely as the second tight end.

“That’s huge. If you can do that in the NFL, you’re really playing, imposing your will on people,” Gilliam said of the rushing total. “To keep running the ball and finish the game like that, that definitely sends a message.”

Right guard J.R. Sweezy and rookie right tackle Justin Britt filled out the offensive line that broke the old team record of 320 rushing yards set against Houston in 2005, which was also the only other time the Seahawks had five rushing touchdowns.

“It’s a really good statement for our guys up front. We saw Max come back and Russell come back and we have a huge day running the football,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said.

“They did a great job up front. It was really exciting to see those guys back together and have that much success.

Running back Marshawn Lynch led Seattle’s ground game with 140 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Wilson added 107 yards and a touchdown, and Christine Michael had the best day of his two-year career with 71 yards on just four carries.

Wilson joined Michael Vick as only the second quarterback to have three 100-yard rushing games in a season in the Super Bowl era.

He was one of many Seahawks who pointed to Unger’s return as critical to Sunday’s success.

“To have Max in there, it really solidifies a lot of things,” Wilson said. “Max Unger played a great game tonight.”

Unger, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, missed the last four games because of a foot injury.

“Exhausted,” Unger said when asked how he felt after the game. “I got maybe three days of practice in the last four weeks. It was interesting, to say the least.”

He tried to deflect the praise his teammates tried to heap upon him.

“They’re just being nice,” Unger said. “We’ll go check it out again. It was rough. I’ll get a couple more games under me, and then we’ll see.”

Just the same, it clearly made a difference to have Unger and Okung back.

“They know this system like the back of their hand,” Sweezy said. “When you’ve got guys like that in there, Pro Bowlers, it obviously helps. We were all on the same page today, and it showed.”

Altogether, it was a terrific way to start the second half of the season.

This is the team the Seahawks want to be.

“We have been running the ball alright, but we haven’t been playing at our best,” Bailey said. “We talked this week that we have to get back to our fundamentals and get back to what we do, and it paid off.”

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