Rookie Alvin Bailey is officially listed by the Seattle Seahawks as their third-string left tackle.
Surely most offensive linemen that far back in the depth chart don’t see the significant offensive-team snaps the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Bailey played in the NFC Championship game Sunday.
Seattle wanted to play power-rushing football against one of the most physically-gifted set of outside linebackers in the NFL in San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith.
So a dozen times or so Sunday, coach Pete Carroll decided to bypass a second tight end like Luke Willson for a third tackle – and that was Bailey.
“Their big guys on the edge … we wanted to make sure and match up and not be even in size – we wanted to be better than that,” Carroll said. “We thought Alvin could help us out.”
In fact, almost accidentally, it was Bailey who sprung “Beast Mode” – running back Marshawn Lynch – loose for the team’s first touchdown just five minutes into the third quarter.
With Bailey ahead of him a few yards, Lynch charged up the middle and ran into his blocker’s backside. Coming to a halt, Lynch redirected to the right and outran a herd of 49ers defenders to the end zone on a 40-yard touchdown scamper that tied the game.
It was the big play that propelled Seattle to a 23-17 victory at CenturyLink Field.
“I didn’t feel him. I was blocking and I really couldn’t see,” Bailey said. “It was a great run by him obviously. I didn’t really think of Marshawn as a speed guy, but he was able to run away from them.”
Bailey was one of key unsung cogs that got the Seahawks rolling in their rushing offense, which racked up 115 yards.
The undrafted rookie out of Arkansas has played on the team’s field-goal and PAT kick units all season, but also 81 offensive snaps heading into the game Sunday.
Seattle had dabbled in that three-tackle set on occasion earlier this season, especially inside the opponents’ 5-yard line. It never seemed to get untracked.
“Every time we’d run it, something would happen – an offside (call) or delay of game or something like that,” Bailey said.
Bailey played all five of his snaps against New Orleans in the NFC Divisional playoff on special teams. But early last week, the Oklahoma native was put on alert by coaches that they intended to utilize him a lot in three-tackle sets against San Francisco.
“Their outside linebackers are awesome – awesome,” Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. “You need a little more girth on them. You need bigger guys on them to kind of beat them up a little bit. We call them body shots. I thought Alvin played a heck of a game.”
And every time Bailey entered the game, he had to go first to head referee Gene Steratore to declare himself a tight end before joining the huddle.
To which Steratore announced to the entire stadium: “No. 78 is an eligible receiver.”
“After a while … once I went on the field, I just pointed at (Steratore),” Bailey said, “and he knew what was going on.
“We had a few errors blocking, and it took us a little while to get going. That is part of the game. And that is part of our style – it might not be pretty at first, but as the game goes on, you can keep grinding them down.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442