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Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Best of times for Seahawks' Lynch

The running back's hard-nosed ball-carrying prowess drives the Seahawks' offense, gives the team its identity.

  • Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) breaks out of the grasp of Arizona Cardinals strong safety Rashad Johnson (49) and takes off on a 33...

    John Froschauer / Associated Press

    Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) breaks out of the grasp of Arizona Cardinals strong safety Rashad Johnson (49) and takes off on a 33-yard touchdown jaunt during the third quarter this past Sunday.

RENTON -- The Seahawks' first goal when they face Buffalo this weekend is to beat the Bills.
If they get that done, however, the Seahawks may also want to find time to offer some heartfelt thanks to the Bills for finally giving into Seattle's persistence two years ago.
You see, had Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll not been so hell bent on acquiring running back Marshawn Lynch in 2010, the Seahawks would not just be a team with a different running back, but rather one with a different identity.
Lynch is more than just Seattle's leading rusher. He is the heart and soul of an offense that's primary goal is to punch an opponent in the mouth, then punch them in the nose (metaphorically speaking, of course) just for good measure. The play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has had a lot to do with Seattle's offensive improvement this season, but above all else, the Seahawks are still a team that runs its offense through Lynch, who heading into a reunion with his former team, is enjoying the best season of his six-year career.
"I don't know if anything is more symbolic than what we've done with Marshawn and him playing the way he's played and him being the guy he is," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I think he really is the key element to putting this thing together from the attitude perspective at least."
If Carroll, who coached against Lynch at the college level, had his way, the Seahawks would have started the 2010 season with Lynch taking handoffs from Matt Hasselbeck, but it took a while to pry him away from the Bills. But finally, after weeks of phone calls, the Seahawks got Lynch a month into the season for what ended up being the bargain price of a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 fifth-rounder.
"We went after him for a long time, and I just kept bugging John and bugging John," Carroll said. "I mean it was eight or nine weeks or something, whenever we got him, we had been on it through the offseason and all of that. John probably called them back 10 times to get this done. ... There were a number of times when John would look at me and say 'Look, I just called them last week,' and I'd say, 'Oh, come on, let's try again. You never know.'
"We were very persistent about it and finally the opportunity arose for us. This is what we had hoped. We had hoped that he would be a big-timer and that we would make him fit in and feel comfortable and like his surroundings, and really contribute in a big way. ...
"He's done everything we could ask of him. He's already off to the most productive season he's had, with games to go. I couldn't have told you how many yards he would've had, but I'm thrilled that he is in the position that he's in, and that he has meant so much to our club."
So what finally led to the Bills agreeing to a trade?
"I think John just wore them out," Carroll joked. "I think that he wore them down after a while."
Lynch, who declined to talk to reporters Wednesday, has been exactly what the Seahawks were hoping for, if not more, since getting a fresh start in Seattle.
He and the rushing game struggled to find consistent success early, but midway through last season, the Seahawks made a deliberate effort to focus on the rushing attack, for better or worse. While that didn't lead to immediate success in the win column, it helped pave the way for the success the offense has had this year.
Dating back to Week 9 of last season, no running back in the NFL has more rushing yards than Lynch's 2,207, and this year his 1,266 yards ranks second in the league to Adrian Peterson. Lynch has been so consistent, so dependable, that it's almost easy to take for granted what he has done this season despite the fact that he is averaging a career-high 4.9 yards per carry.
Lynch's impact is hard to overstate, especially as the Seahawks head to Toronto needing a win over Lynch's former team to keep their playoff push going.
"It just jumps off the tape," fullback Michael Robinson said. "Teams know when they play against us, they have to deal with '24.' That's just the way it's set up. Watching him run, he makes you want to strain, he makes you want to go harder. He's just a great symbol for what this team is trying to stand for."
When Lynch is in a talking mood, he'll always heap praise on Robinson and his offensive line rather than take credit for his accomplishments, but even the guys doing the dirty work have an appreciation for the way Lynch plays.
"He makes us play harder, too, knowing that he's going to break a couple of tackles," center Max Unger said. "And if we can get up there and get some people off him, he'll go for extra yards."
Injury update
Receiver Sidney Rice sat out Wednesday's practice with what Carroll described as a bruised foot, and his status for the weekend is unknown. Carroll said Rice doesn't know how the injury occurred, but that the receiver woke up sore Monday, and that X-Rays and an MRI revealed no damage. Cornerback Walter Thurmond was a new addition to the injury report. He was listed as limited with a hamstring injury.
Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » Seahawks

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