After undergoing an offseason plan predicated on rejuvenating a dormant rushing attack, the Seattle Seahawks failed to muster much of a run game in two season-opening losses.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer promised he'd do a better job this week after abandoning the run early the past two weeks and backed up the talk by feeding starting running back Chris Carson with a career-high 32 carries as the Seahawks snagged a physical 24-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Head coach Pete Carroll has preached the importance of running the ball throughout training camp and the preseason, but the Seahawks only gave Carson 13 carries in Week 1 and 2 defeats. Unable to sustain drives with third-down conversions and put points on the board, the team fell into an undesired 0-2 hole.
Battling through adversity, Sunday's performance resembled the type of offense Seattle envisioned it would have entering the season.
"We've been trying to get to our formula and we just didn't get started well the first couple of games." Carroll said in his postgame press conference. "This is how we want to play and we couldn't be anything more specific about it. We want to run the ball, we want to play defense, and use the kicking game as much as we can to control the field."
On a day where Seattle's defense swarmed Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and forced three turnovers, including a remarkable forced fumble by safety Bradley McDougald as he punched the football away from running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Seahawks checked off all three boxes to finally get into the win column.
Handing it off to him early and frequently, Carson became the first Seahawks rusher to eclipse the 100-yard mark since Thomas Rawls did in the 2016 NFC wild-card round, providing the Seahawks with the balanced offensive attack they have been missing the last couple of seasons.
Admitting he hadn't carried the football 32 times since college or high school, Carson said, "I'll feel more of it tomorrow morning ... but right now, I feel pretty good."
With pressure taken off Russell Wilson as a result of Carson's heroic performance, the franchise quarterback was only sacked twice by a Cowboys defense that entered the game ranked second in the NFL in that category.
Far more comfortable in the pocket with Carson and the run game doing its part, Wilson hit his stride in the second quarter, throwing touchdown passes to Jaron Brown and Tyler Lockett to help the Seahawks build a 17-3 halftime lead. For the afternoon, he completed 16-of-26 passes for 192 yards and posted a 109.8 quarterback rating.
Most importantly, Wilson didn't throw an interception after uncorking three of them against the Broncos and Bears.
"The first two weeks, we were so off schedule," Wilson said in regard to the run game factoring into Seattle's offensive success. "We stayed on schedule and that gives us a tremendous chance to do what we want to do."
Though Carson only averaged 3.3 yards per carry on the afternoon and got stuffed multiple times, the battering ram wore down the Cowboys defense as the game dragged on. He played the role of closer late, picking up a back-breaking first down on a draw to convert a third-and-11 opportunity late in the fourth quarter to finish off the opposition.
Carroll applauded the play of his offensive line creating running room for Carson and protecting Wilson against a stout front four, but he knows his team will need to show it can replicate this success next week or it will be a moot point.
Regardless, the Seahawks found their identity again, and with a winnable road game coming up in Arizona next weekend, Carroll's squad has a chance to quickly swing back to .500 and crawl back into the playoff hunt early.