Raiders’ Lynch facing former team in London
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.
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.