SEATTLE — What impresses Marshawn Lynch isn't his streak of nine straight games with a touchdown or yet another 100-yard performance.
It's that the Seattle Seahawks' offensive line hasn't missed a beat despite season-ending injuries to three starters over the last month.
"I see those guys come in every week and they strain, they put it upon themselves to make sure they know what they've got going on and what they need to be doing," Lynch said after running for 115 yards and a 16-yard touchdown in the closing minutes of the Seahawks 30-13 win over St. Louis on Monday night.
Lynch topped 100 yards rushing for the fifth time in the last six games and Seattle (6-7) kept its slim playoff hopes alive by winning for the 13th time in its last 14 against the struggling Rams (2-11).
With Russell Okung lost to a torn pectoral muscle after a Thursday night victory over Philadelphia last week, the depth of the offense line was again put to the test against the Rams. Paul McQuistan moved from right guard to left tackle and Lemuel Jeanpierre stepped in at right guard.
Yet all Seattle did was post its sixth straight game with 100-plus yards rushing as a team. It's the first time since 1996 that Seattle has posted six straight 100-yard efforts — a stretch that's included Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander in the Seahawks' backfield.
The Seahawks have stretched their line depth to the limit. They've been able to fill holes so far with players that have been with Seattle all season long, working the same system day in and day out. The luxury of that depth is now gone and the team is counting on the line to continue its production despite the attrition.
"We got new guys coming in and that's not really an excuse," center Max Unger said. "You've got to have the same guys step up that have been together for a while now. It's coming together."
Lynch didn't get the spotlight all to himself. Undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin had the best game of his young career with seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, and three huge special teams plays in the first five minutes.
Baldwin's influence on the game was evident from the start, when he took a pitch from Leon Washington on a kickoff reverse and returned it beyond the 40. Seattle was later forced to punt, but it was Baldwin racing from the outside to down the ball at the Rams 6.
Then came his biggest special teams contribution.
Coming almost entirely untouched off the right end, Baldwin blocked a punt off the foot of Donnie Jones. The bounding ball hopped up into the arms of Michael Robinson, who went 17 yards to give the Seahawks an early 7-0 lead.
"As far as my expectations go, I expected to be successful. I didn't know how successful, but I expected to be able to come in here and win a job in some capacity, because if you don't have that confidence in yourself you're not going to win a job," Baldwin said.