Marshawn Lynch: ‘He really lived up to that Beast Mode’
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch showed he’s the engine of the offense against the Packers, prompting coach Pete Carroll, teammate Christine Michael and NFL analyst Marshall Faulk to marvel at his strength and will.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Right up until the moment he stepped onto the field for Seattle’s winning drive in overtime, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch stood on the sideline talking to fellow running back Christine Michael.
Lynch stood inches from Michael’s face, and he pointed his finger at Michael’s chest, at his heart, while he spoke for close to a minute. And then, with his message delivered, Lynch assumed his usual place in Seattle’s backfield for the biggest drive of the season.
“That’s my blood brother,” Michael said. “That’s my guy. That’s between me and him, but he told me the realest thing he’s ever told me. That’s going to always be in my heart when I play this game. That dude, that’s one guy I know who can turn it on whenever he decides to turn it on. And he really lived up to that Beast Mode name.”
Lynch had the type of performance that has become his calling card in Seattle, and it is a reflection of his consistency that on a day when he rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown he was largely a footnote.
“I didn’t even know he had that many yards until I came in here after the game,” offensive lineman Alvin Bailey said, “but you know what you’re going to get with Marshawn.”
Every collision with Lynch is an act of combustion, and it looked like the Packers were trying to tackle a refrigerator. When the offense had little going right, Lynch’s rugged runs gave the Seahawks a pulse, and he rushed for 120 of his yards in the second half.
In the fourth quarter, Lynch took a handoff, stiff-armed a defensive lineman, broke the run for 13 yards and finished it by lowering his head into safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with a 240-pound linebacker clinging to his legs. Lynch hit Clinton-Dix so hard that the Packers’ safety got up, adjusted his face mask and shook his head.
“I’ve never seen a man run so hard with so much passion,” former NFL running back Marshall Faulk said on NFL Network. “They were behind the whole game — normally you run like that when you’re ahead.”
Two plays later, on third-and-six, Lynch broke another lineman’s tackle and drove five Packers an extra 6 yards while his offensive line pushed the pile from behind.
On that run, coach Pete Carroll noticed while watching film that guard J.R. Sweezy was on the ground, and then Sweezy saw Lynch stand up the five Green Bay defenders. So Sweezy hopped up, sprinted forward and helped push Lynch an extra couple yards. What’s lost in the scrum is that there are few running backs in the NFL who could stay on their feet long enough with five defenders pulling on them.
“It’s our guys taking advantage of his special qualities,” Carroll said.
Lynch broke 15 tackles against the Packers, according to the analytics site Pro Football Focus, the most in a playoff game since the site started tracking such things in 2007. Lynch also has the second- and third-most missed tackles in playoff games.
“He was able to take advantage of space — and sometimes no space,” Carroll said. “Somebody had a stat — I don’t know these numbers — but yards after first contact in this game was really high. No kidding, look at the film. He just would not go down.”
Receiver Jermaine Kearse pointed to the attention Lynch received as the dominant factor that allowed him to make his 35-yard winning touchdown catch in overtime.
“We had a run play, and you saw how many people were lined up in the box — the whole team minus me and the defender,” Kearse said. “That shows you the impact that he has on the game. Players respect him enough to put 10 guys in the box just to stop one player.”