Marshawn Lynch thought for a moment about what he was just asked. And then he said what felt right.
“Hey, we are going to playoffs!” he said with a roar of laughter. “I don’t know what you just asked me. All I know is we are going to playoffs. I apologize. But this is my first time. And we are going to playoffs. I must have blanked out. Now what did you ask?”
Well, how gratifying was it to finally be able to run the football? Particularly in the second half, sealing a 16-6 win and giving the Seahawks the NFC West title?
“Oh, it was fun,” he said. “It felt good ’cause we are going to the playoffs. Did I mention that to you already?”
Yes, yes you did.
Lynch is a big reason for the Seahawks’ return to the postseason after a two-year hiatus. The hard-running tailback rushed for a game-high 75 yards on 20 carries. And more importantly, when the Seahawks needed to run the ball late in the game to kill the clock and the Rams’ victory hopes, Lynch shook off a third-quarter fumble, got the call again and flourished.
He carried the ball 10 times in the fourth quarter, including nine times for 33 yards on the Seahawks’ final drive, which ate up almost 6 minutes.
“I told him, ‘Let’s go, you’re going to finish the game running with the football,’ ” coach Pete Carroll said. “We went right back to him. He was really tough tonight.”
It was the most yards for Lynch since he ran for 83 against Carolina on Dec. 5.
They didn’t come easily, particularly in the first half, when the rushing attack looked like it has much of the season – inconsistent and anemic. Seattle had 22 yards rushing in the first half, and Lynch was at negative-1 yard rushing after 6 carries, which included a 12-yard gain.
“They did a good job at the beginning of the game,” Lynch said. “It was a little tough. Their defense was playing pretty good. In the second half, it kind of loosened up.”
But Lynch said there were no grand changes to the running scheme.
“We just stuck with it and it paid off for us and now we are going to playoffs,” he said.
Indeed, perhaps the most effective run play the Seahawks used was a simple run to the weak side, featuring Mike Gibson at guard and Sean Locklear at tackle with fullback Michael Robinson leading the way.
“The offensive line and Michael Robinson did a hell of a job of setting that edge and we just ate on it,” Lynch said. “It was beautiful. It’s fun to run through holes like that.”
Said Robinson: “I just went and got my guy and let the Beast work.”
The Seahawks continued to pound the same play.
“It’s an easy run,” Locklear said. “We knew where they are going to be at it. It’s all on us to go out and get our guys and the backs reading it right.”
As running backs do, Lynch credited the blocking almost as much as he mentioned the Seahawks were going to the playoffs.
“The guys up front did a wonderful job,” he said.
It was some vindication for a Seahawks offense that ranks last in the NFL in team rushing and was in danger of setting a franchise low for rushing yards in a season. Seattle came into the game needing 109 yards to surpass the total of 1,392 set by the 1989 team. It did in the fourth quarter, and finished with 141 yards in the game.
“If we can continue to run the ball like we did today, I could see big things for us,” Lynch said.
And all the past problems?
“They were just minor setbacks for a major comeback,” Lynch said pausing. “Cause we are going to the playoffs!”