The Seattle Seahawks took care of business on Sunday afternoon, defeating the lowly Houston Texans by a dominating final score of 33-13. Seattle's rushing attack did the heavy lifting offensively, as fourth-year running back Rashaad Penny rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts. It represented a career-high in rushing yards for Penny, who also secured the second multi-touchdown performance of his career. Sunday also marked just the third time Penny has crossed 100 rushing yards in a single contest since turning pro.
Penny was the recipient of new-found opportunities given the injury to Adrian Peterson, who earned the start in Seattle's backfield in a Week 13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. It was a monumental day for Penny, who has unfortunately been largely regarded as one of the bigger first-round busts in recent memory. We don't envision him being able to carry over this positive performance into the coming weeks due to a variety of reasons, some of which are outside his control.
Firstly, the performance of the opponent is worth analyzing. Penny dominated a 32nd-ranked Texans run defense that is now allowing opponents to rush for an astounding 147.9 yards per contest. Seattle's ability to take advantage of the league's worst rushing attack is an outcome that requires a dash of reality, until further notice. Seattle's offensive line has failed to consistently generate rushing lanes for their ball-carriers to attack all throughout 2021. It's one of the main reasons why they rank near the bottom of the league in overall rushing efficiency. Even when taking Sunday's impressive showing into account, which boosted their numbers significantly, Seattle still possesses the 22nd-ranked rushing attack, averaging just 104.4 yards per game.
One-off statistical outliers have also unfortunately been the norm throughout Penny's uneven career. Sunday's performance was rather reminiscent of a 2019 showing against the Philadelphia Eagles that saw Penny rush for 129 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. The former San Diego State standout failed to cross 100 rushing yards in another game that season. As a rookie in 2018, Penny rushed for 108 yards on 12 attempts against the Los Angeles Rams in a thrilling contest. His second-highest total of that season? Just 65 yards against the San Francisco 49ers. Penny will undeniably hope to build upon Sunday's extraordinary showing, but history indicates the opposite will occur.
Pete Carroll's Seahawks have reigned victorious in two consecutive contests. Witnessing Penny's ability to finally put their rushing attack on his back was surely a welcome sign for Carroll and general manager John Schneider, who has received a ton of criticism for his usage of first-round picks throughout the years. Seattle must run the table to create even the faintest of hopes of qualifying for the playoffs. The chances of that occurring are about as slim as Penny suddenly developing into the bellcow ball-carrier they hoped he'd become.