ATLANTA — Measured in their assessment, Seattle Seahawks players chose to smile and give kudos to Marshawn Lynch for his throwback pass Saturday.
Lynch had just picked up 37 rushing yards the previous play during his day-long bashing of the Atlanta defense.
Starting from the Atlanta 43 in the second quarter, quarterback Russell Wilson pitched the ball to him the next play. He pivoted and threw a soft, somewhat wobbly pass back to Wilson.
Wilson set then launched the ball toward Jermaine Kearse, who pulled in the pass for a 43-yard touchdown to cap a two-play, 80-yard drive that took 57 seconds.
“Marshawn’s probably creeping around here somewhere, so, I’ll say it was a good throw,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.
Wilson credited Lynch with a “strike” before downgrading the pass to “not a ball.”
The gadget play brought memories of the end of last season when the Seahawks began to run a more open-ended offense. It was also one of several big plays on the day.
Lynch had the 37-yard run to set up the play. Baldwin had a 30-yard gain. Kearse averaged 25 yards per catch. Wide receiver Golden Tate had a 46-yard catch.
“We’re just growing as a whole,” Baldwin said of the offense. “Offensively, I thought it was a complete game.”
Once again, the offensive line was missing three starters with center Max Unger out because of concussions symptoms. Left tackle Russell Okung (toe) and right tackle Breno Giacomini (knee) have missed several weeks.
That meant more of a chance for rookie Alvin Bailey. Bailey was used at left tackle on third down and at right guard later in the game when starter J.R. Sweezy was shaken up.
The undrafted Bailey played his most snaps of the season Sunday. He played tackled and guard for Arkansas, which he said helped him to bounce around against the Falcons.
“We prepare in practice for everything,” Bailey said. “I just make sure I know how to play every position, really.”
When Bailey went to left tackle, left guard James Carpenter came out and Paul McQuistan slid in from tackle. That meant that the Seahawks were playing two rookie tackles (Michael Bowie is the other) and a backup center (Lemuel Jeanpierre) during their ninth win of the season.
“I think the strength of this game was the three guys playing: Bowie, Alvin and Lem,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
To boost the line, Okung, Giacomini and Unger could all return next week. Okung and Giacomini are scheduled to be at practice Wednesday. Giacomini will be allowed to play whenever he is ready. Sunday’s game against Minnesota will be the first time Okung can be activated after being put on short-term injury reserve following Week 2.
“We have a chance to get some guys back next week, but didn’t miss a beat,” Carroll said. “That’s a big accomplishment.”
NO RED, NO PROBLEM
The defense was missing captain Red Bryant who was out with concussions symptoms, but it still easily handled the Falcons.
After being gashed by the run the previous two weeks, Seattle held Atlanta to 64 rushing yards. Asked what the remedy was, linebacker K.J. Wright said it didn’t have to do with coaching or effort.
“It’s a stay in your gap thing,” Wright said. “When you get there, go downhill and hit your guy thing. We were just too conservative with going downhill like we were supposed to. Attack the gap, be a real linebacker.”
Defensive tackle Michael Brooks, activated Saturday, contributed a tackle.
BROWNER, MCDANIEL HURT
Cornerback Brandon Browner left the game in the first half with a groin injury and did not return.
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel left the game in the second half because of a hamstring injury and did not return.
Carroll had no further injury updates postgame.
Rookie running back Christine Michael had eight carries for 33 yards late in the fourth quarter. … Kicker Steven Hauschka hit four more field goals, including a season-long 53 yarder, making him 22-for-23 (96 percent) on the season. … Cornerback Richard Sherman traded jerseys with Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez at the end of the game. “He’s a Hall of Famer and has been a great player in this league for a long time,” Sherman said. “You always respect great players. It’s an honor to play against him.” … Cornerback Walter Thurmond forced a fumble after giving up a big play. Earlier in the game, he broke out his celebratory strut based on pro wrestler Ric Flair.