Scoring points on his scores

Posted Oct 6, 2011

When Marshawn Lynch runs for a touchdown, it's not just another score. The Seahawks' "Beast Mode" back celebrates the moment with spontaneous end-zone entries that ignite contagious excitement.

The question loomed before Marshawn Lynch like a wall of would-be tacklers: Can you describe how it feels to score a touchdown?

At first, there was a stare, followed by silence. Finally, Lynch uttered, “Umm. I actually can’t.”

But just like on so many runs this season where it seemed the Seahawks’ leading rusher would be stopped for a loss – of words, in this instance – Lynch saw a sliver of daylight.

“It’s points on the board. It’s a chance, an opportunity, to help us win,” Lynch said. “They’re hard to come by, most definitely.”

From a few cubicles down in the locker room, fellow running back Leon Washington gave Lynch a push in the right direction.

“I’m trying to think of the best word to use,” Washington said. “I guess I would say, ‘rejuvenated.’ Because you work so hard and then you score, and you can see all the effort and all the practice you put into it.

“So it’s rejuvenating.”

With Lynch, it’s not just that he scores, but what the team’s “Beast Mode” back does when he’s scoring.

After his electrifying 67-yard touchdown run to ice the Seahawks’ stunning playoff victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in January, Lynch did a backward leap into the end zone as the fans at Qwest Field (now CenturyLink Field) rocked the joint to the point where seismic activity was recorded in the area.

In Sunday’s two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field, Lynch found the end zone for the first time this season and his end-zone entry was a leaping somersault to slap an exclamation point on his 11-yard scoring run that pulled the Seahawks back into a game they once trailed 27-7.

Touchdown celebrations are nothing new, of course. Receivers Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and Koren Robinson used to mark their six-point excursions with something they called “the sprinkler.” When Shaun Alexander scored a then-NFL record 28 touchdowns in 2005, he used “theme” celebrations – like playing the football as if it was a fiddle when he scored TD No. 25 against the Titans in Nashville.

But Lynch celebrates as he’s entering the end zone.

“It’s just like the moment just kind of takes over, and you go from there,” Lynch said.

Told that those moments are memorable for the way he enters the end zone as much as the fact that he’s gotten into the end zone, Lynch smiled and laughed.

“I have fun looking that them, too,” he said.

So does Pete Carroll, apparently.

“I was thrilled how excited he was in the moment that was at hand right there,” the Seahawks coach said. “That was an emotional surge that happened in the stadium for our players.”

Carroll was referencing Lynch’s TD being the third step in a trio of events that marked the way the team needs to play more often – starting with Sunday’s game against the 3-1 Giants team at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

Before Lynch scored, the defense held the Falcons to a three-and-out possession that started from the Atlanta 5-yard line, forcing rookie Matt Bosher to punt from his own end zone. Washington then returned the punt 33 yards to the Falcons’ 11, and Lynch scored on the next snap – with a somersault that included a head-first landing.

“It was boom, boom, boom,” Washington said of the score going from 27-14 to 27-21 quicker than Steve Raible could offer, “Touchdown, Seahawks.”

“We got the crowd going, which got us going, which got the crowd going.”

As for the score – no, the way Lynch scored – Carroll offered, “The fact that he lost his mind there. I’ve never seen him practice that. I don’t like us doing things we don’t practice.”

Lynch would love to get more practice on his end-zone entries, especially if the highlight-reel dives and somersaults come in victories.

“I’d have a little better feeling if they came with a win,” he said.

Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of the trade with the Buffalo Bills that bought Lynch to Seattle. He then scored six touchdowns during the regular season, and five came in victories – three in a Week 13 win over the Carolina Panthers and one each in road wins at Chicago and Arizona. His lone score in a loss? Against the Falcons in Week 15.

Washington’s touchdowns last season, after being acquired in a draft-day trade with the New York Jets, were different because he returned three kickoffs for scores – two in a Week 3 upset of the San Diego Chargers at home and another in a December loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.

“A lot of times when I score, I’m always thinking it’s going to get called back (because of a penalty). I’m looking for a flag,” he said. “So the first thing I do after a run into the end zone is look back.”

Scoring at home is a completely different rush, because of the reaction of the 12th MAN crowd.

“We talk about it so much, just how much energy that we can draw from our fans,” Washington said. “So whenever you score or make a big play here, you can feel the energy translate to the whole team.”

Especially when that score comes with that Lynch-esque panache.

“You can tell how athletic he is, to be that big and do what he does,” Washington said. “You can tell he’s a guy that really enjoys the game. You can see it when he celebrates.”