Micah Rice: Seahawks’ game can weather storm

Commentary: Micah Rice

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor



SEATTLE — The Northwest Vortex swallowed up the gentle Brees.

The wind swirled and the Seattle Seahawks defense swarmed.

And when the hot-dog wrappers settled, the Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints on Saturday with a system that has whipped up playoff success over the years — stifling defense and power running.

Even in an NFL where passing records have fallen like raindrops, some things never go out of style.

Pass-happy offenses can be as fickle as the weather, especially in January. That’s why Marshawn Lynch’s 140-yard, two-touchdown game was so welcome for the Seahawks in their 23-15 NFC Divisional Playoff win Saturday.

There wasn’t a repeat of his “Beast Quake,” like the last time New Orleans and Seattle clashed in the playoffs. But several Beast Tremors wore down the Saints’ defense, and the game clock when Seattle had to march into the wind.

Finally, the Saints’ defensive foundation crumbled on Lynch’s 31-yard touchdown run in the waning minutes of the game.

“His running epitomizes what we are,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “Toughness, strength, grit, he embodies the Seattle philosophy.”

Lynch is a man of few words.

The recipient of NFL discipline for not talking to the media kept his post-game comments brief.

“It felt good,” “Just run harder,” “It’s cool,” were about all the dozen reporters around his locker got for answers Saturday.

That doesn’t mean he can’t fire up his teammates.

Lynch is a quintessential man of action in the show-don’t-tell world of the playoffs.

“Marshawn is a guy you want to play harder for,” center Max Unger said. “Like most NFL players, he is pretty quirky. We all have our issues. But it’s just about getting 53 dudes in the same room and winning games.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman is someone who shows and tells.

After helping stifle a future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees for three quarters, including a career-low 34 passing yards in the first half, Sherman wasn’t shy about the aspirations this Seahawks defense has.

“The postseason is where you solidify your legacy,” Sherman said. “Like the Pittsburgh Steelers or the ’85 Chicago Bears or the Buccaneers that year they won.”

If the Seahawks needed any extra spark, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham provided it during a couple of pregame verbal scrums. He got in linebacker Bruce Irvin’s face two hours before the game. About an hour later, he and Sherman started jawing.

Graham backed up his words with one catch for eight yards.

“It’s hard coming in here talking a big game,” Sherman said. “You’re coming into the wolf’s den, throwing meat at them and slapping them in the face. He got us riled up. He woke up the DB group, and that’s the last group you want to wake up.”

A rematch now awaits, either against Week 1 opponent Carolina or NFC West rival San Francisco. Most Seahawks players expressed no preference, but receiver Golden Tate is rooting for Carolina.

“Statistically, you don’t want to play a team three times,” he said. “Especially a division opponent because they know what it’s like to be here. Carolina, they don’t know what it’s like to be here in CenturyLink. That’s a whole other game plan.”

Whoever comes to Seattle next week, the Seahawks will have a game plan as dependable as winter rain in the Northwest.

And if the defense and power running game don’t dry up next Sunday, the Seahawks have a good shot at punching their ticket to the Super Bowl.

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