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Rawls, Seahawks romp past Panthers in costly victory

The former Bills star gained just 112 yards last season with the Saints. That was a letdown after coach Sean Payton spun loads of pretty poetry about Spiller after inking him to a free-agent deal before the 2015 season. The Saints, though, never found a true role for him, especially with Spiller suffering a handful of injuries.

The 29-year-old runner has never come close to matching his monster season of 2012, but the Seahawks do a good job with their backfield. They obviously see something they like in Spiller, but make no mistake about it: This should be — and will be — Michael’s backfield in 2016.

The Seahawks were searching for a general manager to replace Tim Ruskell, who’d resigned during the season, and Schneider, who’d spent a season as Seattle’s director of player personnel at the start of the decade, had been identified as one of the candidates. In preparation for his impending interview, scheduled to take place following the Packers’ first-round playoff game at Arizona two days later, he’d put together a large binder outlining his managerial plans and philosophy, including a sizeable section detailing his list of preferred head-coaching candidates, should an opening arise.

Then the television screen in Schneider’s office delivered some stunning news: The Seahawks had fired coach Jimmy Mora after a single 5-11 season — and the franchise was on the verge of landing USC’s Pete Carroll as his replacement. A lot of worlds were being rocked, including Schneider’s: With a high-profile (and soon-to-be highly compensated) coach like Carroll in the mix, this GM job could be far less meaty, and Schneider wasn’t sure he wanted to bite.

SEATTLE — The biggest issue the Seattle Seahawks had to address coming into this postseason was how they were going to advance without a reliable running game. The only question they faced after Saturday night’s 26-6 NFC wild-card win over Detroit was how far they might go with back in the mix. That’s how much Seattle changed in the course of one week. Just like that, the Seahawks were back to looking completely capable of wreaking havoc in the playoffs.

The major story of Saturday was Rawls, who set a team playoff record with 161 yards on 27 carries and scored a touchdown. He made life easier for quarterback . He proved that all the problems that have plagued the Seahawks offensive line this year might be resolving themselves faster than we knew. He also reminded us of what the Seahawks can do when their run game is gashing opponents.jersye

In a game in which Seattle could have, conceivably, pounded the Niners into submission via the run game, the Seahawks abandoned it quite early. We’re aware of San Francisco’s lack of talent almost across the board, and it’s understandable for the Seahawks to turn to the pass to win. But that strategy didn’t come against a unit that was staunch against the run; San Francisco has been atrocious against it, nearing historic levels of bad (165.9 yards per game allowed bad).

Seattle tried the ground game early and basketball jerseys cheap and found little to no success, running primarily out of the shotgun before being forced to turn to the pass thanks to an early deficit. The Seahawks shifted from running inside the tackles to utilizing frequent swing passes out of the backfield, attempting to play the perimeter to move the ball and hope to spread the defense out for future running success. The second part never really materialized.

The shame of this season is the inability of the Seahawks’ defense to stay healthy. There has been nary a game during which Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas have all been on the field at the same time for the whole 60 minutes. The return of Bennett on Sunday night was supposed to launch the Legion of Boom into playoff form, but those hopes were dashed when Thomas left the game in the second quarter with what appeared to be a season-ending leg injury. Carolina immediately exposed backup safety Steven Terrell on an ensuing 55-yard touchdown pass.

While the Seahawks secondary regained its composure in the second half, the absence of Thomas, often considered the quarterback of this Seattle defense, is a grave concern heading into the postseason with dynamic offenses like the Falcons, Cowboys and Redskins looming. Tweets sent out by Thomas suggesting he is considering retirement are even more alarming.

“We just took an ‘L’ on the chin,” said, via the Seattle Times. “There’s no other way to put it. We just got our behinds kicked, all around. Gave up points, turnovers, didn’t play well, special teams — just all around we got our butts kicked.” He held up a finger. “But, the good thing is we know how good we can be. We just have to be more consistent.”

It’s easier to keep a level head when, despite the loss, Seattle can clinch the NFC West with a win Thursday versus the Los Angeles Rams. The loss dropped the Seahawks from bye-positioning, but with an easier slate down the stretch than the Lions, Falcons, Bucs and Packers, Seattle is still sitting pretty to get one of the top two spots in the NFC.