After the Seattle Seahawks sent a message to their opponent last week, Marshawn Lynch may want to do the same to his former team.
Lynch and the Seahawks try for their fifth victory in six games Sunday as they head to Toronto to face the Buffalo Bills, who appear bound to miss the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season.
Although the Bills' ground game has been strong thanks to C.J. Spiller's emergence, Lynch has turned into one of the league's most consistent backs since Buffalo traded him to Seattle for a pair of draft picks in October 2010. He ranks second to Adrian Peterson with a career-high 1,266 yards this season, and he needed only 11 carries to accumulate 128 yards and three touchdowns in last Sunday's 58-0 drubbing of Arizona.
"This is what we had hoped," coach Pete Carroll said. "We hoped that he would be a big-timer and we could make him fit in and feel comfortable and like his surroundings and really contribute in a big way. He has done everything. He's done everything we have asked of him."
The Bills chose Lynch 12th overall in the 2007 draft out of California and he surpassed 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, but he fell out of favor after some off-the-field problems and Buffalo only got a fourth- and a fifth-round pick for him.
Lynch chose not to talk to reporters about the reunion this week.
Along with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and a stout defense, Lynch is a major reason the Seahawks (8-5) currently own the NFC's top wild-card position, and they're feeling especially good after the NFL's third-largest shutout win since 1950.
Seattle set a franchise record for points and matched its second-highest takeaway total with eight.
The Seahawks are one victory away from clinching their first winning season since going 10-6 in 2007. Their surge prompted next week's game against San Francisco to be flexed to the Sunday night spot.
That could be a showdown for the NFC West lead, though it's seemingly one of the last things on Carroll's mind.
"Yeah, whatever, it's moved back a little bit," he said. "That's two weeks from now."
The lopsided margin against Arizona gave the Seahawks plenty of opportunities to run the ball, which they did 42 times for 284 yards - the fourth-most in team history. Seattle's 152.3 rushing yards per game rank fourth in the league, although the Bills are sixth at 141.2.
Wilson sat out the final 25 minutes last Sunday as he became the first rookie quarterback to start and win his first six home games since the 1970 merger.
"You're trying to get first downs and keep the football, with the sensitivity of the situation," Carroll said. "You know you're going to run the football like crazy, which was awesome and we love to do that."
The Seahawks haven't been nearly as good outside of Seattle, going 2-5, although they won their most recent road game in Chicago.
Preparing to play a game in Toronto for the fifth straight season, the Bills (5-8) haven't given up on their first postseason appearance since 1999 - the league's longest active drought - though they must win out and receive plenty of help.
Even after last week's 15-12 home defeat to St. Louis, general manager Buddy Nix said he has no intention of firing coach Chan Gailey, who has at least one year remaining on his contract. In his third season in Buffalo, Gailey is 15-30.
"Now, we don't have many wins to show for it at this point, but I believe we can get there," Gailey said. "And I have a great deal of confidence in the direction we're headed."
Gailey has been criticized for his perceived under-utilization of Spiller, but with Fred Jackson put on injured reserve Tuesday because of a sprained MCL, he may have little choice but to give the ball to Spiller more often.
Spiller has 944 yards on 144 carries - a 6.6-yard average, the NFL's highest through 13 games since Jim Brown in 1963. However, he's carried the ball fewer than 10 times in six of Buffalo's games, gaining 37 yards on seven attempts against the Rams.
Still, Spiller hasn't complained publicly and continues to support Gailey as the team's head coach.
"Those people who want him fired, they must not understand football," Spiller said. "He's my coach, and I've got his back."
Perhaps a higher dosage of Spiller can spark an offense averaging 19.5 points over its last four games.
"My style is I'll never go up there and beg, beg, beg for the ball," he told the team's official website. "I understand we've got a lot of playmakers out there. Everybody wants to have the ball in their hands and everybody wants to make that play. I'm not different, but I'm not going to sit around and mope week in and week out."
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will have another week on the field after his appeal hearing for his four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs was delayed. Sherman had a pair of interceptions last weekend.
However, fellow starting corner Walter Thurmond won't play after injuring his hamstring during practice Wednesday.
Either Byron Maxwell or rookie Jeremy Lane will start in place of Thurmond for the league's third-ranked defense, which allows 301.7 yards per game.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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