From pregame introductions to the first time he entered the game to a stadium-shaking touchdown run that led to the first Skittles shower at CenturyLink Field in four years, Marshawn Lynch felt the love throughout his first game back with the Seahawks.
Unfortunately for Lynch and the Seahawks, his improbable return to Seattle finished about an inch short of a storybook finish, with the Seahawks losing 26-21 to the 49ers when tight end Jacob Hollister was stopped just short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal reception. But even in a loss, Lynch's first game with the Seahawks since the 2015 season still provided some memorable moments for him, his team and the fans who came to love him during an impressive six-season run in Seattle from 2010-2015.
"It was pretty obvious," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the energy Lynch provided Sunday and during the week leading up to the game. "I thought the fans were incredible. You don't all know Marshawn, but you should all be really proud of the way he handled this. He handled it in extraordinary fashion. He has been all in, every aspect, everything that he could have done to get ready and to try to help this team. It could have gone numbers of different ways, it's such a unique, crazy situation that we put him in, but he handled it impeccably."
Lynch's final stat-line wasn't all that memorable—he rushed 12 times for 34 yards and a score—but he created a palpable buzz in the stadium every time he came onto the field, particularly when he ripped off runs of 8 and 15 yards on back-to-back carries on a third-quarter scoring drive, and most memorably when he leapt over the line for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"It felt good, but at the end of the day, I play to win," Lynch said.
Lynch, who noted that he went from "fresh off the couch" to playing against one of the NFL's top defenses, was impressed with the reception he received from Seahawks fans, and expressed his gratitude as only he could.
"Straight love, bruh, straight up," Lynch said. "Twelves can (explitive) with your boy though. They made your boy feel right at home. Some solid (stuff)."
Despite a limited role, Carroll was impressed by what he saw from Lynch considering it was the 33-year-old back's first game since October of last year.
"I thought he did incredible," Carroll said. "I thought he was incredible just to be out there. He played hard and tough, and he came out OK. There was a play during the week, the goal line play, the play he scored on, and we were not in pads on the day, and he looked like he was going to leap over the top, and I don't know if he heard me, but I said, 'don't tease me.' Because I've always wanted to see him go over the top. Sure enough, he had his chance and he did it. I was thrilled to see that happen. I thought that was a thrilling touchdown, a thrilling moment for everybody."
Added receiver Tyler Lockett, "He brought everything. He brings a lot of wisdom, a lot of excitement. You saw how the whole entire fanbase was excited, the players were excited. People met him for the first time and didn't know what he was like, and he came in and was an amazing teammate, an amazing person, gave advice, all that type of stuff. I was happy to see him out there running again. Nobody got to see him the whole year, so just being able to have a chance to get him going again, getting in his flow, it was amazing to see that."
Prior to the game, Lynch was one of three running backs introduced with the starting lineup along with rookie Travis Homer and Robert Turbin, another former Seahawk who re-signed during the week following season-ending injuries to Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise.
And it was fitting that Homer got to enjoy in that pregame ovation as well, because the sixth-round pick out of Miami had a very good game in his first NFL start.
In addition to carrying 10 times for a team-high 62 yards, Homer also caught five passes for 30 yards, with two of those catches allowing the Seahawks to convert on third down.
"He did great," Carroll said. "He played great tonight. He was so aggressive. What a tough kid he is. That's all he's ever shown us. He just did what he always does. I thought he looked great tonight."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.