‘Beast Mode’ highlights Raiders game against Seahawks
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland may always be home for Marshawn Lynch, but Seattle was the city that truly made him a star.
There was the “Beast Quake” run that set the tone for the Pete Carroll era with the Seahawks. The Skittles that rained down on the field after his big runs. The ferocious running style that inspired teammates.
As much as those Seattle teams were known for the “Legion of Boom” secondary and Russell Wilson’s escape acts, the “Beast Mode” runs helped Seattle establish its dominance. That’s also been the missing ingredient for Seattle these past few years after he retired and then came back with his hometown Oakland Raiders.
The Seahawks (2-3) will get an up-close look at Lynch again this week for the first time since he retired following the 2015 season. They travel to London to face the Raiders (1-4).
“He looks like he got faster,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “When he was here he wasn’t breaking away from people. Now it looks like he can break away from people. He looks quicker. Looks stronger. It’s going to be a dope challenge if they give him the ball a lot. They haven’t really been giving him the ball all that much. I don’t know if it’s because of scores or whatever, but definitely know he’s going to want to run the ball against us, so got to be ready.”
Lynch is still going strong at age 32, ranking ninth in the league in rushing with 331 yards and still doling out the punishment on defenders that has him headed on a path that Raiders coach Jon Gruden believes will end at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s a credit to him that he can play like that week in, week out, year in, year out with that style of play,” Gruden said. “He’s not looking to go out of bounds. He’s looking to make yardage after contact in every situation. I respect it about him. I think the league respects it about him.”
The powerful runs and prodigious production come with a price at times. Lynch also has some quirks that can drive some in the organization nuts. There was the time in Seattle when he wore holdout safety Kam Chancellor’s jersey to practice, declared himself out of a playoff game just before the team left for Minnesota, or his refusal to do interviews despite NFL rules requiring them.
The Raiders have seen that side of Lynch as well. He got ejected from a game last season when he ran on the field to try to break up a fight between close friend and then-Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters and his own Raiders teammates. Lynch got suspended for a game for shoving an official.
Then last week, in a scene that must have been all too painful for the Seahawks to watch, he tossed his helmet in frustration after teammate Derek Carr threw an interception instead of handing Lynch the ball on the 1-yard line. That brought back memories of the Seahawks’ fateful decision to throw a pass from the 1 at the end of the Super Bowl in 2015, only to have Malcolm Butler intercept Wilson at the goal line to give New England a Super Bowl title that Seattle had been poised to win.
Despite those moments, Lynch is adored by his teammates for his honesty.
“We loved that,” Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said. “He was beloved in this locker room because of that. He would speak how he felt. If he was wrong, he would come back and apologize to the people he wronged, for the most part. You respected him for the man he was, not trying to act like something he wasn’t. He didn’t pretend with you guys in the media and come back to the locker room and act different. He was consistent in who he was throughout.”
Lynch lasted just one more injury-plagued year with the Seahawks that was marked by his decision not to travel to a playoff game in Minnesota because he didn’t feel healthy enough — even though he had practiced all week and was a major part of the game plan.
Lynch announced his retirement a month later by tweeting a picture of his cleats hanging from a utility wire shortly after the end of the Super Bowl, and stayed home for the entire 2016 season.
But when the hometown Raiders announced plans to move to Las Vegas in 2020, Lynch was motivated to come out of retirement to play in Oakland.
After a sluggish start in his return, Lynch is back to his old form. His 832 yards rushing since Week 12 last year are more than anyone other than Todd Gurley, and he still runs with the same ferocity he did as a much younger back.
“It just comes down to him wanting to impose his will,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “He’s not going to quit at any moment on the field. I think that’s just Marshawn. He’s not going to quit on anything or anybody, especially his teammates. I think you see him running the same in the first quarter as the fourth quarter. ... Marshawn is going to try and outlast people. That’s what makes him special.”
Lynch’s best game of the year came two weeks ago against the Browns when he ran for 130 yards to give the Raiders their only win. It was his most prolific output since rushing for 157 yards in the NFC championship game against Seattle in January 2015.
That’s the kind of performance that has both his current and former teammates believing his career should end at the Hall of Fame.
“What he means to the game and he kind of reminds me of an Allen Iverson type where he changed a culture, changed the way people viewed the media, through the media, he’s himself,” Wagner said. “He’s a player that like you’ll never see again in a generation, so I think that represents a lot. I think by the end, all said and done, he’ll have the numbers to get in for sure.”
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report