With the game on the line, Marshawn Lynch became “Beast Moot.”
Fourth-and-6 at the Seattle 23, with 2:40 remaining and the Seahawks trailing Dallas 27-23. Because the Seahawks had just one time out remaining, they used it and went for the first down rather than punt.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s play call sent Lynch off the field in favor of more wide receivers. Lynch had already been quiet for much of the game because the Cowboys controlled 38 minutes of possession; he had just two carries in the first half.
Lynch, who had 13 catches for three touchdowns in the first four games, glared in the direction of his coaches as he got to the sidelines.
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Russell Wilson’s pass went way wide of covered Jermaine Kearse. Dallas kicked a field goal, and though the Seahawks got the ball back with no timeouts and 1:09 left, the game essentially ended the way most of it went: with Lynch a nonfactor.
Lynch, the Seahawks’ 1,200-yard rushing force last season, finished with just 10 carries and 61 yards — 32 of them on one romp in the third quarter.
Since acquiring him in a trade from Buffalo four games into the 2010 season, the Seahawks’ record when giving Lynch 10 or fewer carries is now 2-9. That includes 0-2 this season.
Lynch had just six carries for 36 yards last month in San Diego when — like on Sunday — the Seahawks had an opponent completely control the time of possession to keep their offense on the sideline.
No matter how many creative formations, fly sweeps and Percy Harvin tailback looks Bevell has in the playbook, few guys will be happy with their touches when the offense has just 40 plays (in San Diego) and 48 (Sunday) to use them.
“We tried to come back and get back in the rhythm,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Marshawn did a nice job, popped a run, and got some stuff going. He was busting his tail to help us, but we just couldn’t get in sync and get the rhythm and connect it with the third-down conversions.”
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin had a strong suspicion he’d be able to block a punt when he saw the Cowboys align in a certain way midway through the first period.
“It was something we actually installed my rookie season,” Baldwin said, recalling a 2011 game at St. Louis. “The same situation happened when I blocked it and (Michael Robinson) picked it up and scored a touchdown.”
This time, it was linebacker Mike Morgan who recovered the block and ran 25 yards for the touchdown to give the Seahawks an early 10-0 lead.
“It was a designed play,” Baldwin said. “A great play by (Brian) Schneider, our special teams coach.”
Morgan said it was his first touchdown off a block since he was playing at Skyline High School — in Dallas. He credited film study last week.
“The center kind of gave us a cut when he was going to snap the ball,” Morgan said. “Doug timed it up perfectly.”
During Dallas’ drives to 17 consecutive points, which included a 15-play march to a field goal that tied the game midway through the second quarter, the Seahawks lost key middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to a right foot injury and right cornerback Byron Maxwell to an ankle injury. Wagner returned after halftime but was wearing a walking boot in the locker room following the game.
As soon as he left, Dallas exploited the middle of Seattle’s defense with underneath throws and runs by DeMarco Murray.
“I was in some pain but I tried to fight through it,” said Wagner, who finished with a season-low seven tackles.
Carroll said Wagner jammed his big toe and that “we don’t know (the prognosis) right now. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Maxwell never did return after he got hurt in the second quarter leaping to break up a pass near the goal line to Dez Bryant. He left the field while seated on the back of a motorized cart.
The coach said Maxwell has a sprained ankle that could be a high ankle sprain. If so, that would keep him out well beyond Sunday’s game at St. Louis.
The injuries to an already-thin back half of the defense left the Seahawks with undrafted rookie Brock Coyle at middle linebacker, Aug. 30 trade pick-up Marcus Burley guarding the game-breaking Bryant at right cornerback and Saturday practice-squad promotion Steve Terrell as nickel defensive back. Eventually, Seattle was forced to move All-Pro Richard Sherman out of his usual, left-cornerback-only role to shadow Bryant all over the field.
Sherman and Bryant squared off 15 times. Romo targeted Bryant seven times in those matchups for two catches, an interference penalty on Sherman and a pass Sherman knocked down.
Kam Chancellor started at strong safety. He had been questionable to play after a new strained hip kept him out of practices Thursday and Friday.
Chancellor still has missed just one game because of injury in his five seasons with the Seahawks. That was Oct. 2, 2011, against Atlanta because of a strained quadriceps.
The Baldwin-Morgan TD was Seattle’s first punt block returned for a score since September 2012, Jeron Johnson’s — also against Dallas. … Rookie LB Kevin Pierre-Louis recovered the muffed punt by Dallas’ Dwayne Harris in the third quarter at the Cowboys 14. Two plays later, Russell Wilson ran nine yards to tie the game at 17. … Seattle’s inactives: C Max Unger (sprained foot), CB Tharold Simon (knee), TE Zach Miller (ankle surgery), rookie WRs Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood (youth), RB Christine Michael (odd man out of RB rotation) and T Andrew McDonald (last man in O-line rotation).