With the Saints threatening to pull out a win Saturday at Qwest Field, Marshawn Lynch pulled a vintage run from his repertoire and pushed the Seahawks into the next round of the playoffs.
Click here to watch Marshawn’s run
The play is called “17 Power,” and it’s intended to get 3, 4, maybe 5 yards.
Saturday, the just-another-running-play turned into “24 Power” and gave a Seahawks a push into the second round of the NFL playoffs.
After the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints had cut the Seahawks lead to 34-30 in the fourth quarter at Qwest Field, and looked capable of erasing it with yet another Drew Bees-led scoring drive, the ball went to Marshawn Lynch on a second-and-10 play from the Seattle 33-yard line.
The back who describes his physical running style as “Beast Mode” and wears No. 24, started, stopped, twisted, spun, lunched, lurched and ran through five attempted tackles to score the touchdown that put the Seahawks up 44-30 with 3½ minutes to play.
“If you get 4.1 yards (on that play), you’re patting yourself on the back,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said when asked about the rampaging run after the Seahawks’ stunning 41-36 wild-card victory.
This time, in this win-or-else game, it went for more than 15 times that. And, in the first playoff game of his four-season NFL career, Lynch’s run carried the Seahawks into the divisional round of the postseason next weekend against either the Atlanta Falcons or Chicago Bears.
“That’s the best run I’ve ever seen,” said wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who is in his first season with the Seahawks but 12th in the NFL. “It was unbelievable, especially when we needed it. We needed a couple of first downs there to run the clock out and he just ran through the whole team.”
The effort Lynch showed on that electrifying run is the same he has displayed since being obtained in a trade with the Buffalo Bills in October. It’s just that the results haven’t always been there, as he averaged 3.6 yards while rushing for a team-leading 573 yards during the regular season. Saturday, Lynch finished with 131 yards.
“I was watching, and I was just hoping he would bust through that first line and get the first down,” Stokley said. “He just kept going. And he’s brought that mentality all year to us. One guy can’t bring that man down.”
Stokley will get no argument from veteran defensive back Jordon Babineaux, who played with Shaun Alexander during the Seahawks’ stretch of five consecutive playoff seasons from 2003-07 and also has played against the league’s best backs.
“That was one of the runs that you’ll remember,” Babineaux said. “You’ll go back and remember that run years from now. He ran us into the second round.”
For his part, Lynch seemed to have finally run out of gas by the time reporters were allowed into the locker room. He was subdued. He was even at a loss for words at times while being peppered with questions.
Asked about the run, he said in a near whisper, “It’s something to build off going into next week. I feel it was a pretty good feeling for us all. The offensive line did a great job of getting me to the secondary and I think instincts just took over from there.”
Told that five Saints had a shot at bringing him down, Lynch looked surprised and offered, “Is that right? I was just pretty determined, man – determined.”
When asked about the Seahawks needing that run at that time, Lynch said, “Well, I think that we did a pretty good job of just popping 3, 4 (yards) here, 8, 9 there. I just think it was overdue for one the running backs to have a long one and it just happened that my number had gotten called. And it was fun.”
Fun? That run set off pandemonium.
In the end zone, as Lynch did a backward tumble and was mobbed by his teammates.
“We were running zone, zone, zone and all of a sudden we hit them with a power,” center Chris Spencer said. “Marshawn, he did a helluva job. I came off and hit the safety and I just felt Marshawn come off me. I saw linemen downfield. I saw receivers downfield. Marshawn was stiff-arming people.
“I was just like, ‘Go.’ ”
Along the sideline, as the rest of his teammates celebrated with high-fives, shoulder bumps and raised arms.
“It was definitely ‘Beast Mode,’ ” veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy said. “Pete (Carroll) and (GM John) Schneider, they’ve been competing really hard all year. You see it with the 280-something roster moves, that they’ve been competing to get this team better – and not for the future, but for right now.
“Marshawn was a big addition to our team midway through the season and he showed today why. That was a finishing run in a very crucial situation against the World Champion.”
In the stands, where the 66,336 fans who had roared their approval all afternoon took the decibel level to another level.
“Marshawn is a great player,” rookie left tackle Russell Okung said. “We’ve really been pushing to get him loose. And hey, he finally popped one.”
Even during the run.
“I was looking to block,” Hasselbeck said, and then added with a smile, “But I was just looking.”
The view from the opposite sideline was not quite as giddy.
“That was a beastly run by him,” Saints free safety Darren Sharper said. “He had a lot more hunger than we did trying to bring him down.”