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Seahawks facing desperation at RB heading into Week 17

Just one healthy rusher remains on Seattle’s roster

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Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll throws a challenge flag near the end of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Seattle.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll throws a challenge flag near the end of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) Photo Gallery

RENTON — For a team headed to the playoffs already with 11 victories and still with a shot at the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks are in unexpected desperation mode.

In the past 15 days, the Seahawks lost their top three running backs and their best offensive lineman to injuries. The foundation of what Seattle wants to be on offense — predicated by a successful run game — has been decimated. Running backs Chris Carson (hip), Rashaad Penny (knee) and C.J. Prosise (arm) are all done for the year. Carson and Prosise were injured in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to Arizona. Penny suffered a torn ACL on his only play of the Week 14 loss to the Rams.

So yes, this is a bit of a crisis for the playoff-bound Seahawks.

Their need is such that Seattle brought back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to play this week in the NFC West championship matchup with San Francisco. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday morning that a reunion with Lynch was possible, and the deal was finalized Monday night, Lynch agent confirmed on Twitter.

“I’m hoping for him. He will have a blast playing with this team. He loves this city and he loves playing here and would love to contribute in a way. He may have a chance here,” Carroll said Monday.

Seattle has just one healthy running back on its roster who has been with the team all season in rookie sixth-rounder Travis Homer. And in another blow, left tackle Duane Brown underwent minor knee surgery on Monday and won’t be back for a few weeks.

While adding Lynch grabs headlines and should provide a jolt to a reeling locker room, the reality is it might not matter who runs the ball for Seattle if there isn’t blocking up front.

The loss of Brown is a major blow. It was highlighted when Chandler Jones overwhelmed Jamarco Jones, Brown’s replacement, on his way to four sacks on Sunday. At one point in Sunday’s loss, the Seahawks were without three of their starting linemen from the beginning of the season — center Justin Britt, left guard Mike Iupati and Brown — not to mention starting tight end Will Dissly.

Iupati may be in question for the San Francisco game because of a stinger.

“It’s a tough sport we play. Guys go down. You just want to keep it moving sometimes when the guys come in or not. You got to be able to change it up,” Jones said. “Like I said, everybody just has to get back to the basics. We have a big game this upcoming weekend. We’ll be fine.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Carroll’s overwhelming optimism was evident in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s loss. Carroll’s belief is that Seattle will be able to flush the loss to the Cardinals and consider that performance an outlier. History helps back up his belief. Since Russell Wilson took over as quarterback in 2012, Seattle is 31-7 in the game following a regular-season loss.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Seattle’s run defense has been excellent shutting down some very good running attacks this season. It was not able to keep Arizona’s Kenyan Drake under control. Drake rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns. While 80 of those yards came on one run, it was the other 86 yards — many coming in key situations — that were more troubling for Seattle. The 166 yards rushing were the most allowed to one player this season by Seattle and the 253 total yards rushing allowed were a season high.

STOCK UP

There weren’t may performances worthy of note, but defensive end Rasheem Green continues to show promise. Green had six tackles, a pass defensed and blocked a field goal attempt. The second-year defensive lineman has two sacks, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks in the past five games.

STOCK DOWN

Seattle WRs Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf were invisible against Arizona. Lockett had one catch on eight targets for 12 yards. Metcalf dropped his only target of the game. Lockett had eight catches for 120 yards in Week 15 against Carolina, but was taken out of the game plan by Arizona. Metcalf was shadowed by Patrick Peterson most of the game and the rookie disappeared.

INJURIES

While Carson and Prosise are done for the year, Carroll sounded optimistic on his radio show Monday about the status of DE Jadeveon Clowney (core) and CB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring), saying both have a chance to play against San Francisco. Carroll had more certainty about Clowney than Griffin, but lumped both in the same category. He was less optimistic about safety Quandre Diggs returning due to a high-ankle sprain.

KEY NUMBER: 8

Seattle has won eight straight home games against San Francisco, including the NFC championship game victory in January 2014.

WHAT’S NEXT

Seattle will host the NFC West title game in Week 17 for the second time in Carroll’s tenure. The last came in his first season, 2010, when the 6-9 Seahawks beat the 7-8 Rams to win the division with a losing record.

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