The bigger the stage, the bigger Marshawn Lynch seems to come up. It was apparent during his club playoff-record 140-yard performance against the Saints. It needs to be just as obvious in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.
It’s not just a new season for the Seahawks, it’s the postseason. But it’s also the same old Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks’ Beast Mode back had been running under the radar, and his usual production, down the stretch during the regular season. Lynch had gone six consecutive games without a 100-yard rushing performance, the first time that had happened since the first six games he played in 2011.
But that changed during his eye-opening, jaw-dropping performance against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, when Lynch got the ball more (28 carries) and did more with it (140 yards and two touchdowns) in the Seahawks’ 23-15 victory that lifted them into Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Lynch has played in five postseason games – all with the Seahawks, who acquired him in a 2010 trade with the Buffalo Bills. He has scored five touchdowns and produced three 100-yard rushing performances – three of the top four in franchise history, including his club postseason-record 140-yard effort against the Saints that included TD runs of 31 and 15 yards.
“He’s on it,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “He feels great. His body’s in great shape. I was just watching him today in the walkthrough, and just really so grateful that he feels so good right now. He’s physically in great shape. He’s really taking care of himself. The trainers and everybody have done a great job managing him through the season. It’s an enormous challenge for these guys physically to take it on.”
Especially when you take it on the way Lynch does, which is head-on. He had 301 carries during the regular season, the second-highest total of his career to the 315 he had last season. He added 28 more against the Saints to tie his season high from Week 2 against the 49ers, after averaging 18 during the previous six games.
“He still looks fast and quick and ready to go again,” Carroll said. “Marshawn battles every week and when you give him chances, he makes plays. He just continues to crank it out for us.”
The 49ers have been tough to crack triple digits against. No back in the league did it this season, but Lynch came closer than anyone else with 98 yards in the Week 2 game at CenturyLink Field and he also had 72 in last month’s game in San Francisco.
Doug Baldwin has had an up-close view the past three seasons of the chaos Lynch can create, after the wide receiver joined the team as a rookie free agent in 2011.
“It never ceases to amaze me the way that he plays the game of football,” Baldwin said Tuesday. “You can tell he loves the game of football and his passion for what he does just in the way that he runs. Every time he touches the ball it’s something exciting.
“The run, it may be designed to get a 2- or 3-yard gain, but he’ll always find a way to get 4 or 5 yards out it. And if it’s designed for a 4- or 5-yard gain, he’ll break it for a touchdown. So it never ceases to amaze me the way that he runs the ball, and the way that he carries himself. His balance and his tenacity and his desire to not go down, I don’t think there’s anybody in the league like him.”
Baldwin then shook his head and smiled before adding, “I can’t say enough about the guy.”
Even with that said, Baldwin gave it a go by offering, “I love him as a football player and as a teammate.”
Lynch’s take? Typically Lynch.
“I don’t run to get tackled,” he said after Saturday’s game.