To say that
Lynch didn’t so much shuffle out of Buffalo; it was more a welcomed escape on the dead run from a difficult situation to handle for a running back who thrives on having the ball in hands. The Bills might have drafted Lynch in 2007, with the 12th pick overall, but by the end of his 3¼-season stay in Buffalo, he had become close to an afterthought following the selection of C.J. Spiller in the first round of the 2010 draft to pair with Fred Jackson.
A Pro Bowl back with 1,036 yards and 250 carries in 2008, Lynch’s numbers in 13 games – and six starts – in 2009 were 120 for 450.
“He was looking to get out, I think,” as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it on Wednesday.
The Seahawks came to his rescue during their bye week in 2010 by trading for Lynch, and this week he’ll lead his new team against his former team when the Seahawks travel to Toronto to play the Bills in the Rogers Centre.
Lynch declined to discuss the situation. He’d rather let his actions speak for him, and there are others to do it, as well.
“We had him for a year. I know what a physical, tough runner he is,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said during a conference call interview. “And he’s quicker than people realize for his size. I’ve known all along that he’s a very good back and is capable of being very good.”
Lynch has been that and then some for the Seahawks:
He’s already rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards this season, which tops his 1,204 yards from last season.
He already has a career-high seven 100-yard rushing games, one more than he had last season – and three more than he had in his first three seasons with the Bills. Since Week 9 of last season, Lynch has 13 triple-digit efforts in 22 games.
He has run for seven touchdowns in the past six games, including three in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals to tie his career high from a game in 2010 against the Carolina Panthers.
Among his TD runs this season is a career-long 77-yarder against the Lions in Detroit and a 33-yarder in Sunday’s blowout of the Arizona Cardinals where he bounced outside, rather than having one would-be tackler after another bounce off him.
Since Week 9 of last season, Lynch has 2,207 rushing yards, tops in the NFL during that 22-game span by 339 yards over Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. This season, he is second in the league in rushing to Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Sunday, he had 128 rushing yards on only 11 carries, giving him a franchise-record 11.6-yard average – breaking the record that was held by running backs coach Sherman Smith since 1976 (8.7 in a game against the Atlanta Falcons).
The blowtorch of a candle atop his multilayered cake of a career with the Seahawks, of course, remains that 67-yard TD run in the 2010 wild-card playoff win over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints where he broke eight tackles and set off seismic activity near the stadium because of the crowd reaction.
Asked if Lynch’s on-going contributions have exceeded expectations, Carroll instead told the story of just how badly he wanted Lynch to fill such a big role – perhaps the biggest one – in the team he and GM John Schneider have been building since 2010.
“We went after him for a long time,” Carroll said. “I just kept bugging John and bugging John. I mean, it was eight or nine weeks. We had been on it through the offseason and all that. John probably called them back 10 times to get this done.
“My hopes were that he could be the lead, marquee back for you; that you would get an attitude guy as well as a big-play guy. So we went after him. There was a number of times when John would look at me and say, ‘Look, I just called them like last week.’ We were very persistent about it and finally the opportunity arose for us.”
Carroll’s persistence was worth every nagging moment.
“This is what we had hoped,” he said. “We had hoped he’d be a big-timer and that we could make him fit in and feel comfortable and like his surrounding and really contribute in a big way. Which he has done. He’s done everything we could ask of him.”
In Buffalo, Lynch has gone-but-not-forgotten status.
“That is my man,” Spiller said during a conference-call interview. “The first time he saw me he said, ‘You the fast dude? You the fast dude we got?’ He was great here. He worked hard. He taught me things about how defenses are going to try to play me, because coming in for my first rodeo (Jackson and Lynch) had played some of the teams that we were going to play. So both him and Fred gave me some inside scoop. He practiced hard, but at the same time he definitely kept our running back room very entertained.”
Obviously, some things never change.
“It just jumps off the tape,” fullback
“And just watching him run, he makes you want to strain; he makes you want to go harder. It’s a great symbol for what this team is trying to stand for.”
As Robinson was sitting in his cubicle in the locker room, Lynch was heckling him from across the room. Robinson laughed before adding, “His style always shows up week in and week out. It’s part of who he is. He’s doing a great job. I’m happy for him, honestly.”
The best part of all this? Lynch isn’t that fascinated by individual achievements or interested in personal statistics.
“I just want to win,” he has said a couple of times this season when asked about his own contributions.
So a win this Sunday against his former team – a team that gave up on him – would be sweeter than a family-sized bag of Skittles.