Sunday, January 9, 2011
Breaking down Marshawn Lynch's big run
By Mike Sando
Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run to clinch Seattle's 41-36 wild-card victory against New Orleans is the play NFL fans everywhere are buzzing about. Twenty-four things to know about the run that will give Seattle's No. 24 a special place in NFL playoff lore:
Seattle's Marshawn Lynch breaks away on his 67-yard TD run Saturday against the Saints as QB Matt Hasselbeck celebrates in the background.
There was nothing fancy about the personnel or formation.
Seattle lined up in its base offense with two backs and one tight end, John Carlson. The strong side was to the left, and that is where Lynch ran initially.
Seattle had been favoring zone runs all game, but this play -- "17 Power" -- featured man-on-man blocking. Players said Seattle had not run the play all game.
With this run, the Seahawks averaged 10.5 yards per rush on 10 carries from base personnel against New Orleans, according to my charting.
Lynch might never have escaped the backfield if fullback Michael Robinson, lined up in the offset-I formation, hadn't slammed into linebacker Jonathan Vilma, creating space.
Even so, linebacker Scott Shanle should have made the tackle about two yards into the run. No one blocked him. Count this as missed/broken tackle No. 1.
Left tackle Russell Okung blocked defensive end Will Smith, but Smith came off the block in time to trail Lynch and get both hands on the running back's hips at the Seattle 35-yard line. This would be missed/broken tackle No. 2.
Spencer blocked Darren Sharper on the second level, but Sharper disengaged in time to make contact with Lynch eight yards downfield. Ayodele also made contact with Lynch at this point. These would be missed/broken tackles Nos. 3 and 4.
Cornerback Jabari Greer caught Lynch at midfield along the right hash, but Lynch ran right out of his grasp. Missed/broken tackle No. 5.
Porter caught up to Lynch at the New Orleans 36, but he made a bad mistake. Porter tried to tackle Lynch high. Lynch, cradling the ball in his right arm, discarded the 186-pound corner with a left hand straight out of a George Foreman fight. Porter tumbled nearly five yards downfield, landing on his right shoulder and rolling on the ground. This was missed/broken tackle No. 6.
Perhaps sensing Lynch could go all the way, multiple teammates rallied to the cause. Polumbus and receiver Mike Williams were first on the scene. Locklear and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck were gaining as Lynch crossed the 30.
Hasselbeck did not really block Brown, but he slightly impeded the big defensive end. Asked later if he were "looking" to block someone, Hasselbeck deadpanned that he was looking, but just looking.
Brown dove at Lynch's feet and just missed along the right sideline at the 16. This was missed/broken tackle No. 7.
Polumbus was at the 12 by now and in perfect position to shield Harper as Lynch cut back toward the middle.
Greer had hustled back into the play by now, but Hasselbeck seemed to know Lynch would score. The quarterback raised his right arm as Lynch crossed the 4-yard line, with Greer a step or so behind.
Harper had ducked under Polumbus at this point, but he dived and missed at the 2. This was missed/broken tackle No. 8. Lynch sidestepped just enough to make sure Harper would not get him.
Carlson, Spencer and Obomanu were also inside the 5 at this point.
Lynch dove onto his back in the end zone and popped to his feet as Carlson, Hasselbeck, Polumbus, Spencer, Williams and Obomanu swarmed him.
This was the longest run of Lynch's career by 11 yards and it gave Seattle its first 100-yard rusher of the season.
Not a bad way to punctuate one of the bigger playoff upsets in NFL history.