Marshawn Lynch’s return to the Seahawks nearly lived up to the hype.
Seattle had 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line with :22 left in the game, needing a touchdown for the win. One yard from Lynch would have given him his second score of the game and the Seahawks an NFC West title.
Instead, Seattle bungled getting the correct personnel into the game and took a 5-yard delay of game penalty. Now we’ll never know whether or not Lynch would have gotten the ball in that scenario. The Seahawks ultimately lost, 26-21, and had to watch the 49ers celebrate a division championship on their home field.
Still, Lynch provided more than enough for fans eager to get their fill of Beast Mode nostalgia. His stat line – 12 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown – was unspectacular while completely mesmerizing at the exact same time.
His first carry, a 5-yard gain, sent fans into a tizzy. A minor “Beastquake” occurred when Lynch had back-to-back carries of eight and 15 yards in the second half. Lynch then leapt into the end zone to score from 1-yard out, followed immediately by his celebratory handshakes with the rest of the offense.
“I thought the whole thing was pretty magical,” Pete Carroll said on Monday.
Carroll said after the game on Sunday that Lynch’s 12 carries were right in the ballpark for what Seattle planned on giving him. Lynch’s yards per carry average (2.8) was underwhelming but some of that was a result of poor blocking up front. That was the case when Seattle ran Lynch into a 10-man box on 4th-and-1 in the first half.
When Lynch had space, he made the most of it. Niners defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said postgame that Lynch “still has some juice.”
“I thought he did incredible,” Carroll said. “I thought he was incredible just to be out there. He played hard and tough, and he came out OK.”
Lynch’s touchdown apparently gave Carroll some déjà vu to a play that occurred during the week of practice. There was a similar goal line play where Lynch faked at leaping over the goal line.
“I don’t know if he heard me, but I said, ‘don’t tease me.’ Because I’ve always wanted to see him go over the top. Sure enough, he had his chance and he did it. I was thrilled to see that happen. I thought that was a thrilling touchdown, a thrilling moment for everybody.”
Above the production, Carroll made a point to comment on Lynch’s approach to his return to football. Lynch, 33, hadn’t played in a game in 14 months. Everyone wondered what he had left in the tank.
“You don’t all know Marshawn, but you should all be really proud of the way he handled this,” Carroll said. “He handled it in extraordinary fashion. He has been all in, every aspect, everything that he could have done to get ready and to try to help this team. It could have gone numbers of different ways, it’s such a unique, crazy situation that we put him in.
“But he handled it impeccably. He got his chances. He got a little space. We got to see him get a little run, which was nice. And then he scored a touchdown for us, which was pretty sweet.”
Lynch said postgame that he could feel himself getting his legs under him in the second half of Seattle’s loss to the 49ers on Sunday night. Should he be able to carry that momentum into the Wildcard Round against the Eagles, don’t be surprised to see Lynch surpass 15 touches in Philadelphia.