RENTON – Fifteen seconds that shook Seattle.
Supposedly, a Qwest-quake caused seismometer needles to dance in the region Saturday afternoon at the moment Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch ripped a fault line through the New Orleans Saints defense and rumbled 67 yards into the nation’s consciousness.
It was called “17 Power.” For those unfamiliar with football terminology, the “power” is so old and reliable that some coaches call it “God’s Play.”
The ball was snapped with 3:37 left in the game, with the Seahawks leading 34-30, but the Saints, the defending Super Bowl champs easily could rally if they stopped Seattle on this drive.
The roots of this specific play, though, go back to October, when the Seahawks traded a fourth-round draft pick and conditional sixth-rounder to Buffalo for the 24-year-old Lynch.
Lynch had been known as a back with potential, some dubious off-field behavior, and a ton of gaudy jewelry – in his mouth.
“We bring a guy into the program that we think will give us a little boost,” Carroll said that day. “He’s got make-you-miss ability.”
Turned out, he’s got make-you-bleed ability, too.
On his first day with the team, he was asked about the full moon-werewolf alter ego – Beast Mode – that possesses him when he gets a football in his paws.
“It’s just a state of mind that I follow, that, basically, I won’t be denied, and I’m just relentless at what I do,” he said.
He certainly had not relented during the season, giving high effort with little result as the running game, behind a hobbled offensive line, was the second-worst in the National Football League.
But Saturday, when the Hawks needed to kill the clock, they called up the power run for the first time in the game.
By aligning tight end John Carlson to the left, bringing receiver Ben Obomanu in motion to that side, the Hawks stacked up manpower against the Saints. When right guard Mike Gibson pulled to the left, and with fullback Mike Robinson leading into the hole, the Hawks had seven men ahead of Lynch on that side of the ball.
The linemen blocked to the right, Obomanu kicked out the man on the end, and Robinson flattened the linebacker in the hole.
But the execution was flawed: Linebacker Scott Shanle scrapped off and had an unblocked shot at Lynch right at the line of scrimmage.
“Their linebacker fit the run up perfectly and hit him right in the chops,” Carroll said. “It was a flush nose-to-nose tackle and he broke the tackle.”
Lynch got lower than Shanle and popped him hard with his left shoulder.
Still, it would have died there if Carlson and Gibson hadn’t kept driving their men and cleared space for Lynch to power up again. Will Smith and Sedrick Ellis – 600 pounds of Saints – then failed to knock him off stride with diving attempts.
About 10 yards downfield, two more Saints grabbed at his legs in futility, and cornerback Jabari Greer tried to strip the ball, and then slipped off Lynch as if he were wearing a Teflon uniform.
Lynch got Beast Mode cranked up all the way by the time cornerback Tracy Porter came at him. Porter made contact at about the 38, and Lynch nailed him with a left-arm jackhammer that knocked him all the way, officially, to the 31 (unofficially, into next week).
After dispatching Porter, an unexpected convoy of hustling Hawks had raced downfield to Lynch’s aid, with 300-pound guard Tyler Polumbus closing in on safety Roman Harper, who suddenly lost his enthusiasm for making a tackle.
Behind Lynch, tackle Sean Locklear and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had chugged 60 yards downfield trying to get in people’s way Hasselbeck even shoving defensive end Alex Brown with his cast-covered left arm.
“I think I stopped five times during that play (thinking), ‘Oh, it’s over no, it’s not over it’s over it’s not over.’ ” Hasselbeck said. “And then it was just sheer adrenaline, excitement and it was just crazy; I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The count varies, but Lynch appeared to run over or elude eight or nine Saints, but they’re still counting.
By the time the clock hit 3:22 (or was that the Richter reading?), Beast Mode took flight, leaping into the end zone. We’ve heard tales of those in the throes of such demonic possession sometimes gesturing crudely or speaking in tongues. Whatever the forces involved, Lynch had a hard time articulating much about the run after the game.
Some already have called it the greatest run in playoff history, especially when one considers the pressure of the moment.
The Seahawks, after all, did not want to become the first 7-9 team to lose a home playoff game.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com