ATLANTA — With all of the attention focused on Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, Atlanta’s running back duo of Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers had something to prove.
And facing a Seattle defense that, heading into the contest, was yielding just 103.1 yards a contest, the Falcons showed they can still pound the rock.
Turner rumbled for 98 yards on 14 carries, and the cat-quick Rodgers added another 64 yards on 10 carries.
The Falcons finished with 167 rushing yards, the most Seattle’s defense had given up since a Nov. 25 ame in Miami during the regular season.
Atlanta came into the game averaging just 87 yards rushing per contest during the regular season, 29th in the league. The Falcons finished with four runs of 15 yards or more.
“They are a tough and physical unit for sure,” Rodgers said. “However, we wanted to use their aggressive style of defense against them. Because they play eight men in the box, we thought we could gash them for big plays.”
The Seahawks did a much better job against the run in the second half, giving up just 34 yards.
“We just started doing what we do,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We made plays in the backfield, picks — all that stuff. We should have done that sooner. Then we wouldn’t have been in that predicament.”
While Atlanta’s running game thrived, Lynch and Seattle’s running game struggled.
Lynch finished with 46 yards on 16 carries for a pedestrian 2.9-yards per carry average. The Cal product had been nursing a foot injury all week, and did not appear to be 100 percent healthy.
Lynch also lost a fumble for the second consecutive week. He was stripped of the ball by Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux recovered.
The turnover led to a drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown catch by Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Lynch was held to his lowest output since the Miami game (also 46 rushing yards).
The Seahawks finished with 123 rushing yards as a team, and quarterback Russell Wilson led Seattle in rushing with 60 yards on seven carries.
“The number one must going into the week was to stop Marshawn Lynch,” Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. “The guys up front won the line of scrimmage in the run game.”
History of gashing defeats
Atlanta’s Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers weren’t the first to run wild against Seattle in the postseason. The Seahawks are 0-7 all-time when giving up more than 150 yards rushing in a playoff:
12-31-1988at Bengals254Loss, 21-13
1-12-2008at Packers235Loss, 42-20
1-8-1984at Raiders205Loss, 30-14
2-5-2006vs. Steelers181Loss, 21-10
1-3-1988at Oilers178Loss, 23-20 (OT)
1-16-2011at Bears176Loss, 42-20
Sundayat Falcons167Loss, 30-28Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahwks @eric_d_williams