Remember the epitaphs that were being written for Marshawn Lynch’s career in Seattle?
Giants linebacker Jameel McClain might offer compelling testimony to the contrary — once they scrape him off the tinted shield of Lynch’s helmet.
It was just a couple weeks ago that some national outlets were reporting Lynch’s impending demise with these claims:
He’s getting old.
The Seahawks’ management is tired of his disruptive behavior.
There’s a couple young draft choices waiting to get on the field, so he’ll surely be too expensive to keep next season.
Be reminded, those random speculations came from outside the Seahawks headquarters.
Lynch responded to the talk the way he always has, by unleashing a competitive combativeness that inspires every player on the team.
Since he was labeled “on the bubble” in a national report, Lynch has powered to 306 yards rushing and receiving, and scored six touchdowns — in wins over Oakland and the New York Giants.
“I thought Marshawn was just extraordinary today,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
With regular offensive linemen Russell Okung and Max Unger returning from injuries, the Seahawks rushed for a franchise record 350 yards in the 38-17 win over the Giants.
The Hawks trailed 17-14 at halftime, were turning the ball over on offense and putting forth an unconvincing performance at home against a nine-point underdog.
At that point, Lynch did what he does like few in the game have ever done: Become a yard-gobbling, knee-churning beast with gyroscopic balance and indomitable will.
With one play, early in the second half, he changed the game.
On a second and 1 at the Seahawks 29, Lynch took the handoff for a lead play off the right tackle behind new fullback Will Tukuafu. McClain responded perfectly, scraping off the tackle and meeting Lynch in the hole at the line of scrimmage.
McClain is 245 pounds, and a seven-year veteran. He squared up on Lynch and executed a perfect form tackle. Except that Lynch powered through it as if it had been an intramural freshman player flailing at his legs.
Twenty-two yards later, a gang of Giants finally pulled Lynch to the turf.
On the sidelines, Seahawks teammates had rushed to the sideline for a better view. They jumped around in excitement. And if any of them hadn’t been playing with a red-lining intensity, they had to be feel chastened by Lynch’s conspicuous effort.
“That’s his style; we give him an inch, and he makes something happen,” said guard J.R. Sweezy. “I feel like we really, truly feed off him. He’s physically and mentally one of the great players, and we love blocking for him.”
Tukuafu went further, calling it a “privilege” to block for Lynch. He had been on the other side of the field from Lynch before, playing for San Francisco, and said that Lynch’s reputation with the 49ers was as a back that refused to be tackled by fewer than a handful of defenders.
In that second half, after Lynch swatted away McClain, the Seahawks outscored the Giants 24-0.
Lynch didn’t share comments about his performance, rushing off when approached in the locker room. He’s not a fan of chatting. And he may not show up at the White House, or fulfill some other team expectations.
But this guy changes football games. He’s a winner. And he elevates the expectation of toughness for everybody on the team.
Think they should keep him around?
“It’s hard to replace guys like that, you know; they don’t come around very often,” said safety Earl Thomas. “… from my eyes, just to see him running like he’s in Pop Warner, just running over guys, just fighting for every yard for his teammates — you can’t do nothing but respect guys like that.”
Thing is, there just aren’t many guys like that.
“He’s unbelievable,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “Unbelievable man. Anytime he touches the ball, something magical happens, and he did it again today.”