This has not been a typical season for
Entering the Seahawks’ win-and-they-clinch-so-many-things game against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, the team’s Beast Mode back has run for 1,089 yards, a 4.2-yard average and 11 touchdowns. While those would be career numbers for most backs, Lynch is not most backs. In his first two full seasons with the Seahawks, Lynch compiled his career-best numbers: 1,590 yards and a 5.0-yard average last year; and 12 rushing TDs in 2011.
But this year, the Seahawks are 12-2 and a win Sunday will clinch the NFC West title, a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
And that’s why Lynch is smiling.
“I’m pleased with the production our whole team has been putting together,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of a team that has put up this many wins and had this bright of a future if we continue to stay on the path that we are on.
“So I’m just pleased to be on this team.”
|MARSHAWN LYNCH: RUSHING FOR VICTORIES|
Most of Marshawn Lynch’s statistics through 14 games this season don’t match his totals from last season at this time. But the one stat that matters most to Lynch – victories – definitely has improved. Here’s a look at his totals through 14 games in the past three seasons:
Note: Lynch missed the Week 7 game in 2011; 100 indicates 100-yard rushing performances
Lynch has been on a division championship team. But that was in 2010, when the Seahawks acquired him in a midseason trade with the Buffalo Bills. The Seahawks won the NFC West, but did it with a 7-9 record. Lynch has been on another playoff team, last season when the Seahawks went 11-5 and settled for a wild-card spot because the San Francisco 49ers finished 11-4-1. Lynch has been to Pro Bowls, in 2008 while with the Bills and the past two seasons with the Seahawks.
But for a player who compiles statistics with the consistency that Lynch does – and in the jaw-dropping way Lynch does it – personal achievements have never been his primary goal or focus. The dude just wants to win.
This was apparent from the first day he walked into Virginia Mason Athletic Center in early October in 2010. He would run for a lot of yards, several scores, or both, to help the Seahawks win a big game, but decline to talk after the game because he felt the focus should be on the team accomplishment. After a tough loss, however, there was Lynch shouldering more than his share of the blame.
That was early in his tenure with the Seahawks. Recently, Lynch has decided to simply let his on-field actions speak for him, but the winning-is-the-only-thing-that-matters attitude has not wavered.
“No. Not at all,” Lynch said when asked about stats being the fuel that stokes the rampaging runner that he becomes. “Like I said when I started playing ball, if I have zero yards in a win, I could take that. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”
That’s definitely what it’s been all about for the Seahawks over the past 22 games, when the Seahawks are 19-3 – 7-1 to close last season, then 12-2 this season.
And the Seahawks definitely wouldn’t have all those victories without Lynch, despite the play of the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense, the momentum-changing efforts of their No. 5-ranked special teams and the record-setting performance of second-year quarterback
It’s Lynch’s presence that has forced opponent after opponent to stack their defensive front in trying to contain him. But that only opens up other offensive avenues.
“If that’s their game plan, that leaves opportunities for other guys on this team to show up and show out,” Lynch said.
“No question, his presence opens up a lot of stuff,” said Sherman Smith, the Seahawks’ original running back who is now in his fourth season coaching the position on coach Pete Carroll’s staff. “You’ve got to be aware that we can run the football and we can throw it, so it gives us all the options that we can have. He’s got some of the best hands on the team. So when Marshawn is in the backfield, defenses have to know that we can run or throw the ball.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘Oh, we can tackle him.’ But that’s easier said than done. We can hand him the ball and not have it blocked well and he can still make stuff happen. So just having him in the backfield, everyone is aware of his presence.”
This week, Lynch will be running into the league’s No. 1-ranked rushing defense, as the Cardinals are allowing a league-best average of 83.2 rushing yards per game, as well as 3.6 yards per carry – second in the NFL to the New York Jets (3.2).
Lynch had 91 yards, a 4.3-yard average and a rushing TD in the Seahawks’ 34-22 victory over the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 7. Since then, while winning six of seven, the Cardinals have allowed only two teams to run for that many yards – the Philadelphia Eagles (105) and St. Louis Rams (100). The only back to run for more than 60 yards against the Cardinals in this stretch was the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, and the NFL’s leading rusher needed 19 carries to get his 79 yards.
Lynch is no stranger to Cardinals’ first-year coach Bruce Arians, who has been coaching against Lynch since he was in Buffalo and Arians was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When the laughter subsides, he added, “I love watching him play, because he loves to play football. … He’s a really good back. He loves to run the football. And he’s a good pass blocker; has good hands. He’s just an all-around good player and he’s fun to watch.
“You know that’s where it all starts. It starts right there up front with their offensive line and him, and we’ve got to get that stopped.”
Presented with his running-into-the-league’s-top-run-defense scenario, Lynch cracked a what-else-is-new smile.
“Every week you’ve got to bring your hard hat,” Lynch said. “So I approach every game the same.”