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The Marshawn Lynch Run: Play of the Year? January 10, 2011

Posted by dczarum in Uncategorized.
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Note: This article is published in The Argosy newspaper and as such is property of Argosy Publications Inc.

 

Anybody who argues that it’s too early to make “Play of the Year” claims in the second week of January clearly wasn’t watching the NFL playoffs this past weekend.

In the closing minutes of an improbable first round matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, running back Marshawn Lynch erupted for an incredible 67 yard touchdown run that sealed the victory for the underdog Seahawks in arguably the biggest upset in NFL playoff history.

The Run, as its being succinctly referenced by now, was the defining moment for a team that was all but left for dead against the defending champion Saints; Seattle had won the woeful NFC West division with a 7-9 record, becoming the only team to ever finish the season with a losing record and make the playoffs.

The Saints had just scored ten points in a minute and a half and were poised to complete the comeback, down 34-30 with 3:37 left in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks offense- which had given up the ball on three straight possessions-was on the field looking to run down the clock and avoid blowing a hard-earned lead when it happened: Lynch emerges from the line with five Saints defenders falling off of him, sheds a couple of tackles, jukes to the sideline, delivers The Stiff Arm From God to cornerback Tracy Porter, a stutter step here, a key block there… Nine seconds and 67-yards later, Lynch is doing the Nestea Plunge into the end zone as millions of viewers begin to pick themselves up off of the living room floor. Devoid of circumstance The Run is jaw-dropping, but when you factor in everything that was riding on it, the play has to be considered an all-time great.

And then there’s Marshawn Lynch. With the departures of Pro-Bowl linebackers Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher along with cornerback Nate Clements to free-agency following the 2006-2007 season, there was an obvious need for the Buffalo Bills to address defense at the upcoming NFL Draft. So it was a bit surprising when, with the 12th pick in the first round, the Bills passed on defensive stars like Darrelle Revis (14th overall), Lawrence Timmons (15th), Leon Hall (18th), Aaron Ross (20th), Brandon Meriweather (24th), and Jon Beason (25th) to select Marshawn Lynch from the University of California. Lynch, the second running back selected in the draft behind Viking’s All-Pro Adrian Peterson, was tasked with bringing the sad sack Bills back to NFL relevancy.

As the focus of Coach Dick Jauran’s run-heavy offense, Lynch thrived in his first two seasons, amassing over 1,000 yards and at least seven touchdowns in both years. He even made the Pro-Bowl in 2008.

However, that summer Lynch found himself at the centre of a scandal in which he was found driving with a loaded gun following a hit-and-run incident. He received misdemeanor weapons charges and was suspended by the NFL for the first three games of the 2009 NFL season. The gun charge proved to be the first in a string of bad breaks that included a nagging ankle injury and the emergence of Bills’ running backs Fred Jackson and rookie C.J. Spiller. It seemed as though Lynch was firmly en route to the NFL’s running back graveyard, home for the throngs of players who enjoyed flash-in-the-pan success playing the most physically-demanding (and shortest tenured) position in all of sports.

With his role in Buffalo drastically reduced this season, the Bills traded him to Seattle for a pair of draft picks. Acquired as insurance for the oft-injured Seahawk running backs, Lynch was solid when called upon during the regular season, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. And when the Seahawks face the Chicago Bears in Sunday’s NFC semi-final, Marshawn Lynch will be starting in the backfield.

All it took was nine seconds and a Run for the ages to revive a player’s career and revitalize a franchise that has been on a steady decline since appearing in the Super Bowl in 2006. And for that, The Run gets my vote for 2011’s Play of the Year.

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Comments»

1. Big Game Weekend « Aaron Hill’s Notebook - January 11, 2011

[…] have a lot more talent than they’ve shown recently, step up to the challenge. I have been impressed by Lynch’s running in previous games, and it’s terrific to see him break out and help win the game. I think […]


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