Welp, that should settle that.
For months I've been trumpeting here and here -- maybe to the point of you being sick of reading it -- how Marshawn Lynch is so vital to the Seahawks' offense and their entire team in its hopes of returning to the Super Bowl. I've been writing how unsubstantiated the ESPN and NFL Network reports were from the morning of the Carolina game last month that the Seahawks were "fed up" with Lynch's "act" and that they would be sending him away after this season.
Anyone who thinks the Seahawks are tired of Lynch’s “act" should watch the replay of “Beast Mode” returning with a vengeance. Or they should listen to one of his blockers today, Alvin Bailey, here below. They would learn how vital Lynch remains to this offense — and to this franchise’s hopes of returning to the Super Bowl.
Lynch thumped and bulldozed; he finished one run at the goal line with his dreadlocks flying after his helmet flew off. Russell Wilson trumped another off day passing with his third 100-yard rushing game this season. And Seattle (6-3), with 40 percent of its starting offensive line returning from injuries, romped to a team-record 350 yards while scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to break the stunned New York Giants at roaring CenturyLink Field.
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They Seahawks improved to 26-5 when giving Lynch at least 20 carries in a game.
They bested their previous rushing record of 320 yards set against the Houston Texans in 2005 on the march to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance that season.
Wilson had his third two-interception game of his 31/2-season career while completing 10 of 17 passes for 172 yards. But he also had 107 yards rushing on 14 runs — and not mostly scrambles for his life, for a change. This is now the fourth time since 1961 an NFL quarterback has three 100-yard rushing games in a season.
But all Wilson and the Seahawks really needed was Lynch.
“We were getting into a rhythm,” said receiver Doug Baldwin, who had four catches for 31 yards, “feeling what it’s like to play Seahawks football again.”
Indeed, that was what this day was: reclaiming the offense’s, and team’s Super Bowl-winning identity of a 10 months ago. That was after a September of centering the offense around wide receiver Percy Harvin and then almost a full October of adjusting to abruptly trading their $11 million man to the New York Jets.
“I like where we’re going,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I told them that (Saturday) night that I think we’ve made a big shift in the last three weeks … I think we are playing the style of football that we want to play, and that we’re most comfortable with. And that’s really running the football and playing defense … and then see if the other teams can deal with this when we’re playing like that.
Specifically, Lynch is them.
As Bailey, Sunday's left guard while James Carpenter was out with a sprained ankle, put it: “He’s our backbone.
“Couldn't imagine our offense without him. The way he runs, that's our attitude, what we feed off.”
Lynch turns 29 next spring. His current contract has this season and next remaining on it, at a cost to the Seahawks of $7 million in 2015 after he turns 29. It’s likely Seattle will at least ask for Lynch to re-negotiate the end of the deal. Some think the Seahawks will release him.
His teammates had a three-word consensus for that latter thought in their locker room Sunday: No freakin’ way.
“I never want him to leave,” All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said.
Thomas said he wants Lynch as a teammate “as long as he is playing football.”
“Even if you don't understand that guy,” Thomas said, “you gotta give him the ball so he can do what he do.”
And for those who think Lynch is divisive to the team at worst, aloof and separate at a minimum, there was this:
Two plays after another Lynch run got a second-quarter drive going against the Giants, Robert Turbin ran but fumbled. New York recovered near midfield. Turbin later said it was the second fumble he’s lost since 2009 when he was at Utah State.
He slinked off the field as Seattle’s defense ran on it. Lynch, who had out for two plays, walked off the sideline onto the field. He met his primary backup at the yard-line numbers and gave him a succinct message in Lynch-ian language as vintage as his game Sunday.
Lynch wasn’t trippin’ over anything.
Certainly not the trampled Giants.
"Marshawn was just extraordinary today," Carroll said. "His open field work, his tough work in the piles and moving the piles forward was just incredibly good. ... It was just a huge day. I’m real proud of him.
"“No, I’m not surprised, because everything he’s shown, I started talking about it from the first couple of days he got back to camp, and I saw him work, he just looked so quick and in such great shape. That’s all we’ve ever said, all the way throughout this whole season, that he’s looked terrific, and his playmaking has been obvious. His toughness has been there, his illusiveness has been there, his burst has been there. He’s making the most of it, and really doing some great stuff.”
Doesn't sound like a coach that wants to get rid of Marshawn Lynch after this season, does it?
Here are some of the Seahawks postgame quotes from the locker room and, in the cases of Carroll and Wilson, from the podium:HEAD COACH PETE CARROLL
(Opening…) “This was a really cool day of football. To have a tough first half, and go back and forth and not get a whole lot done, defensively, really, but offensively we moved it, but not enough done score-wise. Then, to come in at halftime and go back out and not give them anything. They didn’t make any yards, they didn’t make any points. We rushed for 200 yards in the second half and just really controlled the football game. It seemed like the momentum really shifted after Earl’s interception. But, I think we were ready to go and I think we were ready to take off and obviously the guys did it. It’s a really good statement for our guys up front. We saw Max come back and Russell come back and we have a huge day running the football. I understand it’s a franchise record, I guess. 350, which is fantastic. They did a great job up front. It was really exciting to see those guys back together and have that much success. I thought Marshawn was just extraordinary today. His open field work, his tough work in the piles and moving the piles forward was just incredibly good, and he scored 4 touchdowns on the day. It was just a huge day. I’m real proud of him. I really liked the way we finished this football game in general. That’s what we like. We came out at halftime, down 17-14, and we just picked up and took off with it, and that’s so important. We’re going to need these kinds of finishes, we’re going to need these kinds of games, down the stretch here, to do what we want to do. It was a really cool day with the 12s. They were going crazy in the rain and out of the rain and all that. It was good, our two game home stand is now over, unfortunately, but we made the most of it, and I know our fans were great, and we’re grateful for it.“
(On whether he is surprised at how well Marshawn Lynch is playing…) “No, I’m not surprised, because everything he’s shown, I started talking about it from the first couple of days he got back to camp, and I saw him work, he just looked so quick and in such great shape. That’s all we’ve ever said, all the way throughout this whole season, that he’s looked terrific, and his playmaking has been obvious. His toughness has been there, his illusiveness has been there, his burst has been there. He’s making the most of it, and really doing some great stuff.”
(On whether the game plan come in was to run it that much… ) “Yeah, we wanted to. We wanted to run the football. I think we ran it 20 times in the first half, or something like that, which is a great start, we didn’t have to throw the ball much, which was fine. We just as soon do it that way. The fact that we had so much success, and I thought Tom and Darrell did a great job scheming today. You could see the impact that Russell’s running has. He had 100 yards today. That impact, mixing with what Marshawn was doing, it just got to where they couldn’t find us. I thought it was a great job of staying with the running game, and continuing to move it around, and the whole scheme worked out really well. ”
(On whether there is concern about Wilson’s two interceptions today…) “I thought the guy made a really good play on the first one. We had seen a lot of open space underneath him throughout the preparation and he came back and made a nice play on the comeback. But, we got a little loose with the football, and they did get the turnovers today. For our philosophy to work, we think we need to be plus on the other end of it. I think today was a great demonstration that we hung in there and made it happen and got our turnovers in the second half and turned the game in the opposite direction. But, no, we don’t want to give them the football like that. ”
(On the additional rushing from Christine Michael…) “The whole running back group did a great job today. Turbo had some really nice runs, but it was really fun to see Christine get out and get some space. You saw him on the edge a couple of times, he really showed his burst on the big run that he had, as well. He was obviously jacked, to be able to contribute in a way. He’s been coming, we’ve seen it happen in the last few weeks, and we’ve been working for opportunities, and it’s been great to see him get a bunch.”
(On mixing and matching cornerbacks, and having some depth there… ) “I think we probably played Maxy a little over 30 plays, that was the intention, to mix him with Tharold. Burley was still a little gimpy, so it gave Jeremy Lane a great chance to play the nickel spot today. Burley played a little bit, but we needed to hold him out, so Jeremy got play time as well. It seemed like just a total bonus, that we have those guys now. We’ve been without them for so long, it seems. It’s great to have them back. We got a couple of guys nicked today, but we hope to get some other guys back in the next week or so, so we’ll see if we can keep getting stronger.”
(On Brandon Mebane’s injury…) “Yes, he pulled a hamstring, today. Don’t know how serious, yet. But, that’s a big man to pull a hammy. Can you imagine how big his hamstring is?”
(On Luke Willson …) “Luke sprained his ankle today.”
(On Cooper Helfet…) “He just got banged a little bit. It’s worth mentioning that Cooper did a great job. We had one tight end going today, and he was banged up, too, during the game. He did a fantastic job of hanging in there and finishing the game for us.“
(On how the team sits right now…) “I like where we’re going. I really do. I told them that last night, that I think we’ve made a big shift in the last three weeks, and two weeks, and I was hoping it would happen again today. I think we’re playing the style of football that we want to play, and that we’re most comfortable with, and that’s really running the football and playing defense and teams the way we’d like, and then see if the other teams can deal with this when we’re playing like that. It’s been very successful for us. Whereas you might look at it as we didn’t throw the ball very much today, or very well, however you look at it, we’re thrilled about the way this game come off. We love running the football like that. It’s a great style of ball and, it won’t always be a big game like that, but that’s us. That’s what we’re trying to get done, and we love that attitude and that style of ball. Not everybody appreciates that as much, which I don’t really care about, but we love it.”
(On what has changed over the last three weeks...) “I think we’ve made the same kind of shift, it’s almost like a polar shift that occurred here, like it happened after the Tampa Bay game last year. We went right back to fundamentals. We went right back to the basics of what we want to be as a team, and the players, they just decided that they were ready to really take this next step. We thought we were doing all right, but there was another big step to take, and we took it in terms of commitment and accountability, we’ve made that step. Now we have to build on that, and it’s already gone. This game’s over and we need to do it again. It’s a week to week proving ground for us, and we need to keep working at it.”
(On what has improved offensively…) “I don’t know if it’s anything in particular. I think the whole football team has just stepped forward differently in the way that we really needed to, in the intensity and the toughness and really working together and playing smart. We had very good tempo today, I don’t know if you noticed that. There was a couple of times we weren’t able to keep it going, but the tempo was really quick today, and that was something of emphasis to us, we think we’re best when we’re playing like that. I think we still have so much to improve at, we have so many areas we can continue to get better at. I think our third down work was really good, I think we were 7 for 12, or something. That’s a great day for us on third down, that does give you all those extra drives and those extra chances. It’s like starting all over again, with momentum, and we took advantage of that.“
(On whether he expects Kam Chancellor back next week at Kansas City…) “Yes. ”
(On the defensive play…) “I think three weeks of defense has been pretty obvious. We have shifted the guys that are doing it because of injuries, but it’s not about one guy, it’s about the whole group and they’ve really jumped up. Again, a fantastic finish today, of pressuring, and just making the hits, and all those dump offs that wind up being no yards because our guys are flying out of the secondary, it was really emblematic of the style that we want to demonstrate.”
(On the battles between Beckham and Sherman…) “I thought Beckham was really good. He really came out of there and he was the big factor early on, and then Kris (Richard) and Rocky (Seto) and those guys made a couple of adjustments, and he really quieted down. Some nice things in there to keep him from having his opportunities. I thought that he showed that he was a really good football player today, and they’ve got a great one in that kid.”
(On any other injuries…) “There’s a couple guys that got banged up, and we’ll wait and see. No serious ones right now.
QB RUSSELL WILSON
(On the rushing game today…) “It’s always good to have a great day. We were able to run the ball extremely well, and that’s what we want to do, we want to be physical. We want to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, and let him do his thing, and he had an exceptional game today, and the offensive line was tremendous. To rush for 350 yards plus, that’s a pretty good day.”
(On having Max Unger back in the lineup…) “To have Max in there, it really solidifies a lot of things. I thought Schilling and Lewis did a great job when they had to step up for us, and that’s what we’ve had to deal with all season, is guys having to step up. We’ve had a lot of guys out. Getting some guys back, we had some guys back this week, and obviously to have Max back, and then have Russell Okung back, and hopefully soon we’ll be getting Zach Miller back here, too. Those are the things that we look forward to. Max Unger played a great game tonight. I thought we were really up tempo today, that was our focus, offensively, to be up tempo, and I thought the defense played a great game, they got us the ball and we capitalized when we needed to.”
(On whether the offense has rediscovered its identify… ) “I think the offense, we’re still figuring our way. We know we want to run the ball. We know we want to be explosive in the passing game and make plays and sometimes be creative, because sometimes the scrambles are going to happen for us, and we want to be big-time there. You think about Jermaine Kearse being able to go deep there on the scramble play and make that big time catch for us. Those are things that we’re going to be able to do. I think the receivers that we have, they’re doing a great job. You think about the young guys having to step up and play right away, that’s not easy to do. With all of the injuries we’ve had so far, we’re still finding ways to win games. That’s what it all comes down to, is winning games, no matter what it takes—finding a way to win. ”
(On how well Marshawn Lynch is playing right now…) “He’s having an MVP performance. That’s what you want out of your star player, and he’s doing a great job. He’s playing his best football. I’m really excited for Marshawn, when he’s going, it really makes things happen for us. I think, in terms of our passing game, we’re right there. There’s some things that we have to fix, and work on, and I have to get better at. But with the way we’re running the football, if we get our passing game going, when we do, it’s going to be really hard to stop us. ”
(On what the offense would be like without Lynch… ) “I think we’ve been able to prove that we can go two minute and throw for a lot of yards when we have to, and come back from behind, and all those type of things. So, there’s no concern in terms of that. But, to have a guy like Marshawn, it’s a great thing. You do have two great backups in Robert Turbin, who’s really a starter in terms of his ability and what he can really do. You think of Christine Michael, you saw what he could do with his speed and his acceleration in terms of the flip play that we had for him. Also, I’m not sure how far the run was, but the 50+ yard run that he had near the end of the game.“
(On mentally fighting through a two interception game…) “You’re going to have some bad plays in there. We had two bad plays today. Other than that, I thought we played a great football game. So, you learn from it. I think that you have to be able to adjust. I always use the baseball analogy, that’s the only other thing I know. Sometimes you strike out, but you get up again and you keep swinging. I think for us, we’re right there. The guys are really clicking and we’re making things happen and we’re finding ways to win, and that’s ultimately what we want to do.”
“Thank you guys. Go Hawks”
WR DOUG BALDWIN
(On coming on strong in the second half) “We found a way to pull it out. That’s football man. That’s just the way it is. You have to give their guys on the other side of the ball a lot of credit. The record might not reflect the best, but that’s a talented team over there. We just try to play the best of our ability and unfortunately it wasn’t as pretty as we would like it to be but a win is a win.”
(On Marshawn Lynch) “He is unbelievable. Unbelievable man. Anytime he touches the ball something magical happens and he did it again today.”
(On if Marshawn Lynch is getting better) “I think so and that’s a sign of a true competitor, a player with grit. As the season goes on and progresses, they just get better and better and obviously he’s doing that right now.”
(On if this much running was in the game plan or what the Giants defense gave you) “It’s what the Giants defense gave us. They were playing soft an awful lot a lot of time so we had to aim the ball low. They dictated the game by just allowing us to run the ball.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DARRELL BEVELL
(On how much cleaner it felt up front with Russell Okung and Max Unger back in) “Well I think the communication is really clean when Max [Unger] is in there. Obviously he has the most experience. He’s been able to look at it the most. He’s great at talking to the rest of the guys. He’s used to playing with the guys besides him and the communication is just a lot better when he’s in there.”
(On the read option) “There’s always a little bit of it in the game plan. Like I said earlier, you’re trying to get opportunities to see certain things and the way it was going gave you enough opportunities to take a look at it and then you were able to make adjustments off of it and it was just able to get rolling today.”
(On the opposing team being worried that Marshawn Lynch would go one way and Russell Wilson would go the opposing way) “I mean I think we’re tough to defend. With Russell’s [Wilson] ability to pull the ball and run I think it’s trouble because of Marshawn Lynch. He starts up front with him but then there’s little things in the passing game that we can do as well. We were able to slide back Doug [Baldwin] one time and get him out on the flat and it just looks the same but it’s a little bit different. It was able to cause some problems.”
(On the passing game being a slight struggle today) “They got us one time. They did a really nice job disguising the coverage and something that we had worked on and coached. They just got us with the disguise. It’s a rough day. That wind. The rain was kind of coming, stop and going and it was heavy at times. At the end it was coming down pretty good. You saw how slippery the ball got. It was almost like a greased pig. It was all over the place. There’s still things that we can clean up that we’ll go back to film and work on.”
TE COOPER HELFET
(On the offensive linemen) “Obviously when the run game gets going like that, we want that to be our attitude from the start. We just want to run the ball hard—that’s what we do best, give the ball to twenty-four [Marshawn Lynch], let him work, and try to stay on our blocks because if we stay on our blocks he’s going to make a big play. That was the game plan, we stuck to it, and it ended up coming up big in the third and fourth quarter.”
(On Russell Wilson) “He’s super intelligent out there—he always, for the most part, makes the right decisions especially on those give-pull reads where he picks one guy to look at and decides whether he should give it or pull it. It’s something that he’s worked on a lot and it’s something that he’s gotten better at.”
(On the passing game struggling) “Passing game is tough because it’s kind of a flow thing. It’s one of those things where you get in a rhythm and get going or if it doesn’t, then it’s hard to get it going. First half was kind of spotty here and there—we made a couple big plays and we had a couple tough ones, but when Russ [Russell Wilson] gets out of the pocket and makes that big play down field to [Jermaine] Kearse, then he makes all those big catches and starts to feel himself and get going and we’re rolling.”
WR JERMAINE KEARSE
(On Earl Thomas’ tipped ball interception) “That’s what we need. Those guys are going to get us the ball back and we just have to capitalize off it and I feel like things are really starting to come together.”
(On how much the offense feeds off of the defense creating turnovers like that) “It’s huge. When defense is creating turnovers and getting the offense the ball back, it allows us to work some things and get the offense going to put some points on the board.”
(On how hard it has been with losing Percy Harvin, getting two young guys, etc) “Losing an explosive player like Percy [Harvin] is a tough loss. But we have some guys that are stepping up. You know, me and Doug are trying to get the young guys going and they’ve really done a lot of great things for us so we’re going to continue to try to help them get going and continue to learn ourselves and get better ourselves and work on that chemistry with Russell [Wilson] and just get that passing game going.”
T RUSSELL OKUNG
(On how nothing gets away from them) “Just kind of stayed at it. We stayed at it and we kept pushing and kept driving and before you know it we’re breaking big runs.”
(On what it means having won two games in a row) “Just another one on the board. Obviously we’re very grateful but we’re looking forward to the next week already. Looking forward to playing a good team at Kansas City and hopefully taking some of this game with us.”
(On Marshawn Lynch’s performance today) “He’s a phenomenal player. I think we all know what he can do and so grateful they really put the game on our backs today as an offensive line and we were able to show up.”
(On taking pride in 350 rushing yards) “Oh no, no that’s great. That’s an offensive lineman’s dream. I’m just glad we could help out and do that today.”
G J.R. SWEEZY
(On how the team prepared for the game) “We really increased our tempo this week and it really showed up in the game. Once we started going, it was hard to stop. We felt it and we just kept getting after it.”
(On read option being in the game plan) “Well that’s all Russ [Russell Wilson]. That’s him making his reads, playing ball, and being the playmaker that he is.”
(On Marshawn Lynch) “That’s Marshawn—running guys over, the O-line running down there and cleaning up piles. That’s our style and we really got after it today.”
DE MICHAEL BENNETT
(On the pile to recover the ball) “I wasn’t sure who had the ball—I was just trying to make sure we had the ball at the end so it’s good that we came out with it.”
(On how good can this team be) “This team can be as good as it wants—we already went to the Super Bowl. That’s always the (goal)—to win the division and keep playing—we’re as good as we want to be so every week we have to show up because no matter who we’re playing, we’re always getting their best. They change up every weekend and we have to come out and play.”
(On guys coming back, is the team rolling) “I think we’re getting rolling with a lot of guys coming back from different positions. We lost [Brandon] Mebane today—that’s one of the keys to maintaining the run game but Jordan [Hill] gets to step up and Kevin [Williams] gets to come in and play some nose. So it’s going to be a good turnout.”
(On not starting out strong) “I mean they had some good plays—this was probably the first time Eli [Manning] threw the ball in under three seconds. Prior in every game, he’d been holding it time after time, but today they were getting the ball out really quick—getting a couple three step big throws and it was quick. They caught the ball, but we came back and bounced back in the second half and held them from catching it.”
SS JERON JOHNSON
(On making adjustments) “Yes—we gave up some deep balls in the secondary and that’s not like us. Coach came up to us and did a good job of getting us back on track—we knew what we had to do in the second half and we came out and executed.”
(On younger players stepping up) “KPL [Kevin Pierre-Louis] had a nice play on that tackle. We’re rolling right now—we’re in a great groove, we just have to keep going and continue to get better week in and week out.”
OLB KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS
(On what’s the capacity for the team to win) “The sky is the limit. We work so hard during the week, we believe in each other, we have a bunch of guys stepping up now with injuries that have happened with this team, and we have guys coming back so we’re only going to get stronger. We have a lot of depth now—Brock [Coyle] has been doing a great job at the mike, K.J. [Wright] has been absolutely killing it wherever we place him, the whole d-line is pressuring the quarterback, and Mike B [Bennett] had a sack today. So we’re all trying to make plays as a team and as a defense and even on special teams.”
(On adjustments) “Earl [Thomas] just talked about believing. We have to believe that we can make the plays. We started to believe and the plays started coming to us. We keep working hard—I mean they’re [Giants] coached up too so they’re going to make plays, but we had to allow the plays to come to us. Early in the first half, I remember Sherm [Richard Sherman] told me, ‘Just play slowly and act fast.’ I feel as if the whole team started to do that—we played a little slower, reacted fast, and we got it together.”
S EARL THOMAS
(On how he feels after the game) “It was just a great game. This game was just so awesome—it’s just a humbling experience to play this child’s game that you’ve been playing all of your life and to have all of your teammates with you. The way we rallied and never gave up—this is just a humbling experience for me. I’m just excited to be a part of this.”
(On how the defense changed in the second half) “I think we started out of character early with not staying on top, but we made the correct adjustments to get everything together. I think it’s all about strategy and understanding how they want to attack you, but they did some things that we haven’t seen. But Coach did a great job of preparing us for that—thirteen [Odell Beckam Jr.] is a great player. They tried to move him in the slot, the Z receiver, and the X receiver just to get him open. He did a great job making big plays for them.”
(On his interception) “Well, Sherm [Richard Sherman] is playing his butt off. He’s a competitor—that’s why he’s the best corner in the league. When you run—good stuff happens. We’re always talking about running to the ball, fighting for every inch and that’s what we do.”
CB RICHARD SHERMAN
(On Earl Thomas’ interception) “Well it was a fade—looked like they all ran seams. Eli [Manning] took a while to get it out—he let it develop a little bit. It was a fade all the way—I went up to play it, got grabbed a little bit; I was able to get a hand on it, tip it off, he got it, and we started rolling.”
(On was he surprised how late the pass came) “I was—but [Odell] Beckam is a great player so they had to depend on him and take risks and take shots in games like this. He was able to get one earlier, which was a great play by him.”