Surrounded by a gaggle of reporters at his locker, Lynch repeated, over and over again, “My young life did it,” when asked about his 51-yard touchdown run, before zigging when the encroaching media zagged.
Lynch grabbed the notice taped to his locker and showed it to the horde. It was a notice for Lynch to report to a collection area immediately to give a specimen because he was selected for a random drug test.
“I’m sorry, though, look,” Lynch said, holding up the paper. “It’s either this, or that, and I can’t afford that. I apologize. But if you do not understand what this is, it’s when you put your ding-ding sauce out and give them a sample.”
And with that, the enigmatic Lynch was off, avoiding questions as deftly as he did New York Giants defenders all day long in the Raiders’ 24-17 victory that pulled them into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers at 6-6.
Lynch, whose quotes in his prime are the stuff of legend, is also rounding into shape on the field as the Raiders enter the quarter-pole of the season.
Indeed, this was the Lynch the Raiders were hoping to acquire when they traded for the retired back last offseason. The mind-blowing 51-yard touchdown up the gut set the tone on Oakland’s third offensive play from scrimmage. The Beast Quake-like 20-yard catch and run not only lost Collins but took a few other Giants for the ride to help close out the game late in the fourth quarter. And his 101 yards rushing marked the first time he broke the century mark since Oct. 22, 2015, for the Seattle Seahawks at the San Francisco 49ers.
“He’s a do-it-all guy,” said Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin, who played with an in-his-prime Lynch in Seattle. “Run the ball, catch it out the backfield, block. He’s finally getting his legs back underneath him, and it's showing. You can tell.”
NaVorro Bowman has a different perspective, given that he went up against Lynch at the height of the Seahawks-49ers rivalry earlier this decade.
“I looked at the stats,” Bowman said. “I said, 'Oh, he’s still got it.' To see him running the way that he’s running for so many years, I know exactly what that defense is facing. That’s a hard tackle."
Running back DeAndre Washington agreed.
“He’s getting stronger as the season goes on,” Washington said. “With more carries, he is just getting stronger. It’s hard to tackle that man for four quarters, you know what I’m saying? He is going to wear you down, regardless if he is getting 2 yards or the 50-yarder like he busted today. He is going to wear guys down, and at this point in the season, we are really going to need him.”
Lynch, coming off his one-year retirement, got a breather of his own in serving a one-game suspension in Week 8 for making contact with an official.
He has rushed for more yards in four games since (292, on 68 carries for a 4.3 yards-per-attempt average) than he did in his previous eight games combined (266 yards, on 72 carries for a 3.7 average). He now also has four touchdowns in his past four games.
“We talk about it all the time -- the run game is my best friend,” said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. “Whenever we can just get that going and have the run game rolling like that -- any quarterback loves that. If you can hand the ball, under four minutes, three times in a row and just get a first down, that’s a lot less pressure on the quarterback and the receivers. I don’t know a quarterback that wouldn’t want that.
“Really, Marshawn is just taking over. Today he had 100 yards, which is awesome. Anytime you can do that, the ball is in your hands. Anytime you can run the ball efficiently, you’re moving the chain -- so that just helps us in the pass-game element of it.”