Originally published Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:35 PM

Steve Kelley

Marshawn Lynch brings 'Beast Mode' back in Seahawks victory

On this Sunday, he made the hardest, dirtiest, most important runs of this season. All afternoon, Lynch got the grudging yards.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Nothing was pretty about the work Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did on Sunday. He didn't break into the open field with dazzling jukes and spins. He didn't glide through holes, smooth as butter.

Lynch pounded. And he punched. And he punished. Over and over again, like an irresistible force, he moved the pile, even with three or four of the nastiest Baltimore Ravens yanking at the ball like, well, ravens fighting over a piece of meat.

Lynch took a hit to get a yard. He delivered a hit to get another couple of yards. He was in full "Beast Mode."

And on the final drive, after Baltimore had cut the Hawks' lead to 22-17 with 5:52 left, Marshawn Lynch, at the end of a long, tiring day, touched the football seven straight times and carried the Seahawks to their third win in nine games.

"Just ride Marshawn," quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said.

Lynch's lucky seven touches started on a first down at the Hawks' 49. Lynch ran off right guard for 4 yards, then left tackle for 1. On third-and-five, he caught a short pass from Jackson and shoulder-faked past Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson for 8 yards.

"Somebody gave him some Skittles," fullback Michael Robinson said of that play. "He had a little ahh, a little juice with it."

Lynch then ran off right tackle for 2 yards. He bulled up the middle, carrying Brandon McKinney and Bernard Pollard for 8 more yards and a first down.

"I got in there and pushed the pile," Lynch said. "Guard came back to me and said, 'I just felt you pushing me.' And I said, 'You were pulling me,' We just worked together and it was great."

Finally, Lynch ran 7 yards and then 5. And with a minute to go, and the Ravens out of timeouts and the ball at the Baltimore 16, he came to the sideline and was greeted with chest bumps and hugs.

"We were sitting on the bench thinking that we might have to go back in," cornerback Brandon Browner said. "But we didn't, because of the tough job he did. He's like a closer in baseball. That's exactly what he is."

In hockey, guys like Lynch are called "muckers." In baseball they're "gamers." In boxing they're "brawlers." Lynch is a combination of all of them.

On this Sunday, he made the hardest, dirtiest, most important runs of this season. All afternoon, Lynch got the grudging yards. His longest rush was a mere 8 yards.

"That's Marshawn, man. Nothing surprises me about that man," Robinson said. "The man even walks aggressively. Everything about him is moving forward and being aggressive and trying to gain yards. You gotta love that.

"They knew we were going to run it. Everybody in the stadium knew we were going to run it, and they knew who was getting the ball, and we were still able to move the ball forward."

After struggling at times in the first half of the season, Lynch is reading the zone-blocking schemes better. He's running with more discipline. He's putting the bite back in the Seahawks' offense.

"(Offensive line coach) Tom Cable has kind of been on him a little bit about the reads in the run game, and he's been disciplined lately and it's showing," Jackson said. "He did a great job today."

This is how the Seahawks were supposed to play this season. This was expected to be a run-first, physical offense. It's supposed to reflect Cable's belief that teams throw to score and run to win.

"That's the way we're built," tight end Zach Miller said. "And I think that's the way you win football games in the NFL. It's games like this where you need to run the ball to finish the game, and you get those wins and you control the clock and do the best you can to keep the ball away from the other team."

Against the Ravens, Lynch ran 56 times for 190 yards. OK, that's an exaggeration. It only seemed like he touched the ball that many times and moved the pile for that many yards.

In reality, Lynch finished with 109 yards on 32 carries. He also was the Hawks' leading receiver with five catches for 58 yards. In the past two weeks against two of the best run defenses in the league — Dallas and Baltimore — Lynch has rushed for 244 yards.

"He's just a workhorse," Miller said. "He doesn't go down by the first guy. He's everything you want in a running back. A guy who's going to fight for that extra yard. He truly does it every time he touches the ball. He was hitting the holes, making the right cuts and running guys over. It's a great thing to see."

The Beast is back.

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Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation. | 206-464-2176


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