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Thomas Rawls has become the key to the Seahawks’ postseason success
- Updated: January 8, 2017
The Seattle Seahawks’ running game looked incredible in Saturday night’s Wild Card game, with Thomas Rawls leading the charge and his team to a 26-6 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Rawls stepped up as his team’s main offensive force, finishing with a playoff franchise-record of 161 rushing yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. His play would lead the Seahawks’ offence to their 5th straight postseason win at home, and a well-earned divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday. It was a performance that the Seahawks truly needed to be able to boost the confidence of their running game, something they’ll desperately need if they want to continue chasing glory this postseason.
The Seahawks’ running game has meant a lot to them in the past, with Marshawn Lynch leading their offence to success and a Super Bowl victory almost 3 years ago. In the 2016 campaign, the Seahawks’ running game looked lost – with the team finishing 25th in total rushing during the regular season. It’s easy to understand why, with Lynch retiring during the summer, while Rawls broke his leg in Week 2 – forcing Seattle to use multiple inexperienced ball carriers in their lineup. It was a disappointing turn of the events, especially since Rawls had guided them to the 3rd best rushing attack throughout his rookie season in 2015, while Lynch was battling injuries.
Their most successful running back during Rawls’ absence in 2016 was Christine Michael, who finished with 469 rushing yards in 9 games, leading to his release as soon as Rawls was cleared to return in Week 11. Heading into the playoffs, the Seahawks look ready to put all their trust in Rawls, hoping to cure their inconsistent ground-and-pound attack. After his performance against the Lions, he’s proven that he has what it takes to be able to lead the Seahawks back towards their full potential.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, Thomas Rawls had 72 yards after contact. Last player with more in a playoff game: Marshawn Lynch in 2010 vs. Saints.
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 8, 2017
From start to finish, Rawls constantly hit multiple holes against a stingy Lions defensive unit. He ran all over the Lions on Saturday night, utilizing his incredible acceleration and explosive rushing ability to avoid defenders, while also using his solid strength to finish every run with a blow of power.
In a game that started off slow for both teams, it would be Rawls who would set the tone in the 1st half – using his vision to find and attack holes to help the Seahawks continue moving the chains. His best run of the 1st half would come in the 2nd quarter, with his team up 7-0 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the half. The 23-year-old ball carrier would explode for a 26-yard run, after shaking off Rafael Bush – which would eventually lead to a 43-yard field goal to give Seattle a 10-0 lead with 2 minutes left in the frame.
The Lions would score a field goal to trim the lead to 7 at the end of the quarter, but by then it was safe to say that Rawls’ impact was felt – with him finishing with 107 rushing yards in the 1st half, which already helped him surpass his largest total in any game during the regular season.
Rawls’ night would only go from good to great in the 2nd half, with the RB continuing his path of destruction in front of an electric CenturyLink Field. After dealing with a slow start in the 3rd quarter, Rawls would finish with his best run to end the frame – bursting out of a packed set of players for a 32-yard run.
The Seahawks would get held to a field goal on the drive, but on their next offensive possession – Rawls would make sure that the Lions wouldn’t have a chance to creep back into this game – capping off an 8-play, 82-yard drive with a 4-yard rushing TD to give the Seahawks a 19-6 lead with 8:49 remaining in the 4th quarter. With Seattle’s “12th man” going ballistic, the Lions would fail to score on the ensuing drive – allowing Russell Wilson to seal the game with a TD pass and give the Seahawks a 26-6 lead in the dying minutes of the game.
The Seahawks’ dominant defence can always be relied upon to do its part, but in order for this squad to make its 3rd Super Bowl appearance in 4 seasons – their ground game will have to continue to be a force against opposing defences. Rawls’ showing against the Lions, proved that he can be the elite runner the Seahawks desperately need. Next week, against the Falcons’ 17th ranked rushing defence, Rawls will have a good shot of continuing his success on the ground.
Their rushing was their key factor on the offensive side of the ball during their latest postseason runs with Lynch, with the rushing attack ranking 4th and 3rd respectively during their latest pair of Super Bowl appearances. With a healthy Rawls leading the way, their current rushing attack looks like it’s ready to chase that same level of success. Rawls has all of the necessary tools to get the job done at the position, and with a sneaky dual-threat QB in Wilson right beside him – this running game has the potential to once again propel the Seahawks through the NFC.
All stats for this article are from NFL.com
You can follow Peter Ash on Twitter @peterash_