On a clear Sunday afternoon in Oakland, California, there was thunder at the Coliseum. It wasn’t in the air, but on the field in the form of Marshawn Lynch.
Oakland’s homegrown star showed up in a big way en route to the Raiders 45-42 overtime victory against the Cleveland Browns. Lynch finished the game with 130 yards (6.5 yards per carry) on the ground, the most he has recorded in a single contest since Nov. 9, 2014. It was the way he fought for those yards that reminded fans why he is called ‘Beastmode’.
“Lynch is unbelievable,” head coach Jon Gruden said of his workhorse back after the game. “What a great competitor.”
There is no doubt we are seeing vintage ‘Beastmode’ this year. He is running hard, he is playing explosive, and evoking memories of his heyday.
Lynch ran for his 300th yard in week nine last season. He has 300 yards through four weeks and now ranks fourth in the NFL. He also has more receiving yards through four games than his first ten games in 2017.
While he is probably physically in better shape than last season, it has been his heart that has showed, his unwillingness to let the first defender bring him down. It was that drive and passion that led the Raiders to victory.
“He runs hard,” Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson said. “He knows how to get into that second level and finish. He never goes down initially. He tries to get to that second level and keep pushing.”
The 32-year-old running back fought valiantly for every yard against the Browns, often dragging multiple defenders to gain a first down. As the game progressed and began to look as if it might slip out of the Raiders hands, a 52-yard run in the third quarter by Lynch brought the team back to life.
“Every run is so different,” explained fellow running back Jalen Richard. “I’m just seeing so much different stuff from him. The dude is unreal. Hall of Famer.”
Usually viewed as a quiet player that does his talking on the field, Lynch made an exception in the second half giving the offensive line a rare pep talk.
“Well, Marshawn [Lynch] only talks when stuff is really bad,” said Bruce Irvin who has been teammates with Lynch back to their time together in Seattle. “So you know I’ve seen him rally the guys together a couple times in Seattle, but you know when the Beast needs to say something, he’s going to say it. Obviously it worked, we got out of here with a win.”
That speech combined with Lynch’s play on the field and his sheer will carried the Raiders to their first win of the season.
“He was saying basically that we’re putting the game on our backs,” rookie offensive tackle Kolton Miller added. “They’re running behind us, it starts with us, he gave us really encouraging words. He said ‘I’m going to run with y’all’ and that really boosted us.”
Boom, boom, boom. The sound of ‘Marshawn Lynch continually plowing through defenders echoed throughout Oakland Coliseum, followed by a roar from the crowd.
“For him to consistently run the way that he does, give the effort that he does – he’s a hall of famer,” said Derek Carr. “The guy is one of the best running backs to ever play this game. You can’t tell a football story without Marshawn Lynch.”