RENTON, Wash. — In their first game without Chris Carson, the Seattle Seahawks‘ running game was woefully ineffective.
“It wasn’t effective enough,” head coach Pete Carroll said of the running game. “I wish we would have got ahead a little bit more so we could really pound it a little bit and see if we could make some more yards with it. We kept our attitude about it, we kept trying and working at it.”
Six of Seattle’s 25 carries went for zero or negative yards. The Seahawks did not manage a single “explosive” run in the game, which the Seahawks categorize as any carry of at least 12 yards. In fact, Seattle didn’t have a single carry of at least 10 yards in the game. A 9-yard scramble by Russell Wilson on a third-and-12 was the most effective rush of the game for Seattle and didn’t even gain a first down to keep a possession alive.
“We need to do better,” Carroll said. “I really want to keep pounding away until we get better at it. We’ll make progress there.
“We’re just going to keep working our guys and keep rolling them. They’re both (Lacy and Rawls) really worthy guys and we’ll just pound away and see what happens as the games go.”
Rawls got his most work of the season against the Rams on Sunday, carrying eight times for 20 yards. Rawls has just 24 yards on 13 carries this season. He has missed large chunks of time since late in the 2015 season due to injuries. A broken ankle, hairline fracture of the fibula and high-ankle sprain have all forced Rawls to miss games.
“I thought Thomas did have a better feel as the game went on,” Carroll said. “He just doesn’t have much experience in the last year. We’ll just keep bringing him along and see how he goes.
“He’s working really hard and he’s in good shape and his attitude is great and I don’t think there’s any reason other than just kind of bringing him along. Meanwhile, Eddie is pounding it and we’ll be all right.”
The Seahawks will get C.J. Prosise back from an ankle sprain after their bye week as well. McKissic also factors into the passing game, catching three passes for 36 yards against the Rams.
Nevertheless, running the football is a core element of the way the Seahawks want to play. Carroll frequently references a desire to reach 50 total completions and carries in a game as a benchmark number that generally points toward successful offense. It’s a figure he attributes to former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi.
In all three of Seattle’s victories, that equation has featured at least 25 carries. In their two losses, they managed just 22 carries or less.
For the second time in four seasons against the Rams, Seattle safety Earl Thomas has forced a touchback mere inches from the goal line by dislodging the ball from the grasp of a Rams running back.
On Sunday, it was knocking the ball from the extended right hand of Todd Gurley II. In 2014, it was Benny Cunningham.
Both instances led to the same uncommon ruling. Thomas forces a fumble a few blades of grass away from the Rams scoring a touchdown only to have the ball squirt through the end zone for a touchback. Instead of a Rams score, Thomas put the ball back in the hands of the Seahawks’ offense.
“I’ve never seen that play before Earl did it the first time, and he’s done it twice,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “I’ve never seen anybody else do that and he did it both (times) to the Rams. It’s crazy, but Earl’s a heck of a player and deserves a lot of credit for never giving up and fighting until the last second.”
On Sunday in Los Angeles, Gurley took a pitch 12 yards from Seattle’s goal line and hit a crease at full speed to surge toward the end zone. As Gurley neared the end zone, he extended the ball with his right hand toward the front pylon only to have Thomas swat his arm at the 1-yard line. The ball slipped from Gurley’s grasp just before reaching the pylon and just before Gurley’s foot landed out of bounds. The loose ball then caromed off the pylon to give Seattle a touchback and possession of the ball.
“I saw a chance to strike on the ball,” Thomas said. “I did a great job, watching those Bruce Lee movies and trying to carry it over to the football field.”
In Week 17 of the 2014 season in Seattle, Shaun Hill completed a pass to Cunningham in the left flat only to have an eerily similar play result. Cunningham extended with his right arm, Thomas swatted down on it, the ball came free just shy of the goal line and bounced out of bounds through the end zone to result in a touchback for Seattle.
“It’s just another phenomenal statement about the guy’s will to win,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “His grit, his competitiveness – you know that he just will never let up and he just keeps on battling. That’s who Earl is, and so I love that he has those moments where he’s illustrated — you know, in such unique fashion that he can do those kinds of things. He’s just an extraordinary player.”
Seahawks left guard Luke Joeckel will have arthroscopic knee surgery on Thursday to serve as a clean-up procedure on the ACL injury he sustained last year.
Joeckel was eased into full work in training camp and has played each of the first five games of the season. However, his practice time has been reduced in recent weeks as the knee required further attention.
“It’s just developments that occur going through the process of getting your knee back,” Carroll said. “We brought him back very carefully and there was something that was kind of hanging in there that was irritating him for some time and we tried to wait it out and see what it was and we have waited as long as we can wait and he’s been a stud about it. Now it’s time to get cleaned up and hopefully it will be really smooth for him and the docs will get in there and get him cleaned out and away we go.”
Carroll didn’t have a definitive timeline on the time Joeckel is expected to miss, but said it would be a stretch to think he could play against the New York Giants in two weeks.
In the interim, Seattle’s options at left guard would be Mark Glowinski, Matt Tobin and Ethan Pocic.
Glowinski started 16 games at left guard last year, but was moved to the right side this offseason and lost his starting job to Oday Aboushi in Week 3. Tobin was acquired in a trade in August and has played only as a jumbo tight end so far. Pocic was one of Seattle’s two second-round picks this year. He has mainly played on the right side of the line.
NOTES: DE Michael Bennett briefly left Sunday’s game before halftime with a plantar fascia injury. He missed a few plays at the end of the half before returning and completing the game. Head coach Pete Carroll said Bennett will need the bye week off to help recover from the injury. … DE Cliff Avril has some tests upcoming in the next few weeks to determine if he can return to the team. Avril injured his neck against the Indianapolis Colts last week and head coach Pete Carroll said they will be very careful with the decision-making process regarding Avril’s status. … RB C.J. Prosise is expected to return after the bye week after missing the last two games with an ankle sprain. … LT Rees Odhiambo was “sore” on Monday after playing through Sunday’s game with a bruised sternum sustained last week against the Indianapolis Colts. Head coach Pete Carroll said the break of the bye week will be a big benefit for Odhiambo. … DE Quinton Jefferson broke his hand in a pass-rush drill in practice last week and requires surgery to repair the issue. He is expected to miss four weeks before he could potentially return to the lineup. … T Branden Albert visited the Seahawks on Monday and had a tryout. The free-agent tackle hasn’t found a team since being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in August. He retired and left the team before electing to return. He was then released by the Jaguars.
REPORT CARD VS. RAMS
—PASSING OFFENSE: C — Russell Wilson and wide receiver Tanner McEvoy were each intercepted in the first half. Seattle managed just one play of more than 15 yards all game. Wilson and Jimmy Graham did connect for their first touchdown of the season.
—RUSHING OFFENSE: D — Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and J.D. McKissic combined for just 39 yards on 19 carries as Seattle’s rushing attack was woefully ineffective. Russell Wilson added five rushes for 16 yards and Tyler Lockett had one carry for 7 yards, but the team averaged just 2.5 yards a rush.
—PASS DEFENSE: B — While the Rams could move the ball on Seattle, they couldn’t find the end zone once they got near Seattle’s goal line. Jared Goff was intercepted twice in Seattle territory to help the Seahawks keep the Rams off the board. Goff was also sacked twice despite being dropped just four times through the first four games of the season.
—RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus — The Seahawks held Todd Gurley II to just 43 yards on 14 carries. While Jared Goff had a 22-yard scramble and Tavon Austin scored on a 27-yard run, the defense forced the Rams to be one-dimensional most of the game.
—SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus — Blair Walsh converted all three of his attempted field goals. Jon Ryan pinned two punts inside the Rams’ 10-yard line. The unit also recovered a muffed punt from Tavon Austin for one of Seattle’s five takeaways. The only blemish was a kickoff out of bounds by Walsh.
—COACHING: B-minus — The Seahawks didn’t gain a single first down in the fourth quarter when sustaining at least one drive could have enabled them to put the game away. Slow starts continue to be a trend for Seattle as they did not score until the second quarter. A few personnel and play-call decisions late were curious as well.