Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks seek Kam-less identity in Green Bay

Rams tight end Lance Kendricks, left, catches a 37-yard pass for a touchdown as Seahawks safety Dion Bailey, right, watches during the fourth quarter of Seattle’s 34-31 overtime loss in St. Louis last week.
Rams tight end Lance Kendricks, left, catches a 37-yard pass for a touchdown as Seahawks safety Dion Bailey, right, watches during the fourth quarter of Seattle’s 34-31 overtime loss in St. Louis last week. The Associated Press

One Marshawn Lynch run last week against the Rams should remind the Seahawks who they are.

Or, at least, who they used to be and need to become again.

At their own 31 on the first possession of the game, the Seahawks faced a third-and-1 situation. It’s the time when the linemen get red-faced from hyperventilating over the primitive sumo-like collisions about to take place.

But the Rams repelled the Seahawks line, and Lynch was hit two yards deep in the backfield. Still, he spun out of a tackle and fought back to the line of scrimmage, when Rams Chris Long and Janoris Jenkins both nailed him.

It wasn’t enough, as Lynch was still pushing at the 33 when Trumaine Johnson joined in. At the 34, five Rams encircled Lynch. At the 37, a total of seven Rams tore into him like one of those savage scenes from a wildlife show when jackals swarm a wildebeest on the African veld.

Lynch finally succumbed at the 39.

The Rams’ secondary guys were in there mostly for the show of it, but really were staying out of the way of the driving pistons that are Lynch’s legs.

Long was in this for real, though. He’s 270 pounds, a second-overall draft pick, and is paid to stonewall running backs. He spent several yards trying to bend Lynch over backwards like a rodeo steer wrestler. Couldn’t do it.

By the end of the play, Lynch was invisible at the epicenter of roiling Rams. Other NFL backs have the strength for such things, but the will? Once that third defender gets in there, it’s generally time to go down, conserve strength and head back to the huddle.

Something makes Lynch different, though, a competitive stubbornness perhaps, or something burning deeper, some kind of inextinguishable fuel mixture — maybe passion and anger, suspicion and Skittles.

It is in that last yard of dragging seven defenders, in that hardheaded battle against futility, that Lynch is different, and when he provides the Seahawks their greatest inspiration.

He could have a huge game Sunday night at Green Bay. But will that be enough? What of the Seahawks defense, the one that couldn’t make the key stops late in the overtime loss to the Rams?

Most would say the Rams played tougher than Seattle in that one.

Truth is, though, football games are often won by the mundane things: Guys blocking the right man, defenders filling the designated gaps and dropping into the proper zones. Mechanics and technique.

But as Seahawks cornerback/philosopher Richard Sherman once pointed out, football is a game of adrenaline and testosterone.

And nothing stimulates both like the run that Lynch made against the Rams, unless it is the kind of huge hits that Kam Chancellor used to make before he withdrew himself from the Seahawks in a contract dispute.

Chancellor was replaced at strong safety by earnest but inexperienced Dion Bailey, whose stumble on a late St. Louis touchdown was considered by many as the tipping point in the loss.

Less conspicuous but critical, I think, were the few times when Bailey was brought to the line of scrimmage to help stop the rush. One time, when he was free on the backside to pursue the ballcarrier, he didn’t quite get there.

So many times in the past Chancellor would be there and detonate on the ballcarrier with the kind of ordnance that would cause every Seahawk on the field and sidelines to pop-corn with excitement.

The adrenaline surge would last a few series, at least, and in their minds, a thought would lift them: We can’t lose when that guy is on our team.

They didn’t have that in St. Louis. They lost the game for a number of reasons. But that was one of them.

And they have to realize they have to win differently.

They’ve had previous moments of critical self-evaluation. They struggled when they thought they were about Percy Harvin, for instance. When they ditched him, they became themselves again. Or some newer version of themselves.

The Seahawks defense has so much talent it can be elite by just doing the right things, holding the edge, scraping hard to the right gaps, knowing the zone depths, and wrapping up the man with the ball.

That’s enough. But that’s not quite the identity the Seattle defenders have had the past three years.

And until they get Chancellor back, or find another big-bopping, bell-ringing bringer-of-pain, they have to realize that the small things, the details, the defensive exactitude needs to be their identity.

They still can be great. They still can pull an upset over the Packers in Green Bay.

But they have to realize who they really are right now.

dave.boling@thenewstribune.com

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