Raiders’ Lynch fac­ing for­mer team in Lon­don

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Matt Sch­nei­d­man

LON­DON — The play is fresh in every­one’s mind with Lynch fac­ing his for­mer team in the reg­u­lar sea­son on Sun­day for the first time since re­tir­ing in early 2016, es­pe­cially since it resur­faced in the Raiders’ loss to the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers last Sun­day. Sea­hawks head coach Pete Car­roll ne­glected to feed Lynch on the 1-yard line in Su­per Bowl 49 with the Sea­hawks down four to New Eng­land and un­der 30 sec­onds re­main­ing. Rus­sell Wil­son threw an in­ter­cep­tion, and Lynch was de­nied a sec­ond straight cham­pi­onship.

De­spite an un­fit­ting end to Lynch’s oth­er­wise pro­lific Sea­hawks ca­reer — af­ter that Su­per Bowl Lynch played only seven games in 2015 be­cause of a sports her­nia — his legacy lives on in Seat­tle.

“Mar­shawn and I, we were al­ways close in the sense that he’s never wanted to talk too, too much around me nec­es­sar­ily, but we also talked a lot about life and ball and ev­ery­thing else. I think that he had a lot of wis­dom in the sense of just how to do things and he was such a great team player and would do what­ever it takes,” Wil­son told Seat­tle re­porters, ac­cord­ing to The Seat­tle Times. “Those are the things that I re­mem­ber the most. He was al­ways laugh­ing. He was al­ways re­laxed, he was al­ways poised, he al­ways knew how to play the game and play the game the right way.”

Lynch’s re­tire­ment came as a sur­prise, when he tweeted a pic­ture of flu­o­res­cent green cleats hang­ing from a tele­phone wire dur­ing the Su­per Bowl in 2016. In the pre­vi­ous six sea­sons, Lynch won Su­per Bowl 48, made the Pro Bowl from 2011-14 and led the NFL in rush­ing touch­downs in 2013 and 2014. Lynch’s best sea­son came in 2012, when he was named a first-team Al­lPro af­ter rush­ing for 1,590 yards, five yards per carry and 11 touch­downs.

To Car­roll, Lynch doesn’t look too dif­fer­ent from the run­ning back he coached. Through five games this sea­son, Lynch has 331 rush­ing yards (ninth in the NFL) on 4.3 yards per carry and three touch­downs.

“I think he looks re­ally, very much the same. I re­ally like the way he is play­ing,” Car­roll told Bay Area me­dia on a con­fer­ence call. “I mean last year and this year. He looks in the same style, in the same mode, ag­gres­sive and ex­plo­sive. He’s av­er­ag­ing over four yards a carry. I think he’s do­ing pretty good.”

The Raiders have played the Sea­hawks in the pre­sea­son fi­nale in Lynch’s two years in Oak­land, but he didn’t suited up for ei­ther. Be­fore this year’s game in Seat­tle, Lynch put Sea­hawks gen­eral man­ager John Sch­nei­der in a play­ful head lock be­fore the game and was chat­ting with Sea­hawks staffers in the bow­els of the sta­dium be­fore kick­off. Sea­hawks line­backer Bobby Wag­ner, who played with Lynch from 2012-15, is eager to tackle Beast Mode for the first time.

“We fi­nally get to go against each other, so it’s go­ing to be fun,” Wag­ner told Seat­tle re­porters, ac­cord­ing to The Seat­tle Times. “... He talked so much trash. I told him if we ever go against each other I’m go­ing to make sure to hit him. And he would al­ways talk about how lineback­ers and every­one else would go low so I’m go­ing to go high on him. Not say­ing I’m go­ing to go high all game, but I’m go­ing to catch him sleep­ing for sure.”

If Lynch truly is the same run­ner, like Car­roll says, Wag­ner will have a tough task. Ar­guably Lynch’s two most mem­o­rable runs in with the Sea­hawks were dubbed Beast Quake and Beast Quake 2.0. The first Beast Quake came in the 2011 NFC wild-card game against New Or­leans, when Lynch broke nine tack­les en route to a 67-yard game-win­ning touch­down in the fourth quar­ter that trig­gered a seis­mo­graph be­cause of how much the sta­dium shook in cel­e­bra­tion. The sec­ond came against Ari­zona in 2014, when Lynch reeled off a rum­bling-and-bum­bling ca­reer-long 79-yard touch­down run.

JOSE CAR­LOS FAJARDO/TRI­BUNE NEWS SER­VICE

Oak­land Raiders run­ning back Mar­shawn Lynch (24) smiles on the bench in the fourth quar­ter against the Bal­ti­more Ravens at the Coli­seum in Oak­land on Oct. 8, 2017.

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