Chris Carson is on a roll.
For the third consecutive game, the Seahawks running back cleared 100 rushing yards. For the fourth consecutive game, he scored at least one touchdown.
Perhaps most impressively, Carson rushed for a career-high 122 yards in Seattle’s 27-24 win Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field behind a shuffled offensive line that had three of the five positions missing its usual starter.
Guards D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy both missed the regular season finale against Arizona with injuries, and right tackle Germain Ifedi shifted over right guard to fill the void.
“Arizona always plays us tough,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “Offensively, on the line, this was a poor performance. I’m not very happy about it at all. We had a lot of breakdowns of protection. We didn’t run the ball consistently. We broke almost a big one that got our total up, but consistently, we weren’t as good as we have been in the past.”
And yet, Carson still managed to eclipse 100 rushing yards for the sixth time this season — bolstered in part by a 61-yard run he broke off late in the third quarter that set up a Mike Davis touchdown run — and punch in a touchdown early in the second quarter.
“There’s going to be times like that, when the running game is going to take a minute to get going, but we were one big play away from having a big spark, and that’s what happened today,” Carson said. “The offensive line did a great job sticking with it, and we came out with a victory.”
Carson had 19 attempts, pushing his season total to 247 carries for 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns, which keeps him among the top 10 running backs in the NFL this season in total rushing yards.
He’s rushed for 100-plus yards against Dallas — who the Seahawks will meet Saturday to open the playoffs — the Los Angeles Rams, Detroit, San Francisco and Kansas City this season.
Carson now ranks 17th all-time in Seahawks franchise history for rushing leaders in a single season, despite appearing in at least one less game than every player in front of him, and two less than most.
Brown has consistently praised Carson for his ability to churn out extra yards after contact, and Carson continued to showcase that strength against the Cardinals.
His TD with 11 minutes, 39 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Seahawks their biggest lead of the game at 14-3, and he again made his way into the end zone after contact with a defender.
Carson broke through an attempted ankle tackle at the Arizona 5, planted his left hand on the ground to stay up, and lunged forward for the 7-yard score.
What Brown said last week, after Carson passed 1,000 yards for the season in a win over the Chiefs, merits repeating: “We get down to the goal line, there’s no doubt in our minds he’s going to get in. That’s just the kind of guy he’s been. Doesn’t say much, very quiet. But, he goes about his business, and guys don’t want to tackle him for four quarters.”
Carson had to stay patient after his touchdown run — the Seahawks went three-and-out on their next five drives — before eventually breaking free for his longest run of the season.
With less than eight minutes to play in the third, facing third-and-6 at the Seattle 6, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked, lost the ball, and the Cardinals recovered, and ran in for an apparent touchdown. But, defensive holding erased the score.
Carson ripped through a hole in the middle of the line on the next play, with a fresh set of downs, scampering for 61 yards before he was ushered out of bounds at the Arizona 28. For a moment, it seemed Carson would reach the end zone but he was pleased enough with setting Seattle up in Cardinals territory when the Seahawks were clinging to a one-point lead.
“I never think I’m gone,” Carson said with a smile. “I know I’m not a speedy guy. That defensive player ... did a great job of trying to cover me up. It was a 61-yard run, so I’m just happy I got it.”
Two plays later, Davis got around the corner for a 17-yard TD that gave Seattle a 21-13 margin midway through the third.
“That was definitely a great job by the offensive line blocking that up, and we knew a big play was going to happy, with the linebackers playing so close up to the line, wanting to stop the run,” Carson said of his long carry. “They said all along during halftime, that once you get past that first level, it’s going to be nothing but daylight.
“So, the offensive line did a great job blocking, and that made my job easy to run.”