Right from the start of Seattle's eventual 20-3 win over the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers this past Thursday night, Marshawn Lynch made his presence known.
The Seahawks running back touched the football on nine of his team's first 12 plays, picking up 38 yards rushing and capping Seattle's 61-yard opening drive with a 1-yard plunge for a touchdown, his second of the season and NFL-leading 50th rushing score since 2011.
"It's nice to see us run the football again and run it it with some authority," said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. "Marshawn Lynch had a really solid night tonight, and the guys up front did a good job too."
Lynch helped his team move the chains in different ways to start the game, carrying a Niners defender for five yards on his first carry, cutting back toward the middle of the field for a 17-yard spurt on his second, and going "Beast Mode" on five tough carries from inside San Francisco's 5-yard-line, an effort that ended with his 1-yard score.
When Carroll called Thursday's win over the 49ers a "really normal Seahawks night," a lot of what he was referring to had to do with No. 24. Lynch finished the game with a season-high 122 yards on 27 carries, good for a 4.5-yard average. It was his first 100-plus yard game of the year and his 25th for the Seahawks, moving past Curt Warner for second-most in franchise history behind Shaun Alexander (37). Behind Lynch and an offensive line that Carroll said has had its "best couple weeks" in the run game, Seattle controlled the football for 38:05 of the matchup's 60 minutes, effectively moving the football on the ground throughout.
"That's how we're supposed to finish these games," Carroll said.
Thursday wasn't the first time Lynch has found success against the Seahawks' Bay-Area rival. Including the playoffs, he's had eight games with 90-plus yards on the ground against the 49ers, including six contests with more than 100 yards to go along with 10 total touchdowns. When Lynch hits that 90-yard mark, Seattle is 6-2 against San Francisco, including six straight victories. And when Lynch gets going like he did this past week, it fuels Seattle's players on both sides of the ball.
"That is Seahawks football," said wide receiver Doug Baldwin. "We go with Marshawn. He leads the way. The style in which he runs, the style in which he leads in the huddle, that's what's important to us. That's what helps us get to where we want to be. We'll go as far as he takes us."
Added defensive end Michael Bennett, who had a career-high 3.5 sacks against the 49ers, "That's what makes him a great running back, because a lot of guys can get 100 yards, but they don't punish the team. He punishes the team."
Seattle ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards per game (137.8) before Thursday's win over the Niners and that was without a big game from its No. 1 running back. After missing Weeks 4 and 5 with a hamstring injury, "Beast Mode" appears to be back in a big way, and with the offensive line starting to show consistency in Tom Cable's zone-blocking scheme, it's a combination that bodes well for the Seahawks going forward.
"To have Marshawn Lynch running the ball as good as he did, he was extremely physical," said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. "The line did a great job, they were phenomenal, being tough all night. He had some really tough runs and he accelerated away from people tonight, so to see 2-4 run the ball the way he does, it's pretty cool to watch."