13 things to appreciate about Marshawn Lynch’s amazing run
A closer look at Marshawn Lynch’s 79-yard touchdown run from Sunday night.
1. The play call is 17 Power, or at least that’s what it was called in 2011. Allow Marshawn Lynch’s fullback on the Beast Quake run to explain:
— Michael Robinson (@RealMikeRob) December 22, 2014
It’s a staple of the Seahawks run game and is shown out of all sorts of different looks. At this point, though, Seattle should probably flip the terminology. 17 Beast has a better ring to it. It’s Marshawn’s money play.
Lynch is expected to hit a hole between the left guard and left tackle, ushered through by a pulling right guard. If the block is right and the hole is there, the play is typically good for 10 yards and a first down.
The play itself is simple and relatively standard at all levels of football. Every playbook likely has some variation of it, and while the terminology may differ it’s simply Power. It’s a play that is exactly what the name says it is: No trickery or disguising things; just power and execution. The defense knows where the play is going. The offense is daring the defense to stop it.
2. Marshawn Lynch was sick. It may not have seemed like it on the run, but Lynch spent most of the first quarter alternating between eating Skittles — his medicine — and attempting to throw up in a Gatorade cooler. He may never have thrown up — not for lack of effort, because he was certainly trying to get the evil out — but Lynch certainly was not at 100 percent.
3. This all should’ve looked familiar
There are differences, of course, but the beginning, middle and end are very much the same. It starts with 17 Power, continues until some defensive backs get embarrassed, and ends with Marshawn Lynch grabbing his crotch while diving backwards into the end zone. It’s been a little over three years since the Beast Quake happened. Lynch just managed to pay the best tribute … to himself.
4. Everything goes wrong in the first second and a half of the play. A missed ankle tackle at the line of scrimmage barely even slows Lynch, and there’s nobody outside to contain Lynch. Patrick Peterson follows Ricardo Lockette inside like he’s covering a slant, and voila: a cutback lane appears. Lynch didn’t even have to emerge from a mass of bodies like he did in 2011.
The Cardinals had been doing a nice job containing Lynch before that run, too. Take away the 79-yard play that is going to haunt Arizona players on highlight tapes forever and they limited Lynch to 34 yards on nine carries.
5. Lynch is known for his power running. He’s not afraid to run players over, no matter their size. His calling card is bodies sprawled all over the field, whether by running through arm tackles or gently pushing grown men over with a stiff-arm. This run was more finesse than power, though.
Sure, he took the opportunity to dump truck a couple defensive backs when needed, but this was simply a great run. Lynch had great vision to hit the cutback once he found daylight; from there, it was off to the races. There were elements of power, but Lynch showed off everything in his bag of tricks.
6. Waddling with speed might be the best way to describe Lynch’s running style. He doesn’t look like a speedster or even like a natural runner at all. Instead, he runs with a very wide base and maintains his balance at all times. That’s why many times you’ll see four, five or six players trying to gang tackle him all the time, and Lynch remaining upright at the end of the play with forward progress stopped.
That running style is evident first when he breaks the tackle at the line of scrimmage, then again when he decides to run over two poor defensive backs at the same time. Lynch has some of the most incredible balance you’ll see for an NFL running back, and that’s what makes everything go.
7. Balance is also how Lynch somehow managed to stay inbounds. For such a powerful guy, Lynch’s ability to both stay on his feet and stay inbounds is astounding. He was hemmed in with nowhere to go and … poof. Out the other end came Lynch.
It should also be noted that neither 21 or 26 looked like they wanted a thing to do with Lynch. They were assigned to usher him out of bounds, but when it came time to finish the drill each of them made a business decision … and they still got run over. Life is tough.
8. But speaking of speed, we need to talk about Ricardo Lockette. That’s No. 83 in the GIF below — the guy who starts by running a slant from the top of the screen and throwing a small block.
Go back and watch where he is throughout the run. He makes a half block on 26, then turns and follows Lynch to clean up 26 (again, after chasing him down), before going out of bounds to make sure 21 can’t go anywhere. Finally, Lockette accelerates again and cuts off 31 to seal the play. Lockette threw four blocks on three guys and ran just as far, if not farther than, Lynch on the play.
Lockette was Lynch’s body man, assigned to protect and usher him through the crowd.
9. This is where Sunday’s run diverges from the Beast Quake. In 2011, Lynch had a convoy of linemen and even the quarterback ushering him along downfield. This time, though, the damage was done at the line of scrimmage and Lynch showed more speed than force. Instead of the entire offensive line catching up and guiding Lynch into the end zone, we had Lockette. And that was really all that was needed.
10. The beauty of Lynch’s celebration is that it both caused an uproar with people who care way too much about class, and provided a strong response to said uproar.
There. That’s all it takes. The picture triggers the easy-to-press outrage button in certain demographics, and can then be used to articulate a response to said outrage. “Don’t like Marshawn Lynch grabbing his junk while diving into the end zone after running over the Cardinals? I understand your point and let me just find this …” [throws picture on the table and walks away]
11. Lynch said little more than “Thank You For Asking” after the game in post game interviews, and that’s only because he didn’t want to get fined. We should be used to it by now, but Lynch’s silence, like the previously mentioned crotch grab, was bait for Outrage Twitter And Columnists. It was as predictable as it was silly.
It makes journalists’ jobs harder when Lynch doesn’t talk, but this is all inside media drama that few in the public will care about. Making the story about Lynch not talking detracts from the REALLY FUN thing that happened on the field. In the time it took to run over and through the Cardinals defense, Lynch said all he needed to say. He just happened to do it with his actions instead of his words, and having him walk a writer through the run moments after the game, and on a deadline, doesn’t do anyone much good.
If you do want examples of dealing with Lynch and writing great things, though, there are two very recent examples:
This is a deadline piece from Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times that serves as an immediate oral history of the run. It’s great! And it has a ton of quotes from the entire team, including an all-timer from Michael Bennett.
This is a profile of Marshawn Lynch from Robert Klemko at MMQB. Lynch gave Klemko exactly eight words, and it didn’t matter. Klemko wrote around the lack of access to the subject, and wrote the hell out of the piece.
It’s possible to write great things about Marshawn Lynch without being able to talk to Marshawn Lynch. It’s more difficult, of course, but spending time talking to people around Lynch and finding a unique angle sure seems more productive than whining.
12. Back to the actual run: The referees should’ve stopped the fight. It was over after this, and if there’s ever a time to adapt And-1 rules, whereby a ball is thrown into the crowd and the game is declared over, this was it.
13. Earl Thomas made the best effort to tackle Marshawn Lynch.