'Beast Quake' aftershocks still felt

Marshawn Lynch

Many of those who were on the field that day swear they remember the ground quaking beneath their feet when Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch went "Beast Mode" on the New Orleans Saints.

And technically, they're not exaggerating. Seismic activity was actually recorded outside the Seahawks' home stadium during Lynch's stunning 67-yard touchdown run that clinched a 41-36 playoff victory over the reigning Super Bowl champions on Jan. 8, 2011.

In truth, it was Seattle's raucous "12th Man" crowd that shook the stands enough to produce those vibrations in the ground. But the way that run is remembered, it's almost as though Lynch was shaking the earth himself with each thunderous step -- like he was Paul Bunyan in football pads -- while he tossed aside a series of Saints defenders on his way into the end zone.

"Best run I've ever seen in my life," Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung, one of Lynch's linemen that day, said last week. "It was very exhilarating. I kind of stopped and watched at one point, just in awe. I was amazed."

Like any good modern-day tall tale, the video has become a YouTube sensation. And you'll see the highlight countless times Monday, leading up to the rematch between the Seahawks (10-1) and Saints (9-2) on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

You'll see Lynch emerging from a scrum at the line of scrimmage, bouncing free from his first broken tackle. Then you'll see him gain momentum as he bursts through a series of hapless defenders, hopelessly trying to bring him down with an arm tackle or a leg grab. Then you'll see the stiff-arm -- or was it a left hook? -- that sent cornerback Tracy Porter reeling and cemented Lynch's run as one of the all-time classics.

But if you weren't there to experience it firsthand, well, then, you'll just have to settle for the legend.

"If you wasn't in this stadium to see it and to hear it, I feel that you're bein' shortchanged by watching the video. It was that damn loud," Lynch said recently when he opened up to ESPN's "E:60" for a rare interview. "That was Beast Mode."

To try to capture that visceral experience, ESPN.com contacted 14 players who were on the field -- and one All-Pro quarterback who was on the sideline -- for one of the greatest plays in NFL playoff history.

Not surprisingly, some of the memories were fonder than others.

"It was a really cool play I'll remember the rest of my life," said former Seahawks left guard Tyler Polumbus, now with the Washington Redskins. "That city erupted and literally caused an earthquake. It was an amazing experience."

"I cannot let that play die down," said former Saints safety Darren Sharper, who is now an analyst for the NFL Network and still gets teased about the play. "It just keeps coming back -- Beast Mode -- like a thorn in my side. Like a bad rash that keeps coming back."

It feels like ancient history now, almost three years later. But at the time, Lynch was still considered a bit of an underachiever through his first four NFL seasons.

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