The Seattle Seahawks cruised to a fairly easy victory over the San Francisco 49ers by a final of 29 - 13. Seattle jumped out to a quick 13-point lead with a dominant first quarter, and never looked back from there.
The story of the day was undoubtedly the play of un-drafted rookie running back, Thomas Rawls. Marshawn Lynch was declared inactive for the Seahawks earlier in the day on Sunday, but the running game didn't skip a beat. We'll talk more about Rawls and his numbers later on, but he was fantastic on Sunday.
Russell Wilson also had a huge day, failing to complete just 5 of his 29 pass attempts. Led by Wilson and Rawls, the offense looked the best its looked in weeks. Sure, the opponent was subpar, but it was still incredibly encouraging to see the Seattle offense look the way it's designed to look.
If you base your analysis off of Twitter, you'd think the Seattle defense surrendered 45 points. They certainly conceded some yards to Blaine Gabbert and the San Francisco offense, but still held them to just 13 points and pinch more than 300 yards of total offense. Not quite the crush-your-soul day we've come to expect from this defense when these two teams get together, but the results on the scoreboard speak for themselves, and a win is a win.
All in all, it was a solid win that will surely give the Seahawks a confidence boost, as they fight to keep their playoff hopes alive and well.
1. Tyler Lockett fights his way into the end zone.
If we're being honest, the game was already over before this touchdown. But it was great to see Wilson hook up with his rookie receiver for a pair of scores on Sunday, with this obviously being the most impressive of the two. Lockett has gradually been integrated more and more into the offensive game plan, and we got to see him play a big role on Sunday.
2. Thomas Rawls shows off his power.
We were reminded on Twitter on Sunday (I forget who said it, so apologies) that Rawls' nickname in college was "Baby Beast Mode". True to his nickname, he busted out this beauty of a run that the untrained eye would probably assume was carried out by Marshawn Lynch, himself.
3. It's Thomas Rawls' world, we're just all living in it.
It wouldn't be fair to only include one Thomas Rawls highlight in Sunday's key plays. Rawls has shown early on in his NFL career that he can be a weapon in the passing game. San Francisco found this out the hard way, when they elected to not cover him. Rawls did the rest with a nifty change of direction, a simple stiff arm and pure speed. Take a bow, Thomas.
Thomas Rawls- 30 carries for 209 rushing yards, 3 catches for 46 receiving yards, 2 total touchdowns
Rawls was responsible for the first 200 yard rushing game for a Seattle back and the second-highest single game rushing total since Shaun Alexander's 266 yard game in 2001. Just an outstanding performance, and one that could prompt Pete Carroll and company to give Rawls more carries, regardless of Marshawn's injury status.
Blaine Gabbert- 22/34, 264 passing yards, 1 touchdown
Credit where credit is due. Blaine Gabbert has been a laughing stock of the NFL from pretty much the day he was drafted, and a lot of that was warranted based on his on-field play. But give the man some credit, because he was solid against a good Seahawks defense. With a bad offensive line, thin receiving corps and invisible rushing attack, Gabbert was still able to give the 49ers a chance.
Total Seattle rushing yards- 255
This is what the Seattle offense is supposed to be. A dominant rushing attack that sets up big plays via play action. Not only did the threat of Rawls busting a big run on every play finally give Russell Wilson time to throw, but it allowed the offense to function the way it is designed to. Credit Darrell Bevell for calling just the right number of pass plays to compliment the ferocious ground game.
--Before we go any further, I think it's important to put Rawls' game into perspective, because I noticed a lot of people on twitter dot com calling for him to supplant Lynch as the starter. Rawls seems to be a very good player, but Sunday's performance did come against the dreadful 49ers. More of a timeshare, "ride the hot hand" kind of deal going forward would make sense, but to say that Marshawn should be relegated to backup duty at this point is a little premature (if he can return to full health, that is).
--Russell Wilson's first touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett was a beautifully placed ball. Lockett did a great job getting behind the secondary, and Wilson floated a perfect pass over the top to bust things open early for the Seahawks.
--The 49ers gave up more rushing yards in the first half on Sunday than they had in any first half since 1991. Must be a fun season to be a Niner fan, huh?
--Talking about the 49ers' collapse at this point is beating a dead horse, but man. I swear I didn't recognize 1/4 of the names on their jerseys on Sunday. It'll be very interesting to see how long it takes them to rebuild.
--Have we talked enough about how Cliff Avril needs an extension? He is an absolute animal off the edge.
--In the pseudo-trade between the Eagles and Seahawks for their cornerbacks, it would appear that there is no winner.
Carroll, in the most diplomatic terms possible, said Cary Williams was benched for multiple mistakes over several weeks— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) November 23, 2015
--The Seahawks and 49ers always beat each other up, and Seattle almost walked out of that game down three starting linemen as a result. Thankfully, it sounds as if Justin Britt and JR Sweezy just had stingers. However, the status of Patrick Lewis is still unknown. Doug Baldwin also left this one due to injury, and while he says he's okay, an ankle injury for someone who relies on being shifty and quick as he does, is never a good thing.
--Marshawn was pleased with his young apprentice's performance on Sunday.
"Hey Marshawn, what do you think of Thomas Rawls' performance today?" Marshawn: pic.twitter.com/Km0YnNvSUr— Jose Rivera (@whoisjoserivera) November 22, 2015
I said on Twitter towards the end of the game, that Marshawn truly looks like a wise, old mentor who stuck around in his profession one year longer than he wanted to, in order to see that his position would be in good hands.
What it Means
With the win, the Seahawks move back to .500, at 5 - 5. They currently trail the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons in the race for the wild card, and have plenty of other teams hovering around at 5 - 5, 6 - 4 and 4 - 6 to deal with, as well. However, if this team can play the way they did on Sunday for the rest of the season, they will officially be the team that other playoff teams are praying is kept out of postseason festivities.
Looking ahead, the Seahawks will stay home for another week, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and their high-flying passing attack come to town. Ben Roethlisberger will presumably be healthier than he's been since the season opener, after having a bye this past weekend to rest up. Antonio Brown has been torching secondaries all season long, so it will be interesting to see if Kris Richard elects to have Sherman act as his shadow, considering Cary Williams' struggles in 2015.
Most importantly, however, the team and its fans now get to revel in a win for a week, instead of lamenting missed opportunities in a loss. Which is always a good thing.