SEATTLE — Few close observers really doubted that Marshawn Lynch would play in Sunday’s NFL game at CenturyLink Field.
But even the most optimistic of them must have been at least a little surprised by his production.
Listed as questionable because of a hip injury, Lynch nonetheless sparked Seattle’s sometimes ragged offense in a 20-13 victory over Tennessee.
He ran for 77 yards and both of Seattle’s touchdowns and added five pass receptions for a career-high 78 receiving yards, including a 55-yard catch and run that started the scoring drive that put the Seahawks (5-1) ahead to stay early in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t know if he was going to play today. He came in, felt good, and played a hell of a game,” Seattle center Max Unger said. “Marshawn’s a tough dude. There’s no doubt about that.”
Lynch averaged a modest 3.7 yards on 21 carries, and his longest run was 13 yards, but he got some tough yards on the ground and made some big plays through the air.
None was bigger than the 55-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With the score tied at 10, Seattle took possession at its 20-yard line after a punt. On the first play, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled to his right and then threw all the way back across the field to Lynch, who rambled down the left half of the field to the Tennessee 25.
Six plays later, Steven Hauschka kicked a field goal to put Seattle ahead, and four minutes after that, Lynch scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run to make it 20-10.
“It really wasn’t designed for him,” Wilson said of the 55-yard play. “Coming out of the huddle, Marshawn and I just talked and said, ‘Hey, you never know.’ But I wasn’t thinking it to be honest with you.
“I got space, I got away from the defensive end, and everybody was kind of covered,” Wilson said. “Sure enough, he (Lynch) comes out the backside and makes a big play for us.”
Questionable means 50/50 in the NFL, and all eyes were on Lynch during pregame warmups. He looked good enough to play, and then good enough in the game to help his team win.
“He’s a tremendous football player,” Wilson said. “He makes so many different plays for us. His effort, his knowledge of the game, is great. He’s so enthusiastic about the game. He just plays the game so hard.”