Prosise accounted for 153 yards of offense, including 66 on 17 carries, plus seven catches for 87 yards. It was just the salve needed for a Seahawks offense that stood 30th in the NFL with a paltry 77.7 rushing yards per game.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — All season, Pete Carroll has been waiting to unveil C.J. Prosise, only to watch him get slowed by one injury after another.
There was the hip-flexor issue during organized team activities. There was the hamstring pull in training camp. There was the wrist injury early in the regular season. It’s hard to unveil someone who’s tethered to the training room.
Oh, Prosise teased them in practice, and tantalized during a brief but dynamic stint in New Orleans two weeks ago. But the rookie’s full-blooded arrival kept getting delayed.
Circumstances finally allowed it Sunday night, and Prosise didn’t disappoint in a scintillating 31-24 Seahawks victory over the New England Patriots. He showed he could run for the tough yards inside, and fight for even more. He showed patience and burst. He showed that he could be a dynamic pass receiver, which was the secret sauce that made him so appealing coming out of Notre Dame as a converted wideout. And he proved that he could take a vicious hit, bounce up and be ready for the next play.
In other words, Prosise showed that the Seahawks’ maligned running game might have legs after all.
“We’ve been pumped up about him the whole time,” Carroll said.
And now, the Seahawks are genuinely pumped about a rushing attack that seemed woefully inadequate as recently as last Monday. That’s when they gained a mere 33 yards on the ground in a narrow win over Buffalo, with running backs Prosise and Christine Michael combining for just 10 yards on eight carries (9 yards on three carries for Prosise).
Carroll promised more of Prosise on Sunday, and kept his word. Prosise accounted for 153 yards of offense, including 66 on 17 carries, plus seven catches for 87 yards. It was just the salve needed for a Seahawks offense that stood 30th in the NFL with a paltry 77.7 rushing yards per game — a major comedown for a team built in the image of Marshawn Lynch.
They ran for 96 yards Sunday against the Patriots, not exactly a free-for-all, but Prosise was an all-purpose threat all night.
“Ever since we had a chance when we went into the draft, we wanted to get that guy, for exactly what you saw tonight,” Carroll said. “Johnny (general manager John Schneider) did a great job evaluating and figuring that thing out. We fell in love with him during the draft process, and then we just didn’t have him.”
But now they do, and suddenly the prospects for the Seahawks’ offense are rising. Not only did Prosise show he can make an impact, but Thomas Rawls finally might be back next week from his broken fibula, which has sidelined him the past seven games. In fact, Rawls has just 19 carries all season for 25 yards, a far cry from the 830 he gained last year (5.65 yards per attempt), including four games with more than 100 yards and one with more than 200.
Rawls was the rookie that jump-started the Seahawks last year when Lynch was hobbled. On Sunday it was Prosise, but the prospect of having both in tandem bodes well, especially with Russell Wilson coming off an accomplished game in which he passed for 348 yards, a regular-season career high.
As Wilson begins to move around with more vigor — and to avoid a rush Sunday he unveiled one vintage spin move that had been locked away in storage — the entire offense will open up commensurately. The pressure on a developing offensive line will be eased as well.
Michael has been the bulwark of the running game most of the season but was limited to 22 yards on five carries Sunday. Michael’s usage figures to keep taking a hit with Rawls’ return and Prosise’s emergence.
But Prosise needs to show that he can expand upon what he did Sunday. The Seahawks could have blown the game open had they converted several scoring opportunities into touchdowns, instead of four field goals, and he had a role in that.
“I know C.J. would say this himself, but it’s just one game,” Wilson said. “He played great. He played an unbelievable game. I thought he was lights out all night. And so now we just want to continue to be consistent, continue to come back, continue to fight and continue to prepare at a high level.”
Two plays framed Prosise’s breakout game. In the first quarter, he caught an 18-yard pass near the sideline and bulled into a Patriots defender in search of more yards, instead of stepping out of bounds. And in the fourth quarter, he held onto a 38-yard pass from Wilson despite absorbing a vicious hit as he hauled it in. That brought the ball to New England’s 2-yard line.
Both plays fired up the Seahawks players and coaches on the sideline. That’s precisely how a rookie acquires respect.
“He sought contact, and it lit up our sidelines,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “To see a guy do that who’s been struggling with injuries, he shows his dedication to teammates when he does stuff like that.”
Prosise averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and was stymied on two carries after his great catch brought the ball to the 2. So there’s room for growth. But Prosise is saying and doing the right things.
“I’m going to go out and do my job, do what they tell me to do,” he said. “If it’s blocking, like last week, I’m going to block. This week, they had me out making plays in the pass game and also running the ball.
“We want to be a run-first, bloody team, and that’s what we haven’t’ been the last couple of weeks,” he added. “We finally got back to that this week and ran it hard and ran it downhill at people.’’
The Seahawks hope that with Prosise entering the fray, that’s the bloody truth.