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Lynch gets another big stage tonight vs. Rams

SEATTLE (AP) — It took a national television audience, a couple of electric touchdown runs and the second-best game of Marshawn Lynch’s career for his fascination with a certain fruit-flavored candy to get attention.

Truth is, ever since he was a kid, Lynch had been rewarded for touchdowns with candy, his favorite being Skittles.

“Any kind of candy really,” Lynch said.

And if his performance over the last month keeps up during the final four weeks, he could be looking at a different type of reward in the offseason.

Dollars, lots of them.

Lynch gets another national stage tonight when the Seahawks (5-7) host the St. Louis Rams (2-10). Two recent appearances on national TV made quite an impact, from his astonishing 67-yard TD run in the NFC playoffs last year against New Orleans to his 15-yard escape for a score last week against Philadelphia.

It’s all adding up to potential big pay day for Lynch, who is quickly becoming the face of the Seahawks.

Lynch will be a free agent after the season. After a rocky beginning to his career in Buffalo that featured spotty on-field success coupled with off-field issues, Lynch has been a model citizen in Seattle, reunited with Justin Forsett, his old college buddy at California. His success running the football has taken off in the last month after a slow start with the Seahawks.

“It’s fun to watch after putting in so much hard work to start to see it pay off,” Lynch said. “The guys are ready to work a little bit harder to see if we can get it better.”

The zone blocking scheme that assistant head coach Tom Cable implemented during the shortened offseason took time to take hold, but is working now. The success, coupled with Lynch finding comfort and promise in the Pacific Northwest, has raised the question whether he wants this place to be his home beyond the 2011 season.

“I believe he wants to be right here. No one ever wants to leave a place, especially when you’re doing well,” Forsett said. “We’ve built chemistry here. A lot of guys, the O-line, everyone loves him and respects him here. So (it) definitely feels like he wants to be here.”

With Seattle making a recommitment to the ground game around midseason, the Seahawks are working on five straight games with at least 100 yards rushing. It might not seem like an impressive accomplishment, but it’s only been done twice in the same regular season by the Seahawks in the past 15 years. Seattle hasn’t made it six straight of 100 yards or more since 1996 — a stretch that’s included Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander in the Seahawks backfield.

Lynch is the recipient of this attention. He topped 100 yards himself in four of those five games, with the one time he was held under the century mark coming against the Rams, when he finished with 88 yards. Lynch has 128 carries in the past five games, after getting 74 in the first six.

“His energy, his intensity is obviously a big help. I think he, like the group has learned the system and his discipline has brought him to a point where he can succeed in it,” Cable said.

The challenge for the Seahawks this week is overcoming another massive loss on an already depleted offensive line with left tackle Russell Okung going down for the season with a torn pectoral late in the win over Philadelphia. Paul McQuistan, already filling in at right guard for rookie John Moffitt, will slide over to left tackle and Lemuel Jeanpierre takes over a guard against a Rams defense that ranks last in the NFL at stopping the run and gave up 412 yards rushing the last two weeks to Arizona and San Francisco.

“No disrespect to anybody else on that offense but I do think Marshawn is kind of that X-factor and they’ve built around him and they’ve kind of decided to settle into a certain scheme with him - a zone scheme - and he does a good job with it,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said.

The Rams’ muddled mess of a season continued with questions about who will start at quarterback. A.J. Feeley ruled himself out with a broken right thumb. Sam Bradford spent more time in the recovery pool than on the practice field as the Rams try and nurse his high left ankle sprain to the point where he could play tonight. Bradford was very limited in practice Saturday.

That could leave Tom Brandstater making his first NFL start after taking the majority of reps this week in practice.

Whoever the Rams start, they won’t need to do much to improve on their offensive woes last week in a 26-0 loss at San Francisco. The Rams had 157 yards and 10 first downs — including zero rushing — in the loss. It was the third time this year the Rams, with the worst statistical offense in the NFL, were held under 200 yards, including the 185 they managed less than a month ago in their home loss to the Seahawks.

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