There’s plenty of pressure on second-year running back Thomas Rawls to fill the void left by Marshawn Lynch – a difficult feat, to say the least. But in Seattle’s 26-6 romp of the Detroit Lions Saturday night, Rawls continued to stamp out his own identity by doing something his predecessor had never done: rush for more than 160 yards in a single playoff game.
“Just over time I just reminisce back when I was younger just watching [Lynch] like, ‘Man hopefully one day’,” Rawls said postgame. “And that day is now. I’m kind of lost for words, man.”
Seattle had its most dominant performance on the ground this year at a time when it mattered most. (“That’s the game we’ve been looking for,” said head coach Pete Carroll.) Rawls finished the night with 27 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown (passing Lynch’s previous single-game rushing yards record of 157).
Rawls averaged 6.0 yards per carry — a feat reminiscent of his rookie debut, when he led the league in yards per attempt (5.65). One of his best runs of the day came in the third quarter: Rawls ran up the middle and bounced outside for a 32-yard sprint down the right sideline. He stutter-stepped to the left to make one Lions defender miss, and delivered a blow to linebacker Tahir Whitehead before going down.
Seattle also had a successful day through the air. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin finished the night with 11 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown; Paul Richardson finished with 48 yards and had a pair of highlight-reel one-handed catches (one for another touchdown).
“When Thomas is [running like that],” said Baldwin, “they can’t help but put another safety in the box and then that gives us one-on-one matchups on the outside.
“We had a lot of opportunities in the passing game because of what Thomas was doing on the ground. I has to give a lot of credit to our offensive line. They were doing a hell of a job tonight. An unbelievable job tonight.”
The Seahawks will take the field again Saturday, playing the second-seed Atlanta Falcons on the road.