The star running back’s streak of 61 regular-season games played will end because of a hamstring injury suffered in last Sunday’s victory over the Chicago Bears.
On Sunday the looming question about the Seahawks’ game Monday night against Detroit at CenturyLink Field — Will Marshawn Lynch play? — was answered.
After Lynch had been listed all week as questionable and a game-time decision, the Seahawks announced the running back is out because of a hamstring injury suffered in last Sunday’s 26-0 victory over the Chicago Bears.
It will be the first missed game for Lynch since Oct. 23, 2011 at Cleveland when he sat out because of back spasms, and it will break a streak of 61 regular-season games played. That’s the only game Lynch has missed since being traded to Seattle in October 2010.
The next question — Can the Seahawks win without Lynch? — will be answered Monday night.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pondered that question earlier in the week.
“If he can’t play,’’ Carroll said. “We’ll find out. … How do you replace him? He’s a ridiculously good football player, he’s been a great factor for us forever it seems. We’ll just do the best we can. Guys have to step up.’’
Rookie Thomas Rawls seems set to get the start. He had 104 rushing yards against the Bears in his first significant action, 98 coming in the second half.
“Hopefully we get him in a good rhythm and let him get going again,’’ Carroll said Saturday of Rawls. “He was rumbling pretty good last week, and if we’re fortunate enough to see that kind of activity again this week we’ll be in good shape with him.’’
Fred Jackson, a 34-year-old nine-year veteran signed shortly before the regular season, also will see increased action, and fullback Derrick Coleman, who rushed for 1,840 yards at UCLA, could see some snaps at tailback.
Lynch isn’t the only injury issue for the Seahawks. They also on Sunday also ruled out defensive tackle Brandon Mebane because of a groin injury and listed linebacker Bruce Irvin as questionable because of an ankle injury apparently suffered during practice this week.
But Lynch’s absence looms as the most significant, especially for an offense that hopes to shake a developing trend of slow starts.
In starting 1-2, the Seahawks have been outscored 23-19 in the first half before rebounding to outscore foes 55-38 after halftime.
The numbers are just as stark when looking at yardage — the Seahawks are averaging 225.6 yards in the second half and 120.3 in the first half.
In 14 first-half possessions, the Seahawks have four field goals, nine punts and an interception, with the team’s only touchdown coming on Tyler Lockett’s 57-yard punt return in the opener at St. Louis.
Carroll often has said a game can’t be won in the first, second or third quarters but can be in the fourth. He also said this week he’d prefer not to be searching for a fix during halftime of each game.
“We’d like to be better at the start,’’ Carroll said. “We certainly would. We do know that that doesn’t determine what happens in the game unless you let it. How you finish is what’s important. We aren’t trying to not make yards and lull them to sleep. That’s not the approach.”
In this case, a slow start could awaken the slumbering Lions.
Detroit went 11-5 in 2014 but is 0-3 this year to rank as one of the NFL’s bigger disappointments in the NFL. The Lions are the only winless team remaining in the NFL after the Bears and Saints won on Sunday.
Last week, the Seahawks were not threatened by Chicago offense, which was without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and leading receiver Alshon Jeffrey. But Detroit features a formidable trio of quarterback Matthew Stafford and receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, a former Seahawk.
The Lions are good enough, certainly, to take advantage if the Seahawks offense again spends the first half sputtering.
“You’ve seen us adapt and play much better in the second halves of games,’’ Carroll said. “I think we’ve kind of always done that. But we don’t need to only do that. We can fix that a little bit earlier, so we’re working at it.”
They’ll have to do it Monday without Lynch, regarded as the driving force of the offense.
Lynch, who also has battled neck, calf and back injuries this season, has 128 yards on 38 carries, an average of 3.4 yards per attempt. He’s has not averaged fewer than 4.2 per carry in any season with the Seahawks.
Carroll said Saturday the team found some damage in Lynch’s hamstring during an MRI exam but hoped he could play. On Sunday, that hope was dashed. The Seahawks will hope now this game without Lynch goes better than the last one, a 6-3 loss to the Browns.