RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Competition is such a central theme of everything Pete Carroll does with the Seattle Seahawks that he gave a rookie seventh-round pick a chance to start at left guard in the NFC playoffs.
Michael Bowie responded to the challenge admirably.
Moving Bowie into the starting lineup was a surprise decision going into Seattle's NFC divisional playoff game against New Orleans on Saturday. He played every snap as part of an offensive line that led the Seahawks to a 23-15 victory in their best game running the football since Week 10 thanks to 140 yards rushing from Marshawn Lynch.
Seattle finished with 174 yards rushing against the Saints.
"Really it was competition. Mike had done a lot of good things," Carroll said. "We think he's a fine athlete, he's shown poise and smarts and all that in the nine starts that he had, with the two weeks. So we said, 'Let's give him a shot and take a look at it.' So we started in the bye week and carried it through and he did a nice job."
Getting a start in the playoffs was another notch in an unlikely rookie season for Bowie. Taken with the Seahawks' final choice in the April draft, Bowie went from roster long shot to an invaluable option on Seattle's offensive line.
He fell in the draft because he left Oklahoma State after his junior season and spent his final college season at Division II Northeastern State. But Seattle took a late-round flyer on Bowie and may have found a gem with the versatility to play multiple positions.
The Seahawks used numerous players at left guard this season because of injuries. Paul McQuistan began the year there, but was moved to left tackle after Week 2 when Russell Okung went down with a toe injury. Between Weeks 3 and 10, former first-round pick James Carpenter started at the position. When Okung returned, McQuistan moved back to left guard and split time with Carpenter.