By Brady Henderson
Marshawn Lynch describes his tough, physical running style as “Beast Mode.”
A more fitting term for the move he put on two Baltimore defenders to pick up a key fourth-quarter first down on Sunday would be “Shake and Bake.”
Lynch ran over, through and — in that instance — around Baltimore’s defense, gaining 109 yards on a career-high 32 carries to help the Seahawks pull off a 22-17 upset win over the Ravens at CenturyLink Field. He added 58 yards on five catches, none more memorable that the final one when he juked Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson to move the chains on third down as the Seahawks were trying to bleed the clock.
“He made a great play. He made it like he was out there in the back yard playing against some of his cousins or something,” quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. “He made a great move and got the first down. That was big.
“He’s a great player. He can pretty much do it all. He can make guys miss, he can get the tough yards as we all know. But he made a great move on that play.”
Lynch caught passes for gains of 21 and 23 yards on Seattle’s second possession, setting up his 1-yard touchdown run that would be the Seahawks’ only trip to the end zone. It was his fifth rushing touchdown of the season, all coming in the last five games.
Lynch topped 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive week, becoming the first Seahawks running back to do so since Julius Jones in 2008. That’s even more impressive considering the teams Lynch did it against. Dallas had the league’s No. 4 run defense when Lynch gained a season-high 135 yards last week. Baltimore was No. 3 coming into Sunday’s game.
As usual, much of the damage was done after first contact.
“Whether he has 100 or 20 yards a game, he’s running like somebody stole something from him,” left tackle Russell Okung said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Marshawn as a runner because I know he’s going to give it his all.”
Late in the fourth quarter, a Ravens touchdown cut Seattle’s lead to five points. The Seahawks took over at their own 20, and all that stood in their way of an upset win was 5:52 and a few first downs. In the span of nine plays, Lynch carried seven times for 32 yards, picking up two first downs and another on his 8-yard catch.
“They knew we were going to run it. Everybody in the stadium knew we were going to run it, and they knew who was getting the ball,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “And we were still able to move the ball forward.”
Left guard Robert Gallery added: “When you can do that to a defense it’s obviously very satisfying.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh raised a few eyebrows last week when he told local reporters during a conference call that Lynch is one of the NFL’s top three running backs. It might have been hyperbole, but Lynch did nothing on Sunday to prove him wrong.
“Marshawn Lynch played really well, as advertised,” Harbaugh said. “He played a heck of a game.”
Miller gets on the board
Zach Miller spent most of last week in the backfield, a necessary move in order to keep Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware at bay.
After not being targeted once against against the Cowboys, the Seahawks tight end caught three passes for 24 yards on Sunday and could have had a touchdown had Jackson’s pass near the end zone not been overthrown. While those aren’t exactly the type of numbers that will get Miller back to the Pro Bowl, they’re still representative of the Seahawks’ desire to get him more involved.
“We wanted him to be more of a factor, and he was,” head coach Pete Carroll said.
Tate comes through
With wide receivers Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin sidelined due to concussions, Golden Tate came through with two key catches on the Seahawks’ final possession.
After two straight penalties — including one on Tate for illegal motion — Seattle faced first-and-20 from its own 10. Tate made a catch while running out of bounds for 10 yards on first down. Two plays later, on third-and-5, he caught a 24-yard pass up the left sideline for a first down.
“[Jackson] made a great throw and I just did the easy job — catch the ball and secure the ball,” Tate said. “We moved the sticks, and that was huge for us, I think.”
Jackson praised Tate for being prepared to step in, saying that it would have been easy to not do so given his standing on the depth chart.
“He knew the whole game plan. He knew all the different [wide receiver] positions because on a couple of plays he was at a different position, so he was able to make sure he got himself in the right position,” Jackson said. “My hat goes off to him for making those plays today.”