It’s becoming harder and harder for the Seahawks to remain a running team.
With Thomas Rawls suffering a season-ending broken ankle in Baltimore and Marshawn Lynch unlikely to return until the playoffs — if then — this offense is all Russell Wilson’s now. But the Seahawks, who came into the game as the NFL’s leading rushing team, clearly are determined to keep running it.
Wilson continued to chew up depleted NFL defenses, throwing five more touchdown passes in a 35-6 win in Baltimore, giving him 16 TD passes and no interceptions in the last four games against San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Baltimore. He is the third player to do that in a season, joining Tom Brady (2007) and Peyton Manning (2013).
Wilson also has the 28th four-game streak with three TD passes since 1960; there have been seven streaks of at least five games with three TDs (per Pro Football Reference).
On top of that, Wilson is the first player to have at least three passing TDs and no interceptions while completing 70 percent in four straight games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Seahawks might seem to have a bit of an identity crisis, but don’t be fooled by Wilson’s gaudy numbers: This is still a running team, and they will have to figure out how to keep it such.
Last week, after Wilson lit it up for a third straight game, Pete Carroll said the Seahawks were still a run-first offense.
“This hasn’t changed at all,” he said. “This is the way we want to play the game. We think it’s the best way to win.”
As if to prove that point, the Seahawks kept pounding the ball vs. Baltimore, running it 36 times while passing 33. The 36 rushes were tied for third most this season. They weren’t nearly as effective as the three other times they ran it that much — they averaged just 3.4 yards per tote Sunday — but they showed they are not going to move off their run-based approach.
Of course, it is easier to keep pounding it when you are ahead by a couple of touchdowns and your quarterback is at the point where he can generally bail you out of most third-down situations.
It remains to be seen whether the Seahawks keep DuJuan Harris, who gained just 42 yards on 18 carries — a horrid 2.3 average — and also lost a fumble inside the Ravens’ 5-yard line, costing Seattle a first-half touchdown.
“I thought he ran hard,” Carroll said. “It was unfortunate he got the ball knocked away from him once. We tried to stay with him — we’re going to need him — so we put him right back in, and he did a fine job of taking care of the football.”
Harris was called up from the practice squad before Week 13, after Seattle put Paul Richardson on IR. Harris basically replaced Bryce Brown, who had two short stints with the team when Rawls and Lynch were both injured. Brown was cut a second time when Jeremy Lane was activated off PUP, but he could return to take Rawls’ roster spot this week.