They needed someone to clear the way for a sputtering run game.
And the Seattle Seahawks got their man when fullback Michael Robinson returned to the starting lineup against Carolina last week, after missing five games with a hamstring injury.
The Seahawks used Robinson often, with the Penn State product leading the way for running back Marshawn Lynch on 16 of his 21 carries. Lynch finished with 83 yards and three touchdowns.
“I just think it was a war of attrition,” Robinson said about the second-half rally against the Panthers. “We just kept doing what we do, and eventually they said, ‘No mas.’ It was more of that than the holes getting bigger or anything like that because we ran the same plays. And they were the same plays we ran in the first half. It was just more of we kept doing what we do.”
Added Lynch: “It’s good for me and him to see the same thing and be on the same page, and able to make adjustments. So it’s pretty good to have him back.”
Robinson provided a spark for Seattle’s run game, which averaged a league-low 77 yards a contest heading into last week’s game against the Panthers.
“No one wanted to say it, but (if) you don’t have a fullback on your roster, it makes it a little harder, especially in short yardage and goal-line situations,” Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “Having (Robinson) back is huge. I think it definitely showed up last week.”
The Seahawks struggled running the ball in goal line situations this season, but punched it in twice from a yard out last week. Robinson said he asked coach Pete Carroll to run the ball when they got near the goal line.
“That’s what we’re here for,” he said. “We’re here to run the ball. And when it’s third and 1 or third and short, what faster way to get to the end zone than to hand us the ball?”
Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said the return of Robinson allowed the Seahawks to run more two-back sets. Seattle had been using tight end John Carlson as a lead blocker at times, and running more two, tight end sets with Robinson out.
“He plays with a lot of intensity,” Bates said. “You can tell we really missed him and he did some special things so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do this week also, playing his former team.”
The Seahawks travel to San Francisco on Sunday, where Robinson began his career five years ago. But Robinson says it’s just another game for him, and that he’s more concerned with having a shot at making the playoffs for the first time.
“Obviously there’s a little emotional attachment there because I was there for so long, and had some good years there,” Robinson said.