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What We Learned: Seahawks can actually run the ball like they say

Chris Carson had more carries Sunday than any Seahawks RB since 2011. (AP)

Chris Carson carried the ball 32 times on Sunday, the most by any Seahawks player since Marshawn Lynch carried 32 times for 109 yards in a five-point home victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

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It’s an important reference point because significance of that 2011 game has never been fully recognized. That victory over the Ravens – and more importantly the role the ground game played in it – constituted a turning point in the Seahawks’ history under Pete Carroll. Let me explain.

The Seahawks were 2-6 entering that Week 10 game against a formidable Ravens team that would finish that season 12-4. Pete Carroll was 9-15 as Seahawks coach at that point, and while Lynch had that unforgettable playoff run against the Saints in 2010, he had rushed for more than 100 yards in a regular-season game only once prior to playing the Ravens.

Then he carried 32 times, seven of those rushes coming in the final 6 minutes when Seattle ran out the clock with four straight first downs to seal a five-point victory. Lynch also had an 8-yard catch for a critical first down in that final drive.

We’ll see if Carson’s 32 carries for 102 yards turns out to be an equally important moment this time around, but the statement Seattle made with its running game in Sunday’s win over Dallas kicks off our list of things we learned.

1. The Seahawks can actually do what they say.

They ran the ball on Sunday. They ran it early in the game with 18 carries in the first half compared to 20 pass attempts. They ran it often. And they finished with Carson carrying the ball 32 times, the most by any Seahawk in seven years. Now, I’m not ready to say that the Seahawks won because they ran, but it’s probably not a coincidence that Wilson wasn’t sacked until the third quarter in a game where the Seahawks followed through on the promise to run the ball.

2. The secondary is making the most of more opportunities.

The Seahawks intercepted 12 passes all of last season. Their secondary has seven in three games this year, including three by safety Earl Thomas, who has never intercepted more than five passes in any season. Teams are obviously testing the Seahawks’ secondary in a way they haven’t in years, which is understandable given the changes in Seattle’s personnel. But so far, so good, and if there’s a question in terms of Seattle’s defense, it’s about the pass rush, not the coverage.

3. Tyler Lockett might look like a bargain by the end of the year.

Plenty of people raised an eye about the size of his contract extension with three years and $31 million tacked onto the final year of his rookie deal. But three touchdowns in three games with the possibility of a higher salary cap this offseason raises the possibility that’s going to look like a bargain by the time free agency rolls around. Only two players in the league have more touchdown catches over the first three weeks, and Lockett is a big reason the Seahawks’ passing offense remained even partly functional with Doug Baldwin out the past two games.

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