Beast Mode means more than just running over people, as this play proved.
No. 5 – Marshawn Lynch’s 40-yard TD in the NFC Championship Game.
Seattle had a third-and-1 at the San Francisco 40, trailing the 49ers 10-3 in the third quarter. The play was designed to be an off-tackle handoff to the right, but when Lynch took the ball from Russell Wilson, the Beast saw another beast right in his face waiting to make the play – 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.
In a split second, realizing Willis was there, Lynch saw an opening to the left and a hole he could run through, so he turned in the other direction.
It was a little surprising that the play was designed to go to the right because the Seahawks had an extra blocker on the left side of the line. As they had done several times earlier in the game, Seattle inserted rookie offensive linemen Alvin Bailey (a mountain of a man at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds) in as a third tackle (or tackle-eligible, meaning he could catch a pass as a tight end).
Left tackle Russell Okung blocked down on the inside while tight end Zach Miller was sealing off the outside. San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith made a diving attempt at Lynch’s ankles, but Lynch ran right by him.
Lynch was clear and headed up field. Bailey had raced downfield and would seal off 49ers safety Donte Whitner from getting to Lynch, who bumped into Bailey and turned on the jets to the right side of the field. Lynch showed his speed and outran the 49ers' secondary to the goal line, even after he almost tripped at the 10.
The play showed two things about Lynch that people sometimes overlook – his natural instincts to improvise and finding the opening at the line of scrimmage, and his acceleration in the open field.
Lynch ended the game with 109 yards rushing on 22 carries, helping the Seahawks secure a 23-17 victory.