Two issues dominated the postgame scene inside the Seahawks' locker room following today's reviving, 19-3 win over NFC West-leading Arizona:
1. The meeting of more unity and trust 10 "core" veteran players had with coach Pete Carroll a couple days ago, and the effect that had on the most complete defensive effort of the season.
2. The ongoing sideshow that follows Marshawn Lynch's every move -- and even fewer words.
Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas were among the 10, self-described “core” veterans that met a few days ago with coach Pete Carroll to re-set the Super Bowl champions’ azimuth for the final six games of their so-far rocky 2014 season.
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Those veterans feel this thrust of trust led to Sunday’s grounding of the previously soaring Cardinals – and may turn around Seattle’s season in time for a late-season push toward another postseason appearance.
“I think so,” Baldwin said. “Everyone who plays in the NFL is talented, athletically, is gifted physically. However, the subtle difference between what’s good, what’s great and what’s legendary is the mental side of it and also the emotional side of it.
“It’s us trusting each other. Feeling each other. Feeling what it is to play as a team.”
The wide receiver and team leader went deeper. And not on a post pattern, either.
“That was the theme of the week; we had to get back to trusting each other,” Baldwin said. “I spoke to Earl about it earlier in the week. I told him a team in order for a team or a collective group to live and to thrive the individual must die. Not necessarily die as in, you’re not breathing. It means the ego. We as a collective must realize if we trust everyone on this team, if we trust each individual, each other, to go out there … do what we are supposed to do and not try to do too much and trust each other, then the sky will be the limit for us.
“We will be unstoppable, because we will all be playing together. … I feel like today we kind of found it. Trusting each other, respecting each other, going out and playing for each other.”
How did that show up while Seattle’s offense drove six times to Arizona’s 20 or beyond and its defense throttled the Cardinals to their season lows in points and yards (204) today?
“You can see the enthusiasm,” Baldwin said. “You can see all the pieces playing together. There wasn’t anyone out of position trying to do too much, trying to make a play on an individual basis. It was, ‘Let’s just go out there and do this together.’”
The younger recipients got the message.
“When we play as a team, I really think we are unstoppable,” said tight end Cooper Helfet, who caught the clinching touchdown pass from Wilson late in the third quarter. “We kind of embraced ‘We all we got. We all we need.’”
As for Lynch ... Just like Denver in February’s Super Bowl, he finished with 39 yards on 15 carries. The Cardinals’ third-ranked run defense blitzed to stop Lynch’s running as much as Wilson’s passing.
But that was not even half his story.
Lynch was out for two of the drives that first half with what the team announced was a recurrence of his sore lower back; Carroll said afterward was nausea.
“He got sick to his stomach. He was about ready to throw up over on the sidelines, so he had to wait it out," Carroll said.'
His back looked looser at the start today then it was last week in the bitter cold of Kansas City. He looked elusive and fluid on Seattle's first drive. But then he sat out the next two -- Robert Turbin replaced him, with Christine Michael nowhere to be found. Michael and third quarterback Tarvaris Jackson were the only two active Seahawks to not appear in the game. His back has been a bigger issue keeping him off the field the last two games than it was in the first nine. That's a concern with the Seahawks and Lynch getting just three days between this win and the Thanksgiving-night showdown at San Francisco. The Seahawks practice tomorrow and Tuesday, normally days the players have off from the field.
Lynch, by the way, not only jogged off the field with his teammates at the start of halftime but skipped into the Seahawks' locker room. Apparently he only stays out when the wind chill is 10 degrees, as it was when he stayed outside on Seattle's bench at halftime to stretch his back and get treatment for it last week at Kansas City.
After the game, Lynch may have avoided another $100,000 fine from the NFL for not talking to the media. He sat at his locker wearing a plaid, hunter-style, fuzzy hat with ear flaps and answering 22 questions with 54 words in 3½ minutes of mostly “yeah.”
Excuse the typos, but there is all of what he said, verbatim, at his locker.
Or the video, posted by SB Nation.
We've discussed this here before, but to reiterate: I and most of my colleagues in the Seattle-area media have no issue with Lynch not talking after games or even between them, for that matter. That's his deal, his preference, his vibe. And when he is forced to talk, it's a useless, frustrating and frankly demeaning waste of taste for him and for us. So why do it?
Well, beyond the NFL collective bargaining agreement and contracts require players be available to media members on a regular basis throughout the season, the national media who have been coming to cover Seahawks games across the country this season with increasing frequency warranted to a Super Bowl-champion team complains. They find Lynch gone from locker rooms and are aghast, affronted or whatever. They have called or e-mailed NFL media officials on multiple occasions this season. That is what prompted the league to issue Lynch a $100,000 fine this week for not talking following his 124-yard rushing day last week at Kansas City.
To underscore the league media's infatuation with how accessible Lynch is or isn't, consider that after I tweeted the above transcript today Yahoo! Sports, ESPN and ABC another national outlets picked it up and blew it out.
You have to hand it to Lynch: What he did today, however useless in reporting for stories and sound bites, likely by the letter of NFL law saved him another $100,000 fine.