Stats & Info: Marshawn Lynch

Lynch has second gear after first contact

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27

Kirby Lee/USA TodayMarshawn Lynch’s average yards after contact is higher in the postseason than in the regular season.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 157 yards and totaled 183 yards from scrimmage in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers to lead the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

Both totals were career highs for Lynch and highly valuable in a game Russell Wilson posted the second-worst Total QBR (13.6) of his career.

Lynch will look to cap a career-best season with another big performance in Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots.

Better than ever
Lynch has rushed for 1,000 yards and scored double-digit touchdowns in every full season he has played with the Seahawks, but the 2014 season has been his best.

Lynch scored a career-high 17 touchdowns in the regular season, 13 rushing and four receiving. Lynch had five receiving touchdowns in the first seven seasons of his career.

Although he gained more yards from scrimmage in 2012 (1,786) than he did in 2014 (1,673), he made the most of his touches this season. Lynch gained a first down on 26 percent of his offensive touches this season, the highest of his career.

Of course, Lynch is best known for his physical running style. He averaged 2.53 yards after contact on 280 rushes this season. ESPN Stats & Info’s yards-after-contact data goes to 2009, and in that time there have been two instances of a player rushing 200 times and averaging more yards after contact –- and that includes Adrian Peterson’s MVP campaign in 2012.

Key to the Seahawks
Since joining the Seahawks during the 2010 season, Lynch has led the NFL in rushes (1,346), rushing yards (5,930) and rushing touchdowns (54).

As Lynch goes, so do the Seahawks. Including playoffs, the team has gone 39-11 (.780) in games Lynch scores a touchdown and is 14-0 when he scores at least twice. When Lynch doesn’t score, the Seahawks have gone 16-18 (.471, including playoffs), and that doesn’t include the one game Lynch missed since Seattle acquired him (a loss).

Lynch has averaged 107 yards from scrimmage, including 90 yards rushing, in Seahawks wins in his career. In losses, he has averaged 74 yards from scrimmage, including 62 rush yards.

That success has been magnified in the postseason, where Lynch has exceeded his regular-season averages. In nine postseason games, Lynch has averaged 5.0 yards per rush, compared with 4.4 in the regular season. The increase almost exactly matches his increase in rushing yards after contact from the regular season to the postseason.

Lynch has 815 career yards rushing in the postseason, which ranks 13th all time. He needs 77 yards to pass Larry Csonka and move up to eighth. If Lynch does so, he’ll be behind six Hall of Famers (Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, Tony Dorsett, Marcus Allen and John Riggins) as well as former Super Bowl and NFL MVP Terrell Davis.

Power rankings: Seahawks up to No. 2

December, 23, 2014

Ross D. Franklin/APOn designed runs and when scrambling, Russell Wilson has been effective.
The Seattle Seahawks had their struggles earlier in the season, at one point dropping to 3-3 in the standings and 11th in the weekly NFL Power Rankings.

The Seahawks have climbed back to No. 2 overall in the most recent rankings, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have been running over defenses, and the “Legion of Boom” is booming again.

Are the Seahawks once again the team to beat?

Defensive dominance
Over the past five weeks of the season, the Seahawks have allowed 33 points (6.6 points per game). To put that into perspective, every other team in the NFL has allowed more than twice that the past five weeks (Panthers next closest: 71 points). There have also been 31 instances of a team scoring 33 points in a game the last five weeks.

The best five-game stretch for the Seahawks’ defense last season was 52 points allowed (10.4 per game), which also occurred during the stretch run (Weeks 13-17).

The key to the defensive turnaround has been the return of the stout pass defense. In addition to allowing under 50 percent completions the last five weeks, the Seahawks have recorded at least three sacks in five straight, something they did twice in the first 10 games of the season.

The hot stretch has allowed the Seahawks to take over the league lead in points allowed and yards allowed. The Seahawks led the NFL in both categories last season as well.

Running wild
The Seahawks rank first in the NFL in rush yards (175.3 per game) and yards per rush (5.4) and are tied for most rushing touchdowns (19). The Seahawks have gained more yards on the ground with one game to play than they had in any other season in franchise history.

Several factors have keyed the Seahawks’ rush game this season, but maybe none more than Wilson’s willingness to run.

Wilson has gained 842 rush yards this season, which is the most by a quarterback since Michael Vick rushed for 1,039 yards in 2006.

Wilson has gained most of his yards (523) via scrambles, but all six of his touchdowns have come on designed rushes.

His running mate, Lynch, needs 12 yards to post the second-most rushing yards of his career. The generally hard-to-tackle Lynch has averaged 2.6 yards per rush after contact this season, which would rate as the highest of his career.

Home-field still countsThe Seahawks lost in Seattle this season (Cowboys in Week 6), but their home-field advantage hasn’t disappeared.

The Seahawks are 21-2 in Seattle since drafting Wilson in 2012. Only the Broncos and Patriots have been as good at home in that time.

With a win against the Rams on Sunday and a Cowboys loss, the Seahawks would clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Are the Pacers the Seahawks of the NBA?

February, 7, 2014
The Indiana Pacers have the league’s best record this season (38-10). The Pacers boast the NBA’s top defense and one of the brightest young stars in Paul George.

The way the Pacers were built, coupled with their performance this season, is similar to the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks.

Years in the making

Neither the Seahawks nor Pacers were built overnight. The bases of each team were built through the draft, and supplemented through trades and free agency.

Paul George was taken 10th overall in 2010. Lance Stephenson was taken in that same draft with the 40th pick. Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger were both taken with the 17th pick (Hibbert in 2008, Granger in 2005).

Add those players to trade acquisitions George Hill and Luis Scola, plus free-agent David West, and you have a formidable, deep team.

The Seahawks were built in a similar fasion.

Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were all taken in the third round or later. Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin were acquired in trades.

Key pass rushers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were signed this past offseason, luxuries the Seahawks could easily afford because of the money they saved by using their late-round draft picks well.

Cheap star power

Hitting on a lower draft pick can lead to cheap production, freeing up money for other players. The Seahawks hit big with Wilson. The Pacers hit big with George.

Wilson cost only $681,085 against the Seahawks’ salary cap in 2013. There were 53 quarterbacks with a higher cap value in 2013, including Wilson’s backup, Tarvaris Jackson.

George’s cap hit for the Pacers this season is just more than $3.2 million. There are 189 players that count for a bigger hit against their team’s cap, including Granger ($14.0 million), who has averaged 8.2 points per game this season.

Win with defense

The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season, allowing 14.4 per game. The Seahawks’ defensive efficiency was also best in the NFL (+7.2 expected points added per game).

The Pacers have allowed the fewest points per game in the NBA this season (90.2) and the fewest points per 100 possessions (93.9).

Looking ahead

The Pacers host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight (ESPN, 7 Eastern). The Blazers average 107.7 points per game this season, the most in the NBA.

This isn't the first time this week that the top scoring offense in a league has met the top scoring defense. In Super Bowl XLVIII, the Denver Broncos had the top scoring offense in the NFL.

That game worked out well for the defense, as the Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8.

Doug Clawson contributed to this post.

Matchup to watch: Lynch vs. Broncos' D

January, 28, 2014

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has played in six career postseason games, and he’s rushed for at least 100 yards in four of them. The Denver Broncos have allowed only one 100-yard rushing game by a player all season (Ryan Mathews, Week 15).

Both Lynch and the Broncos’ rush defense are peaking in the postseason, making the matchup one of the most important to watch in Super Bowl XLVIII.

What Lynch does well
Lynch has averaged 93.3 rush yards per game in the postseason throughout his career, same as Emmitt Smith. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, of all the players who have played five postseason games, only three have averaged more rush yards than Lynch.

As evidenced by his beastly 67-yard touchdown run in 2010 against the Saints, Lynch’s greatest strength is his strength.

Lynch gained 66 of his 307 career postseason rush yards after contact on that play alone. His average of 2.8 yards per rush after contact is the best of any player with at least 25 postseason rushes since 2010.

The Seahawks like to run Lynch inside, as 80 percent of his rushes as a Seahawk have been between the tackles. Lynch is averaging 5.7 yards on those runs this postseason after averaging 4.1 yards in the regular season.

What the Broncos do well
The Broncos have made it a habit this postseason to shut down the run game. The San Diego Chargers were held to 65 rush yards a week after gaining 196 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The New England Patriots were held to 64 yards a week after gaining 234 against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Broncos' biggest strengths in stopping the run happen to be Lynch’s strengths as well.

Including the playoffs, the Broncos have allowed 1.4 yards per rush after first contact, fifth best in the NFL this season. The Broncos have allowed 30 yards after contact to only three running backs this season (Ryan Mathews twice, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew), a mark Lynch has hit 11 times this season.

The Broncos are also at their toughest between the tackles, in large part due to defensive tackle Terrance Knighton .

The Broncos have allowed 3.7 yards per rush between the tackles this season (including the playoffs), tied for second best in the NFL. With Knighton on the field, that number dips to 2.9 yards. With Knighton off the field, it jumps to 4.7.

Who has the upper hand?
The Broncos finished the regular season in the top 10 of yards per rush allowed (10th), as did all three of the Seahawks’ divisional foes.

Lynch failed to gain 100 rush yards in any of his six regular-season games against division opponents, averaging 3.8 yards per rush, with 1.8 coming after first contact. Against the rest of the NFL, Lynch averaged 4.4 yards overall and 2.0 after contact.

But as the San Francisco 49ers can attest, stopping Lynch in the playoffs is easier said than done. Lynch rushed for 109 yards in the NFC Championship Game, with 41 coming after first contact (1.9 per rush). Lynch gained 43 yards after contact at 0.9 per rush in the regular season versus the 49ers.

Keys to victory: Seahawks 23, 49ers 17

January, 19, 2014
The Seattle Seahawks had the top defense in the NFL during the regular season.

That unit came through when it was most needed as the Seahawks edged the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in the NFC Championship Game.

The Seahawks advance to face the Denver Broncos in what will be the Super Bowl's first matchup of the top offensive team against the top defensive team since the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants in the 1990 season.

Seattle overcame a 10-point deficit to win. The Seahawks won all three games this season in which they trailed by 10 or more points.

Play of the Game- Smith’s interception
Seahwaks defensive back Malcolm Smith did not have an interception until Week 16. Heha s now had three in his past four games.

This one, which thwarted the 49ers' potential game-winning drive, came after Richard Sherman tipped away a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone.

It was only the second time in the past two seasons that Kaepernick was intercepted on a pass intended for Crabtree.

Marshawn Lynch rushed for 109 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run. This was the fourth time in his Seahawks career that he rushed for at least 100 yards in a playoff game. All other Seahawks have combined for four such games.

Lynch had 107 of those yards rushing between the tackles, the most by any player against the 49ers in the past five seasons.

Lynch has the top three rushing touchdowns by distance in Seahawks postseason history. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that his four postseason rushing touchdowns of 25 yards or more are twice as many as anyone else.

Baldwin for the win
Doug Baldwin finished with 106 receiving yards, the second-most he has had in any game in his career. He also had three kickoff returns for 109 yards, including a 69-yarder that set up a field goal by Steven Hauschka. Baldwin had returned only three kicks for the Seahawks all season prior to Sunday.

Containing Kaepernick
Kaepernick had a 58-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but did not scramble much after that. Kaepernick had only three second-half rushes after running eight times in the first half.

Kaepernick also finished 2-for-9 for 33 yards and two interceptions on throws outside the painted numbers, including the 49ers' final play of the season.

Kaepernick threw multiple interceptions in a game for the second time this season. The other instance was a three-interception game against the Seahawks in Week 2.

Keys to victory: Seahawks 23, Saints 15

January, 11, 2014
Harry How/Getty ImagesMarshawn Lynch set a Seahawks postseason record with 140 rushing yards in Saturday's win.
The Seattle Seahawks entered Saturday having lost their previous four divisional playoff games, and their 2-6 record all-time in the round was tied for the second-worst mark among teams with at least three divisional playoff appearances.

But Seattle rode another “beastly” effort from Marshawn Lynch, along with a stellar performance from its defensive secondary, to pick up the 23-15 win over the New Orleans Saints and secure a spot in the conference championship for the third time in franchise history.

Seahawks offensive key: Marshawn Lynch
Lynch finished the game with a Seahawks postseason-record 140 rushing yards, breaking a mark he previously shared with Shaun Alexander. Lynch now has three of the four highest single-game rushing yardage totals in Seahawks history.

For his career, Lynch now has three 130-yard rushing games in the postseason. Under the current NFL playoff format (dating back to 1990), only Terrell Davis and Thurman Thomas have more such games.

Lynch did the majority of his work going right up the middle, with 19 of his 28 rushes to that area, for 108 yards (5.7 yards per rush). On the nine rushes outside the tackles, Lynch gained just 32 yards, for 3.6 yards per carry. Thirty-one of those yards came on his fourth-quarter touchdown run.

In true “Beast Mode” form, Lynch finished with 66 rush yards after contact. In Seattle’s Week 13 victory over the Saints, Lynch finished with just 45 total rush yards on 16 carries.

Seahawks defensive key: limiting Jimmy Graham and screen passes
During the regular season, Jimmy Graham led the Saints in receptions and receiving yards and scored a team-high 16 touchdowns (no other player scored more than five). On defense Saturday, Seattle managed to limit the Saints tight end to just one reception for eight yards on six targets.

At the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was 0-for-4 when targeting Graham, with all four incompletions having been broken up by Seahawks defenders.

Thanks in part to Seattle limiting Graham, the Saints finished just 3-for-12 (25 percent) on third down. During the regular season, the Saints were third in the NFL and tops in the NFC, converting 43.9 percent of their third downs.

New Orleans also struggled with screen passes, usually a strength of the team. The Saints ran six screen passes Saturday, gaining positive yards on only one of those plays.

During the regular season, the Saints led the league in screen-pass completions to running backs with 59, 14 more than any other team, and were third in yardage on screen passes to running backs.
The Seattle Seahawks hope we’ve seen this weekend’s NFC divisional playoff game before.

Seattle scored a decisive 34-7 home victory in Week 13 over the New Orleans Saints, who had one of the worst offensive games of the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era. The 27-point loss was the second largest under Payton-Brees, and their points, yards and first-down totals were all the fewest in a game in at least five years.

They get a chance for redemption Saturday but will have to deal with CenturyLink Field again. Here are four matchups that will help decide the game:

Drew Brees’ deep ball vs. Seahawks secondary
Brees had his worst game of the season in Week 13. He completed multiple passes at least 15 yards downfield in every game this season except that one (0-for-8). Though he didn’t throw an interception, Seattle defenders broke up five of Brees’ eight deep attempts in that game.

The Seahawks held Brees without a deep completion in a game for the second time in the past eight seasons. Brees targeted six different Saints on those eight throws, highlighting the skill and depth of Seattle’s pass defense.

Brees rebounded well, completing 57 percent of his deep throws over the final four weeks of the regular season (second in the league). But his next deep completion against Seattle will be his first this year, and the Saints will need better production from their passing game to advance.

Rob Ryan vs. Marshawn Lynch/Russell Wilson
Brees wasn’t the only star player who underperformed in that Week 13 matchup. Lynch had 16 rushes for 45 yards, a 2.8 yards per rush average (his second lowest of the season).

Lynch was limited because New Orleans keyed in on stopping Seattle’s ground game. The Saints loaded the box (more defenders than blockers) on 23 plays, the fifth-highest total of the season. The only quarterbacks they loaded a box against more this season were Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, Mike Glennon and Tom Brady early in the season (without Rob Gronkowski and with inexperienced receivers).

The problem for Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was 5-foot-11 Wilson had no trouble against the loaded box. Wilson finished 8-of-9 for 119 yards and two touchdowns when the Saints loaded the box. Ryan’s strategy slowed Lynch but enabled Wilson to shred the Saints’ secondary.

Seattle’s pass rush vs. Saints offensive line
The Seahawks secondary isn’t the only strength of the defense. Their pass rush ranks first in controlling the line of scrimmage overall and when sending a four-man rush. No team in the league has pressured opposing quarterbacks more often than Seattle (203 times).

The Saints did a good job this season of protecting Brees, who was under pressure or sacked on the fourth-lowest percentage of dropbacks in the league. They are strengths of their respective teams, but the Seahawks did enough to disrupt Brees in Week 13.

Brees was under pressure or sacked on 11 of 39 dropbacks (28 percent), his third-highest percentage this season. Brees was sacked only once, but it was a first-quarter Cliff Avril strip-sack that Michael Bennett returned 22 yards for a touchdown.

Percy Harvin vs. Keenan Lewis?
The Seahawks offense has been effective this season without Harvin, who returned to practice this week and is a possibility for Saturday’s game. Harvin’s league-best 8.5 yards after catch per reception average in 2012 might have been even better if he played with a better deep-ball quarterback.

Christian Ponder missed on 55 percent of throws deeper than 20 yards downfield in 2012 with Harvin and connected only once in his career on a deep throw with Harvin. Wilson connected on 26 deep throws this season, third most in the league, and would likely use Harvin better than Ponder if Harvin is healthy.

It appears that Lewis will play Saturday. He held DeSean Jackson without a catch before he left with a concussion last weekend and may draw Harvin if he’s healthy.

Top stats to know: Seahawks at Rams

October, 28, 2013

Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
Russell Wilson is unbeaten at home since joining the league, but has not played as well on the road.

It’s a big night for sports in St. Louis. The city is hosting both the World Series and Monday Night Football as the St. Louis Rams take on the Seattle Seahawks (8 ET/ESPN).

Here are five stats to know going into tonight’s gridiron action.

1. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks return to Monday Night Football for the first time since Week 3 of the 2012 season, when Wilson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate as time expired to beat the Packers, 14-12. The play was subsequently dubbed the “Fail Mary” and the “Inaccurate Reception” by various outlets and it led to the almost immediate resolution of the labor dispute between the NFL and its referees.

That was the second game of what is an active 11-game home win streak for Russell Wilson to start his career. However, on the road, Wilson and the Seahawks are 6-6 and as you can see in the graphic to the right, the second-year quarterback has not exceled away from home.

2. Sam Bradford will miss the rest of the season for the Rams with a torn ACL. His 14 touchdown passes this season was by far his highest total in any season through seven games. Bradford had also led the Rams to a 5-2-1 record versus the NFC West since the start of last season – the best divisional record by any of the four NFC West teams over that time.

3. Taking over for Bradford under center will be Kellen Clemens. Clemens started the final three games of the 2011 season for the Rams, posting an 0-3 record and Total QBR of 22.3. Since the start of 2006, 79 quarterbacks have been involved in at least 500 action plays (passes, sacks, QB rushes or penalties). Of those 79, none have posted a worse Total QBR than Clemens’ 20.8.

4. Marshawn Lynch has developed into a major backfield weapon for Seattle since he was acquired from the Buffalo Bills in 2010. Lynch has run for 35 touchdowns since he came to the Seahawks, the third-highest total in the NFL during that span.

5. Tavon Austin's average target has been 5.4 yards downfield this season, the shortest of any wide receiver with at least 40 targets. Despite the relative ease of his passes, Austin has six drops, tied with Davone Bess for the most among wide receivers this season.

Did You Know?

Tonight will be the first time a city has ever hosted a World Series game and a Monday Night Football game on the same day, according to Elias. The only other time a metropolitan area hosted a World Series game and Monday Night Football on the same day was Oct. 27, 1986, when the New York Mets hosted the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the World Series in Queens, NY and the New York Giants hosted Washington in East Rutherford, NJ.

Top stats to know: Seahawks at Cardinals

October, 17, 2013

Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will try to avenge last season's road loss to the Cardinals.
Week 7 of the NFL season kicks off tonight as the Arizona Cardinals play host to the Seattle Seahawks.

Last season, the Seahawks lost 20-16, in their Week 1 road game against the Cardinals, but avenged that loss at home in Week 14 with a 58-0 drubbing.

Here are some of the storylines for the game.

1. The Seahawks have won 11 straight home games, but the bad news for them is this game will be played in Arizona. The Seahawks are just 5-6 on the road over the last two regular seasons. In road games this season, the Seattle defense is allowing more than 20 points per game, while allowing opposing quarterbacks a 69 Total QBR. That means the average quarterback playing at home against Seattle is basically producing at a Pro Bowl level this year (Cam Newton, Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck).

To compare, in their three home games this season, the Seahawks have allowed just 11 points per game, and an NFL-best opponents’ Total QBR of 15.

2. Russell Wilson's key for success will be to use play action to set up his pocket passing.

Wilson has attempted 65 throws off play action this season, the second-highest total in the league, and his 93.5 Total QBR on such throws ranks behind only Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

But Wilson will have to avoid leaving the pocket. Over the last two seasons, no quarterback has thrown more from outside the pocket than Wilson. While he excelled on such throws last season (62% comp pct, 71 Total QBR), his numbers have dropped off this season (53% comp pct, 51 Total QBR).

3. The Seahawks defense will have their hands full with Larry Fitzgerald, who showed signs of his old form last week. He had a season-high 117 receiving yards last week, just the second time in his last 19 games that he’s gone over 100 yards.

Still, Carson Palmer has more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) when throwing to Fitzgerald this season. That continues a trend for Arizona that started when Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season.

4. Over the last two seasons, the Cardinals are 1-7 against their fellow NFC West teams, the worst divisional record of any team in the NFL. However, the only win was the aforementioned win over the Seahawks in last season’s Week 1.

5. A matchup to watch is Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch against the Cardinals rush defense.

Lynch has 487 rushing yards this season, the third-most in the NFL. He’s done a large part of his work in the first quarter with 231 of those rushing yards (more than 47 percent) coming in the first quarter, 47 more than any other player.

But the Cardinals rush defense has been stout this season. They’re only allowing 3.5 yards per rush this season, the fourth-best mark in the league. Consider though that after allowing 79 rush yards per game over the first five weeks this season, the Cardinals were gashed for a season-high 149 yards in last week’s loss to San Francisco.

Seahawks-Falcons: Eight notes to know

January, 9, 2013
The NFC Divisional round continues on Sunday at 1 ET when the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons host the Seattle Seahawks, fresh off their win over the Redskins in the Wild Card round.

Here are eight notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the matchup:

With Seattle’s win over the Redskins in the Wild Card round, Russell Wilson became just the sixth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game. Of the previous five, only Mark Sanchez (2009) and Joe Flacco (2008) were able to win a second playoff game that season.

Including the postseason, Matt Ryan is 33-6 in his career at home as a starter. The Patriots (36) and the Ravens (35) are the only teams in the NFL with more home wins since he entered the league in 2008.

No. 1 CURSE?
The Falcons earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history (also 2010), but that hasn’t been a good thing in recent years. The NFC’s No. 1 seed has lost in the Divisional round in four of the last five seasons after going a perfect 17-0 in the Divisional round between 1990 and 2006.

Russell Wilson has six touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last four road games including one in Seattle’s Wild Card win over the Redskins (3-1 W-L). Wilson had four touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first five games on the road (1-4 W-L).

The Falcons have lost four straight playoff games since defeating the Rams in the 2004 Divisional round and are just 6-11 in the postseason all-time. Only the Bengals (.313) have a lower winning percentage than the Falcons (.353) in NFL playoff history.

The Falcons have won three straight games against the Seahawks after going 2-8 in the first 10 meetings between teams all-time. Sunday will be the first meeting in Atlanta since the 2007 regular season finale on December 30, 2007, a game won by the Falcons, 44-41.


Marshawn Lynch tied a Seahawks postseason record with 132 rushing yards in the Wild Card round against the Redskins. It was his fifth straight 100-yard game and 11th such game of the season, one shy of Shaun Alexander’s single-season franchise mark of 12 set in 2005. That season, the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl before falling to the Steelers.

Since Mike Smith and Matt Ryan joined the team in 2008, the Falcons have the NFL’s second-best record in the regular season (56-24) but are 0-3 in the playoffs. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that with a loss Sunday, Matt Ryan will join Y.A. Tittle as the only QBs in NFL history to lose each of their first four postseason starts.

Lynch, Seahawks' option overwhelming

January, 6, 2013
The Washington Redskins-Seattle Seahawks matchup looked like it was going to be a lopsided affair after the first 11 minutes.

But after an early boost by Robert Griffin III, the Redskins' offense sputtered. The Seahawks dominated both sides of the ball in snapping their eight-game road postseason losing streak.

Here’s a look at some of the key notes from their first road playoff win since beating the Miami Dolphins in 1983.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Game
The Seahawks became the third team that was trailing by at least 14 points at the end of the first quarter to win a playoff game, joining the 1957 Detroit Lions and 2003 Philadelphia Eagles.

Seahawks win on the ground
The Seahawks set a franchise record with 224 rushing yards, which was also the most allowed by the Redskins in a postseason game since Super Bowl XVIII against the Raiders (231).

Marshawn Lynch had 132 of them, tying the Seahawks' single-game postseason record, previously held solely by Shaun Alexander.

Lynch holds two of the top three spots on the Seahawks' all-time list. He had a 131-yard game against the Saints in the 2010 postseason.

It was the most rushing yards Lynch had in any game this season. He also set season highs with 65 yards after first contact and a 3.2 yards after contact per rush average.

The Seahawks had a lot of success with the option, netting 110 yards on 11 option rushes (including Lynch’s game-winning score), with 66 of those yards coming in the second half).

Seattle averaged nearly 8 yards before contact on its option runs, compared to 2.6 yards prior to contact on its other runs.

The Seahawks have the most option rushes (61) and option yards (474) of any team since Week 13.

A closer look at RG III
Griffin had a great first 11 minutes, then struggled the rest of the way after making a throw on the run late in the first quarter.

Griffin was 5-for-8 for 64 yards in the first 11:37 and 5-for-11 for only 21 yards the rest of the game.

Griffin was off target (meaning he either underthrew or overthrew his receiver) on five of his 19 throws. Since returning from his Week 14 injury, Griffin’s off-target rate was 25 percent.

Prior to the injury, Griffin’s off-target rate was only 13 percent, second best in the league.

With Griffin hobbled, the Redskins' offense could not do much. Seattle outgained Washington 371-74 in the final three quarters. The Redskins did not run a play in Seahawks territory in that span. They are the only team to not run an offensive play in opponent territory after the first quarter in any playoff game over the past 10 years.

Wilson was good enough
Russell Wilson became the third rookie quarterback to come back from a halftime deficit to win a playoff game, joining Shaun King and Mark Sanchez.

Wilson finished with 187 passing yards and 67 rushing yards. The last quarterback to hit both benchmarks in a playoff game was Donovan McNabb for the 2003 Eagles.

Lynch’s success on the ground helped Wilson along. Wilson finished 8-for-14 on play-action throws, for 119 yards and a touchdown pass to Michael Robinson.

Seahawks-Redskins: Eight notes to know

January, 3, 2013
The Washington Redskins host the Seattle Seahawks at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday in the NFC Wild-Card Playoffs. Here are eight notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the matchup:

First-Year Phenoms
Russell Wilson will face Robert Griffin III in the second playoff game ever between rookie starting quarterbacks. You don’t have to go back too far for the first such meeting, which occurred in last season’s wild-card playoffs when T.J. Yates and the Texans defeated Andy Dalton and the Bengals.

Road Weary
The Seahawks have lost eight straight road playoff games dating back to the 1983 divisional playoffs against the Miami Dolphins. A loss Sunday would match the Lions for the longest postseason road losing streak in NFL history (1970-2011).

Wild-Card Warriors
The Redskins are 5-1 all-time in the wild-card playoffs, tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the opening round by teams with at least four appearances. Unfortunately for Washington, it lost its last wild-card game in 2007 against the Seahawks.

Peaking Late
The Redskins finished the season on a seven-game winning streak after starting a 3-6 start. Washington became the first team since the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars to reach the playoffs after a 3-6 start. That Jaguars team would advance to the AFC Championship Game before falling to the New England Patriots.

Opting for the Option
Nearly 30 percent of the Seahawks’ rushes in the last five weeks of the regular season have utilized a variation of the option after they used it just five times in their first 11 games. On the other sideline, only the Carolina Panthers (146 rushes) have run the option more than the Redskins this season overall (128 rushes).

Turn Down the Pressure
Robert Griffin III posted a 96.8 Total QBR when facing five or more pass rushers in 2012, the highest rating for any qualified quarterback over the past five seasons. Griffin’s success against such pressure has caused teams to dial it back, however, as he has faced four or fewer rushers a league-high 78.8 percent of the time.

Ready for Beast Modee
Marshawn Lynch ranked third in the NFL with 1,590 rushing yards this season and rushed for 100 yards in four straight and eight of his last 10 games. Since 2011, no player has more 100-yard games than Lynch’s 16.

All About Alfred
Alfred Morris finished second in the NFL with 1,613 rush yards this season -- the third-most rush yards by a rookie in NFL history -- and he did it with big plays. Morris had 55 rushes with gains of 10 or more yards this season, second-most in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson (61). Since the start of 2001, only Peterson this season and Ricky Williams in 2002 (57) finished a regular season with more 10-yard rushes than Morris in 2012.

Can Russell Wilson throw downfield on SF?

October, 18, 2012
On Wednesday, ESPN Stats & Info debated which defense has been more impressive in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers?

But what about the leaders -- specifically the quarterbacks -- on the other side of the ball?

At 4-2, Seattle's Russell Wilson is the only one of the five starting rookie QBs who has a winning record.

His first start of the season was on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, and he went 1-of-3 with an interception on throws more than 20 yards downfield. In the five games since, Wilson is 9-for-16 with five touchdowns on such throws. However, the 49ers defense that has yet to allow a score this season on the deep ball.

Wilson has not been the same QB on the road as he has at home. All six of his interceptions have come on the road and his Total QBR ranks 25th at 30.0. Overall, the Seahawks are averaging 15.0 points per game on the road. In fact, Seattle’s offense has not scored more than 16 points in any of its three road games.

So not only have the Seahawks been a different team on the road, but they're playing a 49ers club that has been on roll at home against NFC West opponents.

The 49ers have won 10 straight home games against divisional opponents, the longest active streak in the NFL and the 49ers longest streak since 11 straight home divisional wins from 1991-95.
San Francisco's starting QB, Alex Smith, is coming off a three-interception game in Week 6, snapping a streak of 26 straight games without throwing multiple interceptions.

One indicator of Smith’s success this season has been his effectiveness throwing the ball more than 10 yards downfield (see chart). In 2012, Smith already has thrown more interceptions on throws more than 10 yards downfield (four) than he did all of last season (three).

Both the 49ers and the Seahawks have solid running backs who are coming off their worst games of the season.

Frank Gore had just 36 yards Sunday against the New York Giants, and Marshawn Lynch rushed for 41 yards against the New England Patriots. Last season, however, Lynch rushed for 107 yards in Week 16 against the 49ers. He’s one of only two running backs since the start of 2010 who has rushed for 100 yards against San Francisco. (The other was Ahmad Bradshaw last week.)

Can Gore get back on track against Seattle’s defense, which ranks second against the run this season? Gore has 18 rushes this season of at least 10 yards, which is tied for most in the NFL with the Washington Redskins Alfred Morris. However, the Seahawks have allowed just 10 runs of at least 10 yards this season, that’s tied for second-fewest in the league.

NFL fans tweeted and we answered

October, 6, 2012
What running back has the most yards after contact this year? -- @Mark_Bunker
So far this season, Marshawn Lynch has the most yards after contact with 199. That accounts for 47.0 percent of his 423 rushing yards.

What is the % of Yds after contact for Cedric Benson thru 4 games? -- @rspahn4
45.2 percent (103 of 228) of Cedric Benson’s rush yards have come after contact. Benson is averaging 1.6 yards after contact per rush this season. In fact, that was also his averagein in 2010 and 2011.

Since the start of 2010, which QB's have led the most 4th quarter game-tying or gw drives? -- @SirMatzahBoi3
Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez each have 10 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter/OT since 2010. Next on the list are Drew Brees (9), Joe Flacco and Eli Manning (8 each).

Who is the top-scoring NFL team of all time? -- @dariostero
Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the 2007 Patriots hold the single-season record with 589 points. 2011 Packers are second with 560 points. The Chicago Bears own the record for most seasons leading the league in scoring. They’ve led the NFL in scoring 10 seasons, although they haven’t led since 1956.

how many times has Aaron Rodgers thrown for 4+ TD passes in consecutive games. -- @AHein31
Only once has Rodgers thrown 4+ TD passes in consecutive games. Last season, Rodgers threw 4 at San Diego in week 9 and 4 more in Week 10 against the Vikings.

What NFL defensive lineman has the most interceptions? -- @dkotchen
Ron McDole (1961-78) had 12 career interceptions. Among active players, Julius Peppers has the most interceptions among defensive linemen with 8.

Kirby Lee/US PresswireMarshawn Lynch (right) finished with 123 yards against defensive fronts of eight or more, including 51 yards after contact.
It was a game the Philadelphia Eagles had to have. Instead, they allowed a season-high in rush yards (174) as the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch continually knocked them backwards en route to a 31-14 Seattle win.

Not that Philadelphia didn’t try to stop him.

The Eagles kept eight or more defenders in the box on 17 of Lynch’s 22 attempts, but to no avail. Lynch finished with 123 yards against defensive fronts of eight or more, including 51 yards after contact.

Both of his touchdowns came against eight-man fronts.

Overall, Lynch ran 22 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-highest rushing total of his career. He’s now scored a touchdown in eight straight games.

It was Lynch's fourth 100-yard game of the season with all of them coming in his last five outings. It was also the third multi-touchdown game of his career.

He accumulated a season-best 75 yards after contact. Since Week 9, he has led the NFL in yards after contact.

The Eagles did get a strong performance out of their own backfield, courtesy of LeSean McCoy.

McCoy carried 17 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and had four catches for 49 yards with a score. It was the third time in his career (and second time this season) McCoy had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game.

But Vince Young threw a career-high four interceptions, one of which was returned 77 yards for a score by David Hawthorne. Three of Young’s interceptions came on throws of 15 or more yards downfield.

He now has eight interceptions this season on such passes, tied with the Redskins’ Rex Grossman for the NFL lead. Six of Young's eight downfield interceptions have been underthrown.

Overall, the Eagles turned it over four times; they lead the NFL with 29 turnovers. Philadelphia had 25 turnovers all of last season.

The Eagles have dropped two straight and four of their last five. At 4-8, they are assured of their fourth non-winning season in 13 years under Andy Reid.