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A burden of a Beast
In his short stay with the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch already has come full circle.
In October, he played his first game for the Seahawks – against the Bears in Chicago. Sunday, he will play his biggest game for the Seahawks – against the Bears in Chicago.
“I don’t really think about it that much, like that,” Lynch said Wednesday, as the Seahawks began preparing for their rematch against the Bears in a divisional playoff game at Soldier Field. “They’re just who’s next on the schedule.”
But the Bears are thinking about Lynch, a lot. So is the rest of the football nation, as he has gone from the near obscurity of “Yeah, I think he plays in Seattle now,” to the instant celebrity of “Yeah! He’s the dude that did that.”
Lynch’s scintillating, stadium-shaking 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to ice the Seahawks’ stunning upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field on Saturday has been played and replayed – and even modified to include the sound effects from the Super Mario video game – almost around the clock.
“My uncle, he’s watched it at least 200 times,” Lynch said. “And every time I talk to my mom, and I’m listening to her background, I hear the same thing over and over again.
“So seeing it and hearing it, it’s crazy.”
The best reaction Lynch has gotten to the run?
“I don’t think I could say that on camera,” he said with a smile. “But I’ve heard from people I haven’t heard from in years, and that’s probably where I got the craziest reactions from, as well.”
The reactions Lynch likes best are the ones he’s still getting from his teammates, because “I had a lot of help,” he said.
“There were about four or five blue jerseys in front of me. Matt (Hasselbeck) and Sean (Locklear) were right there behind me. So it was like they built a wall – kind of like a little force field – around me to make sure nobody took me down. I’m just thankful those guys were around me to help me get in there.”
At times, Lynch needed no help. He seemingly ran through some would-be tacklers, slipped from the grasp of others and used one mean stiff-arm to rock Saints cornerback Tracy Porter and deposit him on his backside.
When Lynch got to the sideline, one of the first teammates to greet him was fullback Michael Robinson.
“Mike was like, ‘Man, I was supposed to block that guy, but after I saw what you did I just turned around and tried to go get the next person I saw,’ ” Lynch said.
Lynch has dubbed his physical running style “Beast Mode,” and that run propelled his beastliness to the next dimension – setting off an eruptive celebration at Qwest Field that actually registered on a nearby Seismograph.
“It was one of those classic fourth-quarter runs,” Robinson said. “You could tell (the Saints) really didn’t want to hit him. All day, I was telling him, ‘Man, I don’t think they really want to hit you.’ Because they were just throwing their bodies into him and not wrapping up.
“So I said, ‘Dude, you’re going to break one of them later one.’ I didn’t think it was going to be that dramatic of a fashion. But Marshawn did one heckua job running with determination and will to seal the game for us.”
Ask any fan their favorite part of the run and you’ll get a variety of answers: The stiff-arm. The relentlessness of Lynch’s effort. The touchdown. The touchdown celebration in the end zone. The impact it had on the stunning upset.
Robinson was asked the most impressive aspect of the run from an insider’s view – or blocker’s view, in this case.
“The most impressive thing about the run to me was that he actually scored,” Robinson said. “A lot of times you see runs like that and he might stiff-arm the guy but then somebody comes and tackles him eventually.
“But the most impressive thing was that he actually scored. And Matt Hasselbeck was down the field. We had one our guards down the field, and one of our tackles running down the field. That’s impressive, to be 21 weeks into the season and to have guy still competing and to have guys still running down the field and finishing.”
Brian Urlacher, the Bears’ Pro Bowl middle linebacker, was less impressed. Asked in a conference-call interview Wednesday what he saw during the run, Urlacher offered, “A lot of misses tackles on that play.”
But again, Robinson had Lynch’s back.
“Marshawn is not a real easy guy to tackle, man,” he said. “So guys missing tackles on him doesn’t surprise be at all. I actually expect it.
“Again, Marshawn made a great run. It was great call in the perfect situation for it. They lined up to where we knew we were going to get something positive out of it. The will and the determination to score is probably one of the most impressive things about it.”
Still, Lynch expressed surprise over the reaction that the run has ignited.
“Actually, I am,” he said. “Because the position that we were in coming into that game, with no one thinking that we could win and then us really taking the game and winning the game, it seems like more people have been focusing on the run rather than the win.
“Which I feel is a lot bigger. Not to take anything away from the run, but the biggest highlight for me was that we won the game.”
It was, after all, the first playoff game of Lynch’s four-year NFL career. He played his first three seasons with the Buffalo Bills before being traded to the Seahawks in October.
“For my first game, it was everything that the veterans had told me – from my previous team to my teammates here,” Lynch said. “Just the whole experience leading up to the game, and then game day, it was just unbelievable. But a real great feeling, though.
“Especially for my first one, and for us to win and then win in the fashion that we did. I heard that we caused a little earthquake. That’s pretty big.”
What’s next? Marshawn Lynch doing a PSA for earthquake preparedness?
“I wouldn’t be any good at that,” Lynch said through a smile. “I’d just tell you what they tell you – get under a table or get in the doorway. Other than that, don’t be underneath something.”
So, it’s when the Beast shows up, take cover?
“When the Seahawks show up, take cover,” Lynch said. “That sounds a little better.”