Good morning, don’t let the Seahawks’ glow-in-the-dark uniform collection fool you. Pete Carroll’s team actually prefers force to flash.
Seattle ran the ball 46 percent of the time this season, more often (484 attempts) than anyone but Baltimore and San Francisco, more successfully (a per-game average of 137.5 yards) than all but three teams.
So even though the Seahawks will be facing the NFL’s third-best rushing defense in the Eagles, and even though their three top backs are sidelined with injuries, and even though their go-to ballcarrier could be a 34-year-old who until last week had been retired for 14 months, expect nothing different in Sunday’s wild-card game at Lincoln Financial Field.
“That’s their identity,” said Eagles safety Rodney McLeod. “They love to run the football. And adding Marshawn [Lynch] only helps them.”
It was, you’ll remember, Rashaad Penny’s 58-yard TD run at the Linc earlier this season that doomed the Eagles to their fifth straight loss against Seattle.
“They’ve always been a good running offense,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. “We’ve just got to make sure we’re up for that.”
Last week, without Penny (knee), Chris Carson (hip) and C.J. Prosise (broken arm), Seattle summoned the veteran Lynch from retirement before a loss to San Francisco.
And rather than have him stand on the sideline and catch up, Carroll pushed his former featured back onto the field immediately. Lynch, whom the football-stats website Pro Football Focus recently rated as the best back of the just-completed decade, carried the ball 12 times for 34 yards and a touchdown in a 26-21 loss to the 49ers.
If they’re not likely to witness a rebirth of Beast Mode on Sunday, the Eagles know from history that Lynch can be a handful. In four appearances against Philadelphia, curiously for three different teams, he has run for more than 100 yards a game — a total of 434 yards.
As a Buffalo rookie in 2007, he picked up 105 yards. With Seattle in 2011, he gashed the Eagles for 148 yards. Lynch collected 86 yards in a 2014 Seahawks victory. And in 2017, with Oakland, he totaled 95 yards.
“He’s such a strong runner,” Schwartz said. “He’s a contact runner. He doesn’t need a hole to be able to gain yards. He’s a hard guy to bring down one-on-one.”
— Frank Fitzpatrick (email@example.com)
During the four-game, season-ending win streak that has carried the Eagles into the postseason, Carson Wentz has seemed to blossom into the big-time quarterback his truncated 2017 season promised.
With most of his receivers, a few all-pro offensive linemen and a running back or two sidelined with injuries, Wentz has carried a heavier load in an offense loaded with inexperience. In doing so, some believe, he has developed into a team leader. After throwing two interceptions in a regular-season loss to Seattle, Wentz had none in the end-of-schedule streak.
But, peering backward between his legs, center Jason Kelce sees the same quarterback he has worked with for several years.
“I think Carson’s been the same guy he’s been since the moment he stepped in here,” Kelce said Thursday. “He’s always been a guy that’s worked hard. He’s competitive. He wants to win. I wouldn’t say that I’ve noticed any change whatsoever in who he is. ... Obviously more’s been out on his plate with injuries and guys getting hurt. But I haven’t noticed anything different. That guy’s been a rock-solid leader for us."
Will we see a changed Seahawks team from their regular-season win in Philadelphia? The Eagles look considerably different since then. — Ron Cocco, West Chester, via email