Marshawn Lynch isn’t much for fielding questions off the field. But Thursday, he emphatically answered them on it.
Earlier this week, Percy Harvin was asked, one too many times, about his level of excitement over getting onto the field, unencumbered by injuries.
“I’ve played football before, so this is not my first time playing,’’ he reminded, gently but pointedly.
Lynch and Harvin entered this season surrounded by an air of mystery, with the dynamism of the Seahawks’ offense hanging on the outcome.
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Would Lynch, at age 28, begin to show the decline that inevitably strikes running backs, particularly ones who run with his violent determination?
And could Harvin, a triple-threat blur of constant danger, stay healthy enough for the Seahawks to exploit his blinding speed?
In the Seahawks’ 36-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers in a raucous season opener at CenturyLink Field, the answer to both trended positively for Seattle. And though the Seahawks’ offense sputtered at times, the presence of a fit Harvin and vintage Lynch bodes extremely well for the future.
As Harvin himself gushed, “We have so many weapons, man.”
Lynch came to camp late, and barely ran the ball in exhibition games, the latter not unusual, as the Seahawks wisely choose to limit his hits.
But that just added to the intrigue, because the Seahawks’ offense remains predicated on Beast Mode being Beast Mode. Until he showed that he could still plow through traffic, just a hint of doubt lingered.
It didn’t take long Thursday to realize that Lynch hasn’t taken a step back and is running with the vigor of a rookie.
“I actually told him, he looked like he had a burst this year I didn’t see last year,” Harvin said. “He’s in tremendous shape, man. He’s a pro when it comes to being ready to work when his number’s called. Hats off to him.”
Lynch finished with 110 yards, including two touchdown runs imbued with his trademark defiance. He simply was not going to be stopped, scoring from 9 and 3 yards.
“He’s what carries that offense, to me,’’ said safety Earl Thomas. “He’s a staple, just hard-nosed football, fighting for every yard. He has a little smooth with his running style, too. You can just see it, his attitude — it mirrors the way he plays football.”
Added Packers defensive back Tramon Williams, in a statement repeated often over the years: “Even when we did get to him early in the down, he still bled us for more yards. That’s what he’s capable of doing.”
For Harvin, the question has never been his playing ability, but rather, his availability to play. Last year, after being acquired from Minnesota with much fanfare, Harvin’s Seattle debut was delayed by a serious hip injury. He returned Nov. 17 to show tantalizing glimpses of his explosiveness against his old Vikings team, but then landed on the sidelines again until the playoffs.
He returned for the playoff opener against New Orleans, then missed the NFC title game with a concussion. But in the Super Bowl, Harvin showed definitively what they had been missing, with an 80-yard kickoff return and team-leading 45 rushing yards.
Just as important, Harvin showed the Seahawks what they had coming if only he remains healthy.
And that’s what Harvin has done — so far. This will be monitored on a game-to-game basis, of course, but Harvin has marveled all preseason about how he’s never felt better in his career.
“Not since I came to college,’’ he reiterated after Thursday’s game.
The Seahawks utilized him accordingly against the Packers, making him a key component of their offense both in the running game with the fly sweep, good for 41 yards on four carries, and as a receiving threat (a team-high seven catches for 59 yards).
Throw in a 31-yard kickoff return, and Harvin’s impact was tangible on all three of his platforms, with 160 all-purpose yards.
His burst is close to unprecedented in the NFL, making him nearly unstoppable when he gets free. The Seahawks are still figuring out ways to get him into open space and let him do his thing – a prospect that tantalizes coach Pete Carroll.
“We have a million thoughts. It’s not hard,’’ he said. “The ideas aren’t hard. It’s getting those things prepared and unveiling them when we get to it. … He makes everything look good. He’s a wonderful mix of player, so physical and runs the ball so well, as well as receiving it.”
Carroll characterized Harvin as “built of steel” — and they hope it’s the sturdy variety. This game was a reminder just how much his presence opens up the field for everyone else, particularly Lynch.
“Percy makes everyone else around him better,’’ Thomas said. “When Percy’s running, everyone’s going to put their attention on him. …That little formation they run where Percy runs, and Marshawn cuts — you don’t know who’s getting the ball, man. That stuff is happening so quick. I know it’s very, very hard on defenses.”
One of the Seattle story lines this year was supposed to be the phasing out of Beast Mode, as he succumbed to the ravages of age and the reality of a salary the Seahawks couldn’t fit into their pay structure much longer.
But as Thursday’s game showed, the Lynch era is not over yet. And with Harvin around to put a scare into opposing defenses, it might not even have peaked.
|Lynch, Harvin supply the offense|
|The Seahawks always count on Marshawn Lynch, and he didn’t disappoint in the Seahawks’ 36-16 season-opening victory over the Packers. Receiver Percy Harvin, who was injured and missed almost all of the regular season last year, also got into the action Thursday against Green Bay.|
|Player||By the numbers|
|Marshawn Lynch||20 carries, 110 yards, 2 touchdowns|
|Percy Harvin||7 receptions, 59 yards; 4 carries, 41 yards|