RENTON, Wash. – Inside the huddle, the call was for “17 power,” a simple run play meant to get a handful of yards and to continue draining the clock.
And as Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson remembered on Wednesday, “We blocked it totally wrong.”
Marshawn Lynch got those few yards the Seahawks were hoping for when he got through the first wave of the New Orleans Saints defense. What transpired over the next 13 seconds after Lynch shed the first attempted tackle by Scott Shanle lives on as one of the greatest runs in NFL playoff history.
“It was probably shown for a good month on every type of highlight film,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. “It was an amazing run. There wasn’t enough Skittles in the stadium for him on that play.”
Lynch’s seismic touchdown run during an NFC divisional playoff game against New Orleans is back in the spotlight this week with the Seahawks and Saints meeting on Monday night for the first time since that January 2011 night.
It’s a run that’s been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube, still draws smiles and gasps and has defined Lynch’s playing style. Whenever his “Beast Mode” nickname is mentioned, a highlight of that second-down play in the fourth quarter that sealed the Seahawks’ 41-36 playoff upset follows.
Lynch broke eight tackles on his way to a 67-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown that propelled a 7-9 Seahawks team into the second round of the playoffs. The moment was equal parts important and stunning, with a crowd reaction that created a seismic tremor recorded by a monitoring station near the stadium.
No wonder it’s affectionately still referred to as “The Beast Quake.”
“It was a great moment. I wasn’t different than the fans on that one. I kind of marveled at what happened,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “The timing of it, the impact on the game and kind of the clarity that this is now a game that we’ve got is what it felt like. … That was just an extraordinary moment on the football field. A great play, great run, great timing and he couldn’t have been more dramatic about pulling it off.”
The play never should have reached epic status. Shanle had the best shot at stopping the play for a short gain, only to see Lynch bounce away and step past an ankle tackle attempt by Will Smith.
About eight yards past the line of scrimmage, Remi Ayodele and Darren Sharper both slipped off Lynch as he accelerated for a first down. At midfield, Jabari Greer tried grabbing Lynch from behind, but slid all the way down to his feet and Lynch scampered away.
Then came the stiff-arm that current Oakland cornerback Tracy Porter won’t ever be able to erase. Porter first engaged Lynch around the Saints’ 38 but made the mistake of trying to tackle him around the shoulders. Lynch’s stiff-arm sent Porter sprawling five yards.
By that point, Lynch’s teammates Mike Williams, Tyler Polumbus and Sean Locklear had caught up. Even quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was there. Lynch avoided Alex Brown’s attempt from behind at the 15, then cut back to the middle of the field behind a block from Polumbus and finally stepped over Roman Harper at the goal line, leaping backward into the end zone.
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