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Originally published November 9, 2014 at 8:25 PM | Page modified November 10, 2014 at 1:25 AM

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Marshawn Lynch’s beastly effort shows Seahawks they have a tough decision to make

Seahawks Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards and a career-best 4 touchdowns, willing his team to victory and showing his teammates again how important he is to Seattle’s hopes to repeat.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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This notion of the Seahawks feeding off Marshawn Lynch’s energy and desire is an old story line, a familiar talking point.

And yet, somehow, it’s still a unique marvel to see it in action anew. The sheer, unadulterated effort Lynch gives on every inch of every run, game after game, year after year, is the galvanizing gift that keeps on giving for the Seahawks.

“It’s always going to be fresh and new,’’ Earl Thomas said after another vintage performance by Lynch on Sunday. “You can’t take stuff like that for granted. That guy is special. I don’t care what people say about him, that guy is special. We’re very fortunate to have him.”

Thomas, of course, was alluding to the swirl of intrigue and innuendo that always surrounds Lynch. But all that dissipates when Lynch is churning for yardage, moving the pile forward by sheer force of will.

There’s a simple cause-and-effect between Lynch’s dirty work and Seattle’s success. They are 25-5 when he carries the ball at least 20 times, a number he exceeded by one Sunday. The Seahawks set a franchise record with 350 rushing yards, but Lynch set the tone, not to mention the treble and bass.

“Today we rode his back, and he delivered us to the promised land,” Richard Sherman said.

It’s a ride Lynch has made routine. In those times, as in his magnificent 140-yard, four-touchdown effort in Seattle’s 38-17 victory over the Giants, Lynch is not a distraction or an irritant or a loose cannon. He is nothing less than the high-performance engine driving a team that is aiming for a return trip to the Super Bowl. He is, in a word, essential.

In fact, it is virtually impossible to imagine the Seahawks getting there without Lynch, which brings a certain poignancy and power to his much-discussed contract status.

It has been presented, in some quarters, as a virtual fait accompli that Lynch won’t be back here next year for reasons of contract, age and an act that many perceive as wearing thin.

And yet Lynch’s value to Seattle is so profound, as manifested again Sunday in the way he jump-started the Seahawks when they couldn’t shake the Giants, that it should give management pause. It’s certainly not a world Thomas wants to imagine.

“I would love to play with Marshawn as long as he wants to play football,’’ he said. “I never want him to leave, especially when I’m playing. It’s hard to replace guys like that. They don’t come around very often.

“Just seeing it from my lens and my eyes, him running like that, running like he’s in Pop Warner, running over guys, fighting for every yard for his teammates, you can’t do nothing but respect a guy like that.’’

Thomas, in fact, was just getting started, his verbal momentum growing like Lynch as he bounces off and churns through defenders.

“Marshawn is a beast,’’ he said. “I love when he runs the ball. That’s energy we feed off on defense and on offense. When you have special players like that that are full of greatness, even though you don’t understand that guy, you’ve got to give him the ball and let him do what he do. He’s a special talent.”

The reporters in the Seattle locker room couldn’t let that last comment pass. Thomas doesn’t understand Lynch?

“I’m not saying me, I’m just saying in general,’’ he said.

Lynch, of course, works hard to remain inscrutable. He did not make himself available to the media after the game, a typical occurrence. Yet he is most eloquent with the ball in his hand, and a defender in his path, when he lets his battering do the talking. At those times, his teammates hear him loud and clear.

“He’s having an MVP performance,’’ Russell Wilson said.

“Anytime he touches the ball, something magical happens, and he did it again today,’’ Doug Baldwin added.

“He’s our backbone, man,’’ said offensive lineman Alvin Bailey.

Just as Lynch seems to gather strength and momentum as the game progresses, he also grows stronger during the course of a season. All 13 of his career rushing performances of 124 yards or more have come after Nov. 1, as have 20 of his 26 100-yard games.

“That’s a sign of a true competitor, a player with grit,’’ Baldwin said. “As the season goes on and progresses, they just get better and better. Obviously, he’s doing that right now.”

That trend carries over to Lynch’s NFL career. Most Seahawks players and coaches will tell you Lynch, at age 28, after all those hits that will supposedly slow him down, is playing better than he ever has.

“Each year he’s gotten better since I’ve been here,’’ said Robert Turbin. “That’s been pretty amazing to see, and to me, he’s the best running back in the NFL.”

Turbin, unsolicited, brought up the decision facing Seattle at the end of the season regarding Lynch. Turbin and Christine Michael loom as the heir apparents if Lynch departs. Michael had 71 yards and Turbin 32 Sunday as part of Seattle’s record-breaking rushing effort. Wilson contributed 107.

“C-Mike (Michael) and I understand the situation coming up at the end of this year ...’’ Turbin said. “It will be a huge deal. We’re definitely continuing to work hard and take our opportunities in the game when they come to show John (Schneider) and Pete (Carroll) we can get it done, too.”

But no one gets it done quite like Lynch. Every week he puts that unique charisma on display — along with the silent reminder of what a void his departure would leave.

Lynch’s late rampages
Marshawn Lynch’s big day continues a trend of finishing strong. He has rushed for 124 yards or more 13 times, all after Nov. 1, and 20 of his 26 100-yard games have come after that date.
Opponent and dateCarriesYardsTDs
Eagles (Dec. 1, 2011)221482
at Falcons (Nov. 10, 2013)241451
Giants (Nov. 9, 2014)211404
Saints (Jan. 11, 2014)281402
at Cowboys (Nov. 6, 2011)231351
49ers* (Nov. 30, 2008)161340
at Washington (Jan. 6, 2013)201321
Saints (Jan. 8, 2011)191311
Cardinals (Dec. 9, 2012)111283
at Jets* (Dec. 14, 2008)211270
Buccaneers (Nov. 3, 2013)211250
Vikings (Nov. 4, 2012)261241
Jets (Nov. 11, 2012)271241
*Played for Bills


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Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.
lstone@seattletimes.com

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