NEW ORLEANS - Marshawn Lynch has shown glimpses of promise since the Seahawks traded for him just over a month ago. But on Sunday, Seattle's new running back coughed up fumbles that brought two promising drives to a grinding halt.
Lynch’s first fumble happened on Seattle’s opening drive of the second half, with his team down 34-16. Lynch broke free for a 17-yard gain, but while churning his legs for extra yardage, New Orleans safety Roman Harper stripped and recovered the ball.
Seattle’s defense managed to get the ball back when linebacker David Hawthorne intercepted a Drew Brees offering near the Seahawks’ goal line. Seattle marched down the field again, but stalled when Lynch fumbled after catching a short pass from Matt Hasselbeck, with New Orleans linebacker Scott Shanle forcing the ball loose and recovering it.
On Seattle’s next possession, coach Pete Carroll replaced Lynch with Leon Washington for the rest of the game.
Along with the fumbles, Lynch also dropped two passes and finished with just 36 yards on seven carries. Lynch was not in the locker room when reporters were allowed in after the game.
“I’ve already talked to him, and he just feels horrible about it,” Carroll said. “Both of them were kind of in transition situations where he got vulnerable. Unfortunately those are crushers, they’re crushing plays when you give the football up. And he knows that. And we have to do a better job of emphasizing – in those kind of situations in particular – when you’re spinning around and guys are coming from all angles, stuff can happen and you’ve got to finish the play.”
Lynch has struggled to find running room with all of the changes in Seattle’s offensive line over the past, half-dozen games. Fellow running back Justin Forsett said he talked with Lynch after the game, telling him to keep his head up and be patient.
“That’s my brother,” Forsett said. “Every running back has days like that. I had one last year, and he had one today. You’ve got to have thick skin. You’ve got to be able to respond because we need him.
“We need him to be our guy back there, and as a running back we hold each other up. So when one of us is having a bad day, we’ve got to be able to keep them up and keep them positive because you can easily go down the tank. He responded well. Every time he goes down there, he’s fighting for extra yards.
“He’s just trying to do the best he can, and a flick of the ball and it’s a fumble. But we know he’s out there fighting, and things happen.”
Carroll said that replacing Lynch with Washington had more to do with wanting to get the Florida State product on the field offensively, and that it’s not an indication of a change in the team’s running back rotation moving forward.
“I wanted to get him in there to get him some plays, and he deserves to play some,” Carroll said about Washington. “It was just fitting I think at that time. I didn’t want Marshawn to go back out there in a game where I didn’t think he could be a factor.
“I didn’t want to put him in a situation where the ball might get out again – I didn’t want to do that to him. I love him, and he’s a great football player for us. And those are mistakes that happen sometimes, and he’s got to find a way to not let that happen.”