It’s no secret that Marshawn Lynch is one of the best RBs in the NFL, and all of his attributes were on display during the Seahawks’ comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Lynch and Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to a top ranked rushing attack in 2014 that rushed for over 400 more yards than their closest competitors.
While the Packers kept Lynch very quiet in the first half, they simply could not contain him in the second. He ran all over the defense, breaking into the secondary on multiple occasions. To do this, he used not only his incredible power as a runner but also great agility and his elite jump cut to slash the Packers’ run D. Let’s take a look at the tape to see exactly how Lynch used his moves effectively in this game:
2-5-SEA 36 (Q2, 7:45) M.Lynch left tackle to SEA 39 for 3 yards (L.Guion).
I picked this run not because it was particularly successful but rather because of the “never give up” attitude that Lynch displays at pretty much all times. Here, the Seahawks are employing their zone blocking scheme, slanting to the right. You can very clearly see the entire line shift towards the right, with the exception of the TE who pulls across the formation to seal off the backside DE.
Unfortunately for Lynch, the blocking at the point of attack is downright bad and there ends up being a blob of bodies. This forces him to cut it back. One of Lynch’s best attributes is his jump cut, and it’s on display here as he seemingly teleports about two body widths to the right on the cutback. Still, though, he runs into trouble as Clay Matthews is right in his face. While known primarily for his power running, Lynch also has great agility. He uses that agility to make Matthews and the next LB, Barrington, miss before Letroy Guion is able to drag him to the ground.
3-2-SEA 39 (Q2, 7:08) (Shotgun) M.Lynch left tackle pushed ob at GB 47 for 14 yards (S.Shields).
This play shows patience, vision, and explosion from Lynch. He gets the ball off of a read option handoff, and hesitates for just a moment. This not only allows him to find the correct hole, but also theoretically allows #77 James Carpenter to plant a block on #42 Morgan Burnett. However, Carpenter whiffs on his block. It ends up not mattering, though, because Lynch shows great burst and runs past Burnett before he can get an arm on him.
From there, Lynch has a fair amount of open space to run in. In typical Marshawn Lynch fashion, he finishes the run tough even though he goes out of bounds, lowering his shoulder into the DB and making good contact before getting carried out of bounds by his momentum.
2-2-SEA 30 (Q3, 10:18) (Shotgun) M.Lynch left tackle to SEA 41 for 11 yards (S.Richardson; L.Guion).
This is yet another run showcasing Lynch’s strength. First of all, I find the angle he takes through the hole to be perfect. If he’s further outside, AJ Hawk might have had a chance to make a play on him, but instead he ends up having to dive and flail his arms. Then, he gets stood up by three defenders and somehow still manages to pick up five extra yards despite a gang of defenders on him. This run truly shows impressive power from Lynch.
2-2-SEA 49 (Q3, 9:02) M.Lynch right tackle to GB 39 for 12 yards (L.Guion).
On this play the Seahawks are running out of 20 personnel, or 2 RBs and 0 TEs. This means they have three WRs split off the screen, and really only 6 blockers for an inside run. Fortunately, the Packers respond to the Seahawks spreading them out by only putting 6 defenders in the box, so it’s an even matchup. The Seahawks then run a zone scheme to the right, with a fullback lead. Lynch has excellent vision, and is able to find a hole between Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers. Daniels grabs his jersey, but Lynch also has excellent balance so he stays on his feet and accelerates forward. Letroy Guion failed at the point of attack and got pushed back, but he did a good job of staying with the play and he ended up making the tackle. Once Guion took out his legs, Lynch also did a great job of falling forward to maximize yardage.
2-30-SEA 41 (Q3, 7:34) (Shotgun) M.Lynch left tackle to GB 48 for 11 yards (M.Burnett).
This is after Wilson took a really long sack, so it’s second and 30. This kind of limits the options for the offense. So the Seahawks decide to go with a draw to Lynch to hopefully recover a chunk of the yards lost. He starts outside, makes a nice change of direction, and then not only drags a guy who is hanging on to his foot for a few yards before discarding him, but also continues to try to power forward for about another second before being finally thrown to the ground.
This didn’t get the Seahawks close to a first down, but it made the 3rd down situation significantly more manageable.
1-10-SEA 27 (Q4, 9:34) (Shotgun) M.Lynch right tackle to SEA 40 for 13 yards (S.Barrington).
I apologize for the skip in this one, but there’s a skip in the film which I’m getting from NFL Game Rewind. Anyway, from a read option fake Lynch presses the inside before cutting back out to split two defenders, who he leaves on the ground grasping at air. Then as he gets towards HaHa Clinton-Dix he slams right into him. That’s the kind of hit Clinton-Dix was supposed to lay on the RB, not the other way around. That just shows Lynch’s awesome physicality on the football field.
3-6-SEA 44 (Q4, 8:22) (Shotgun) M.Lynch up the middle to GB 45 for 11 yards (S.Barrington; H.Clinton-Dix).
This play once again shows the awesome power of Marshawn Lynch as a runner. The Seahawks are running an inside zone run to the left this time, and Datone Jones just embarrasses JR Sweezy. Really, this should blow the play up in the backfield because Jones has a free shot at Lynch. However, Lynch uses his awesome jump cut to get himself out of trouble by warping away from Jones’ attempt to tackle him. Jones is only able to get his arms on Lynch, who shrugs it off. After making Jones miss, Lynch runs into his own lineman but is still able to get a push even with five defenders trying to stop him (well, he did have help from his offensive lineman) and ends up with his sixth carry of over 10 yards on the day.
2-10-GB 35 (Q4, Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to M.Lynch ran ob at GB 9 for 26 yards.
On this play, Lynch is running what is known as a “wheel route” where the RB runs to the sidelines outside the outermost receiver and then turns upfield. The man out wide at the top of the screen runs a curl route. This adds positively to the play on two levels. First, it gets his man, the CB, to run towards the LOS so he has to completely change direction if he wants to follow Lynch. Second, he acts as a roadblock to the LB who is in man coverage on Lynch. As you can see, the LB has to navigate around him to chase Lynch, and at that point he’d already lost. It’s not a pick play per se, but it has a similar effect. This leaves Lynch absolutely wide open, and it’s an easy decision for Wilson. Just barely stepping out of bounds is all that prevents this from being a life giving TD for the Seahawks, which they will get a few plays later.
1-10-GB 24 (Q4, 1:33) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Lynch left tackle for 24 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
This would be Lynch’s last long run and his most important carry on the day, as it was the go ahead TD for the Seahawks. This play is well blocked by the Seahawks. Lynch stumbles a bit going through the hole but he is able to clearly maintain balance. Then, he used his vision to first cut up inside to avoid a tackle from Micah Hyde and then he kicked it back outside to avoid Sam Shields. Once he was past those two defenders, he strolled into the endzone and put the Seahawks on top.
In his game against the Packers, Marshawn Lynch turned on Beast Mode in the second half. He had 7 carries of over 10 yards in the half and racked up over 100 yards on 16 carries. Many of the carries displayed the attributes that make him a top RB in the NFL: his power, vision, agility, and tenacity. He put the Seahawks in the lead with flair on a 24 yard TD run and was perhaps the biggest piece on offense that lead to an amazing Seahawks comeback.