If you thought tailback Thomas Rawls looked spry and powerful two weeks ago in his return to the Seahawks’ lineup — watch the first half from his team’s 40-7 victory over Carolina on “Sunday Night Football” at CenturyLink Field.
The second-year starting running back from Central Michigan rushed for 106 yards on 15 carries, and tallied his first career two-touchdown game.
All but three of those yards came in a dominating first-half effort in which he became the first Seahawks tailback since Marshawn Lynch in 2011 to run for at least 90 yards and two scores before halftime.
“You saw the electricity he has on the field.” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said. “He can do it all. He showed it last year, and he’s showing it now.”
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Indeed, Rawls had even a stronger burst — a different strut — than he did in Seattle’s 26-15 victory over Philadelphia, when he finished with 57 yards on 14 carries in his return from a leg injury that cost him seven games.
His first touchdown against the Panthers was an 8-yard scamper off left tackle, giving the Seahawks a 10-0 lead with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
Rawls had the team’s second drive of the second quarter all to himself.
He ripped off a 12-yard run — then finished it off by squirting up the middle, cutting right and going the distance on a 45-yard touchdown gallop.
“I felt better. Also with certain types of injuries, you just need to trust the process. You may not be able to get it all when you want,” Rawls said. “You have to keep working, keep grinding and get it piece by piece.”
Rawls briefly left the game after he was stuffed hard by Carolina’s Thomas Davis on a 1-yard loss with six minutes remaining in the first half.
In the locker room, Rawls went through concussion protocol but returned to start the second half.
It was Rawls’ fifth career 100-yard rushing game — and the first since going for 101 yards on 19 carries in a 38-7 win over Minnesota last December.
TERRELL TIME — AGAIN
When Earl Thomas went down two weeks ago with a hamstring injury, Steven Terrell came on as the replacement at free safety.
On Sunday, Thomas went down again in the first half with a more serious injury — a broken leg.
“That was tough,” Terrell said. “I didn’t know the severity of it at the time. I thought, ‘It is Earl, every time I see him go down, he will be right back up.’ But it really hit me when he couldn’t walk.”
Terrell said he saw Thomas in the locker room at halftime.
“Classic ‘E’ — he was telling me (pass) reads about the game,” Terrell said. “He wasn’t even worried about himself.”
Terrell likely will take over as the starter moving forward.
A PICK WITH CAM OUT
Linebacker Mike Morgan was one of the last guys on the field for the Seahawks defense when the game started.
And he was one of the first ones to notice Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was missing. Instead, Derek Anderson was under center.
Anderson tried to hit fullback Mike Tolbert in the right flat, but the pass when off his hands — and right to Morgan, who made his first career interception.
It led to Steven Hauschka’s 23-yard field goal 97 seconds into the game.
“I took advantage of the opportunity,” Morgan said. “(The deflection) came down. I saw it. You’ve got to get those.”
OFFENSE GOES OFF
For the third time in four weeks, the Seahawks set a season-high yardage mark for total offense —534 yards.
And for the first time since the team’s 43-8 Super Bowl 48 win over Denver, Seattle scored 40 or more points — against one of the better defenses in the NFL in the Panthers.
“With our offense, when we’re clicking and things are going … you have no doubt we can do things like that,” said Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse, the Lakes High School graduate. “It showed tonight.”
It was a little bit of a different homecoming this time around for Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart, the former Timberline High School and University of Oregon standout.
Stewart rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries Sunday, but lost a fumble early in the second quarter. His longest run was 29 yards in the fourth quarter.
In last season’s 27-23 Panthers’ win at CenturyLink Field, Stewart rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
“Beast Mode” was back in the building Sunday night. Retired Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was on the Seattle sideline — and got hearty applause when he was shown on the Jumbotron at the end of the third quarter. Lynch, clad in a bright-orange parka, was sitting on the defensive bench, socializing with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. …
Speaking of Bennett, the defensive end who returned to the starting lineup after missing five games (arthroscopic knee surgery) was stunned to discover why Newton missed the first play. It was a team dress-code violation for not wearing a tie to the stadium. “What? Are you serious,” Bennett said. “Wow!” Asked if that type of punishment could happen in Seattle, Bennett deadpanned, “(Donald) Trump is President, so I believe anything is possible.” …
Jimmy Graham caught his 58th career touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard pass from Russell Wilson. He trails Jerry Smith (60) by two scores for sixth all-time by tight ends. … Rookie tight end Nick Vannett had his career-long reception — a 21-yarder late in the first half. He finished with two catches. …
The big surprise before the game was Garry Gilliam, the starter at right tackle for the first 11 games of the season, being a healthy scratch. Brad Sowell started at that position. …
Wide receiver Paul Richardson (hamstring), who saw 16 snaps last weekend at Tampa Bay, was inactive Sunday. Richardson ran the wrong route that led to a Russell Wilson interception in the 14-5 loss. …
Also, rookie Alex Collins, who by default was backup to Rawls against the Buccaneers, was inactive as well. … Other Seahawks’ inactives included running back C.J. Prosise (shoulder), linebacker Brock Coyle (foot), tight end Luke Willson (knee) and defensive tackle John Jenkins.
Former Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette (2011, 2013-15), a key special teams member and part of the Super Bowl-winning squad, was selected to raise the 12th Man flag before the game. He let his daughter, Zion, raise the flag. …
A moment of silence was given before the national anthem in honor of Tacoma police officer Jake Gutierrez, who was killed Wednesday.