Almost no interview in the Seahawks locker room after the 35-6 win over Baltimore finished without a few verbal bouquets being tossed in the direction of the offensive line.
That’s not bad for a unit that had been figuratively chased around Seattle by critics with pitchforks and torches in the first half of the season.
Their improving play coincides with the streak of Seahawks’ success.
In the last six games, five of them wins, Seattle quarterbacks have been sacked eight times — after being clobbered 31 times in the first seven.
The Hawks also topped 400 yards in total offense four times in those six games.
“I can’t start it without talking about the offensive line,” coach Pete Carroll said. “These guys protected all day long. Russell (Wilson) had a great opportunity to sit back there and do his stuff.”
Wilson was untouched in 32 pass attempts versus Baltimore, and he responded by staying in a clean pocket and passing for five more touchdowns.
“The offensive line was unbelievable,” Wilson said. “They opened holes and protected me well. That’s as good as it gets.”
Carroll said it’s been a matter of the line maturing together, but many credit the change to the insertion of Patrick Lewis into the role of starting center six games ago.
“They give me too much credit,” Lewis said. “As a group, we watch a lot of film together. Russell (Wilson) is on it and he’s making the right checks and getting everybody in the right spot. Overall, it’s just a lot of communication. That’s been the main thing lately.”
Given how well he had played in a stretch late last season, Lewis was considered a front-runner for the starting job in training camp. But unproven Drew Nowak was given the job even though he was more of an unfinished prospect.
“That happens,” Lewis said when asked how he reacted to being on the bench. “It motivated me to keep working on the things I needed to. I just waited my turn and when I got it I tried to do my best. I love this game and I try to put my all into every play whether I’m on the bench or on the field.”
Right guard J.R. Sweezy said Lewis’ play has “been big; he has a lot of experience and has been able to step in there and run the show.”
Lewis offered an interesting insight into the unity of the offensive line, deflecting credit to backup center/guard Lemuel Jeanpierre.
Although Jeanpierre is another who contended for playing time at center, he’s been a mentor to Lewis.
“He’s always in my ear, keeping me at the top of my game,” Lewis said. “We watch a lot of film together and he helps me out. He’s been that way since I got here. He’s a great leader on this team and I look up to him.”
Jeanpierre laughed when he heard Lewis. “You do whatever you can, even if I’m not playing I can be an asset. Pat’s doing really well, doing a great job, and he’s going to keep doing it.”
Tackle Russell Okung cited the quick release of Wilson’s passes as helping their protection. But he also touted Wilson’s level-headed support of the linemen.
“He’s always been consistent since Week 1 in his language, how he talks and how he believes in us,” Okung said of Wilson. “He never changes; he’s true to who he is. He’s never hard on us always believes in what we can do.”
And, in the last six games, he has reason to believe in them.