Hawks go Old School on Ravens
These guys spend all week devising strategies and scenarios, fine-tuning techniques and plotting advantageous matchups.
But sometimes winning a game in the National Football League is no more sophisticated than a couple guys settling their differences on the junior-high school yard.
“You gotta hit a bully in the mouth, that’s the only way you’re going to get ’em up offa ya,” Seahawks fullback Mike Robinson said Sunday afternoon after Seattle upset Baltimore, 22-17, at CenturyLink Field.
For years, the Ravens have made their living by being football bullies, roughing up opposing offenses, issuing pain and intimidation.
Sunday, though, the Seahawks stood toe-to-toe, hit-for-hit, and came away with a win that might change the way this team is perceived.
They’re still a long way down in their division, at 3-6, but they’ve rushed the ball convincingly against two of the top four run defenses in the NFL the past two weeks. And if you can run the ball, you can win games.
Baltimore was coming in off an emotional win over rival Pittsburgh and sat atop the AFC East with a 6-2 record. They had the second-ranked defense in the NFL powered by the likes of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed.
But from the start, the Seahawks’ offense, 29th in the league, was not about to be intimidated. They played sloppy, with an inexcusable 13 penalties, but they certainly played aggressively.
The most revealing possession was the last, when the Seahawks took two penalties before deciding to move in the right direction.
Almost six minutes remained, and Baltimore had just closed the Seattle lead to five points. We might have expected a dramatic play by the Ravens’ defense to turn the game around. Instead, the Seahawks responded with the kind of offense coach Pete Carroll has been talking about since he got here 25 games ago.
After a couple Tarvaris Jackson pass completions bought some space, the Seahawks handed the ball to workhorse back Marshawn Lynch six of the next seven plays – and passed it to him on the other one.
And the young offensive line that has been scoffed at much of the season suddenly looked all grown up.
On a second-and-8 just before the two-minute warning, Lynch appeared bottled up in the middle of the line after a short gain. But Lynch kept driving his feet, and the line seemed to coalesce into a rugby scrum and kept pushing the Ravens back until the first-down distance was reached.
It was classic power football against a great defensive front. This was man-on-man, facemask-against-facemask, and the Seahawks rooted them out of there. One more first down after that, and the Hawks had killed the final six minutes to preserve the game.
After his 135 rushing yards against Dallas last week, Lynch jackhammered his way to another 109 against Baltimore.
“That last drive was pretty much the whole game,” center Max Unger said. “Their defense is obviously one of the best in the league, and you’ve really got to bring it. That’s where we’ve wanted to be … being able to run the ball to win the game.”
Guard Robert Gallery, the only real veteran on the young offensive front, conceded that the line had been up and down all season, but to control the ball on the final drive was a step toward becoming “the team we can be.”
“They’ve been a good defense for a while,” Gallery said of the Ravens. “We knew that, we’re not afraid of that. Obviously, we’ve got to be smarter, and get rid of the penalties, but the (young linemen) are learning by fire and coming together.”
Robinson was cautious to point out that “this wasn’t the Super Bowl … but it definitely was a confidence builder, especially for the offense.”
The Ravens, he said, brought their usual amount of mystique, attitude and swagger. “but we felt that on kickoffs, returns, punts … if we can hit them in the mouth we could set a tone, and we did.”
It was just one game, but the win came against one league’s finest teams. The Seahawks nearly threw it away with penalties, but in the end they won it with an unexpected physical dominance that bodes well for the second half of the season.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com