The Seattle Seahawks will go as far as Marshawn Lynch will carry them. On Monday Night Football, the brazen running back tied a franchise record to lead his Seahawks (6-7) to their fourth win in five games, as Seattle rolled over the plummeting St. Louis Rams, 30-13, at CenturyLink Field. Lynch, who topped 100 yards rushing for the fifth time in the last six games, continues to keep Seattle’s playoff hopes alive. Much of this late-season rally has been on the back of Lynch, who has revved up a lifeless team that started off at 2-6. He escaped the Rams porous defense early and often, as he grinded his way to finish with 115 yards rushing on 23 carriers. He capped the evening with 2:57 left remaining scoring his ninth rushing touchdown of the season, equaling a franchise record with nine consecutive games with a TD. Lynch was showered with his favorite candy after his16-yard score as Seahawk fans threw bags of Skittles into the end zone in celebration of his ninth TD and their 30-13 win. His performance put away Seattle’s 13th win in its last 14 games against St. Louis.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Lynch leads the NFL in yards after contact with 336 and is among the top 10 in yards after contact per rush with 2.2. On Monday, he joined Shaun Alexander as the only Seahawk to score a touchdown in nine consecutive games. Lynch’s 2011 season is the closest thing to the 2005 NFL MVP. He became just the second Seahawk running back to have at least 950 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs over the past 15 seasons through the first 13 games.
The Seahawks likely would need to win out to potentially make the playoffs, but with a crop of young talent who are hungry to taste the postseason for the first time Seattle’s dream may become a reality. Doug Baldwin, an undrafted rookie out of Stanford, used primetime to show the rest of the NFL what they passed up on in last April’s draft. His impact started early in the first quarter, taking a pitch from Leon Washington on a kickoff reverse and returned it beyond the 40-yard line. Seattle was later forced to punt, but it was Baldwin racing from the outside to down the punt at the Rams 6-yard line. Then he made the biggest of his three fine special teams plays. Coming off the line of scrimmage unblocked on the right end, the unheralded rookie blocked a punt off the foot of Rams’ kicker Donnie James, which landed in the arms of his teammate Michael Robinson, who returned the botched kick 17 yards for an early 7-0 Seahawks lead. Baldwin, who is Seattle’s leading receiver and has become the main option for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, finished with seven receptions for 93 yards and his third touchdown catch of the season. His lone score came in the third quarter when he lost Rams’ safety Darian Stewart on a rout to the sideline and snagged a 29-yard TD pass from Jackson to give the Seahawks a 14-point lead, 20-6.
Jackson finished completing 21-of-32 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown and connected with nine receivers. Seahawks’ kicker Steven Hauschka hit field goals of 23, 42 and 48 yards to help secure the win.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford started despite a high ankle sprain that’s troubled him for nearly two months and forced him to miss last week’s game at San Francisco. Bradford was clearly rusty as he finished 12-of-29 for 193 yards, and was intercepted by Seattle’s cornerback Brandon Browner on the first play of the second half and nearly picked off on a handful of other throws. Ram’s running back Steven Jackson scored St. Louis lone TD in the fourth-quarter on a third-and-goal plunge. He finished with 63 yards on 20 carries.
The Rams (2-11) through 13 games have the third fewest points scored in the last 10 seasons. Over the last three seasons the Rams have been outscored 1,018 to 588. Seattle will travel to Chicago on Sunday to face the Bears. With QB Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte sideline for the season it’s up to linebackers Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher to stop Lynch from carrying the Seahawks into the postseason. (Photo)