We received no reports of any Marshawn Lynch-triggered earthquakes around Seattle this time.
Although you would have a hard time convincing Philadelphia Eagles defenders of that, especially those who spent much of Thursday evening in futile pursuit of the Seahawks’ seismic running back.
The Seahawks took a 31-14 victory in their first exposure on the NFL Network. A national audience was treated to a display of furious rushing by Lynch, who picked up 148 yards, scored two touchdowns and provided further evidence that the Seahawks need to extend this man’s contract before he gets loose on the free-agent market.
“Marshawn was just a monster again,” coach Pete Carroll said. “For the attitude that just gives our whole football team, it really is infectious.”
At times, Lynch is a nasty mass of pumping knees, stiff arms and steely determination. How many yards does he get after contact? Dang near all of them.
But then he finds a crack and shows a surprising burst, and can unleash the kind of open-field move that can bring a linebacker to his knees.
Thursday, Lynch’s first touchdown seemed an impossible escape from inside a knot of Eagles. Hidden in the cluster, Lynch kept churning his feet and the line kept pushing. Somehow, Lynch dematerialized and reappeared outside of the scrum to score on the 15-yard run that left almost everyone on the field grasping for a description.
“I was at the back of the pile pushing and he just popped out; I couldn’t believe it,” center Max Unger said. “He fights for every yard, incredibly hard, and when you see effort like that, you can’t help but give everything you have, too. That was textbook of what we’re trying to do.”
The second-quarter score was a beautiful breakaway behind impermeable blocking. Speed was the mode of operation employed on this one, and he sprinted 40 yards untouched.
Lynch has now scored touchdowns in each of the past eight games he’s played (having missed Cleveland with a sore back).
“He makes our job easy sometimes,” guard Robert Gallery said. “He just needs a crack and he does so much on his own, breaking tackles, staying on his feet, he’s a great guy to block for.”
Lynch’s game has so much value beyond the obvious touchdowns and rushing yards, and sometimes you have to watch closely. Late in the first half, for instance, Golden Tate pulled in a pass and was detained but not tackled by several Eagles. More defenders were closing in on him when a flash of blue sprinted into the pile to knock them off Tate.
It was Lynch. He was nowhere near the play, but flew downfield to strike a blow for a teammate. Every player on the team will see that in the video study, and Lynch’s example makes lesser effort by anybody seem unacceptable.
“It’s a blessing having a guy like him on your team,” Tate said.
The attitude is contagious. “The whole team feels his energy, and we all feed off it,” Gallery said.
Lynch has already reached playing thresholds to void his contract for 2012, meaning he’ll be a free agent after this year unless the Seahawks can extend it beforehand. Reportedly, they’ve already had discussions.
Good. He’s turned into more than they could have expected.
It’s hard to remember that Lynch had a reputation for being troublesome off the field at times before the Seahawks picked him up via trade after four weeks last season. He’s considered a first-rate teammate and positive locker-room influence in Seattle.
During a break last season, for instance, he and buddy Justin Forsett spent an afternoon at the youth football game of one of the kids who worked at the team training camp.
He’s certainly a character, beyond his snacking on Skittles on the sideline after touchdowns. Sometimes in interviews he says things you can’t quite understand; sometimes he says things you can’t quite print. And Thursday, he didn’t want to say much at all, crediting the line and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson for good efforts.
And, as if the media was a cluster of Philadelphia defenders, Lynch spun out of the gathering and was gone.
The actuarial charts on running backs are grim, and you can’t necessarily project career expectancy based on age, but miles. And Lynch has taken a lot of hits despite being only 25.
But he has become an inspirational leader on this team, with exemplary effort and performance.
“This is what we expect from Marshawn,” fullback Mike Robinson said. “He’s a very special back.”
One who is well worth keeping around.
Dave Boling; 253-597-8440 email@example.com