NFL fines Seahawks’ Lynch $11,050 for antics during TD celebration

RENTON — Richard Sherman thinks he could have spared Marshawn Lynch about $11,000.

The league said Merry Christmas to Lynch, in the not-so-merry way it has often interacted with him.

The NFL fined the unique-in-many-ways running back $11,050 for grabbing his crotch during his back-to-the-goal-line plunge into the end zone during Seattle’s game last weekend at Arizona. It was the very Lynchian punctuation to his epic 79-yard touchdown run as the Seahawks crushed the Cardinals. Game officials did not penalize him for the stunt.

It’s the second time in just over two months the league has fined Lynch. It docked him $100,000 for not talking to the media in the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium immediately after Seattle’s loss at Kansas City in October.

Pro Football Talk, a division of NBC Sports, first reported the latest sanction Thursday morning.

Lynch plowed through Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Rashad Johnson at the Seahawks’ sideline in the most impressive portion of his run already known as “BeastQuake 2” around Seattle. Teammates marveled in the locker room after last Sunday’s game that it was the best run they’d ever seen.

This week Sherman was asked if he would have been able to stop Lynch from scoring. The Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback smiled.

“I would have given a very valiant effort,” Sherman deadpanned.

“Me and Marshawn have these discussions daily about whether I am able to tackle him or not. But I guarantee you in that situation if I didn’t get him down I would have gotten him out of bounds.

“You know, he was an inch from out of bounds,” Sherman said, laughing. “All you had to do was push him. He’s got the best balance ever, but, you know, full speed, 200 pounds, what I got would have gotten him out of bounds.”

So you are saying you would have tackled him?

“So I am saying there’s a chance,” Sherman said, smiling again.

“BeastQuake 1” was Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run with a similar cut right like last Sunday’s run and included him running over Saints during Seattle’s 2010 home playoff win over heavily favored New Orleans. Local seismologists noted the noise inside CenturyLink Field during the play made the earth around the stadium shake.

Lynch ended that epic run with the same back-first, crotch-grabbing jump into the end zone. It is believed the NFL did not fine him for that four seasons ago.

In a rare interview, in the fall of 2013 for a feature on ESPN, Lynch said: “That was the stamp. The statement. With all that (stuff), you gotta finish it off somehow.”

The Seahawks were wowed like everyone else by Lynch’s latest romp. But they knew what was coming as he neared the goal line.

“Shock and awe,” is how Sherman described the sideline’s reaction during the run.

“And then expecting him to keep going, and then more shock and awe. And then anticipation of what he was going to do at the end — and then joy.

“There’s a certain flair to the way he enters an end zone.”

He’s done that a career-high 16 times this season, 12 rushing and a career-best four scores receiving. Lynch has 1,246 yards rushing entering Seattle’s home game Sunday against the St. Louis Rams (6-9), when the Seahawks (11-4) could win the NFC West and clinch home-field advantage throughout next month’s conference playoffs. The yards are the third-most in his eight-year career and 11 behind what he gained last regular season. His career high is 1,590 yards for the Seahawks in 2012.

Lynch made his fifth Pro Bowl this week. Sherman thinks Lynch deserves much more.

“If he’s not in the race for MVP it’s like, what else does he have to do?” Sherman said in the locker room minutes after Sunday night’s win in Arizona. “The man … if that’s not an MVP run right there — you can show that highlight over and over and give him the MVP, and I don’t think that anyone would argue it.”

Sherman continued his campaign for Lynch on Tuesday. And his stumping has worked before; he spent much of this season extolling how valuable teammate Bobby Wagner was to the league’s top-ranked defense, then Tuesday the middle linebacker made his first Pro Bowl.

“Marshawn Lynch is playing M. V. P.-caliber football right now,” Sherman said Tuesday, emphasizing the “MVP” while looking directly into the rolling video cameras to accentuate his endorsement. “I remember the last time a running back got it (Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson in 2012). He had 2,000 yards and broke close to a record — but he also had 14 touchdowns.

“Marshawn has 16 touchdowns for the MVP race. But it seems like it’s a quarterbacks’ race now. So it doesn’t matter if he ran for a million yards and a million touchdowns.”

A running back has won NFL MVP 18 times in the 57 years of the award — including the back to whom Lynch’s punishing running is most compared, Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers in 1979. The MVP award is presented by the Associated Press and is voted on by selected sports writers in each league market at the end of the regular season but before the playoffs. The winner is announced the day before the Super Bowl, which this season will be played on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

Lynch finished with 113 yards on 10 carries last Sunday against the Cardinals despite being two plays late getting onto the Seahawks’ sideline to begin the game and then missing the first quarter. The team announced during the game that Lynch had an upset stomach. After the game offensive line coach Tom Cable, who has been close to Lynch for a while, said the running back was dry-heaving during the first half and that he’d never seen Lynch so sick.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said this week Lynch has had issues with nausea before games for years.

“More than a couple. There’s been a handful of times where he can’t quite get right at the start of the game,” Carroll said. “It’s something you can’t perfectly time — it happens when it happens.

“We recognize he’s got his little ritual to get ready, and sometimes it doesn’t line up just right.”

Extra Points

Carroll gave the team Christmas Day off, just as he did 12 months ago when the holiday was on the Wednesday before the season-ending home game against the Rams. The stakes were the same then as now: Seattle needing a victory to win the division and the NFC’s No. 1 seed. That worked out OK for the Seahawks; they routed St. Louis 27-9 and won two home playoff games before winning the Super Bowl. … The only other time Seattle has made the Super Bowl, at the end of the 2005 season, was also the only other time it’s owned the top conference seed for the postseason. … Sherman spent his Christmas with “just a big dinner and handing out presents. We had a fun event (Monday) for my foundation (Blanket Coverage, the Richard Sherman Family Foundation) and we were able to start a couple of people’s Christmas early for some very deserving families. But mine (was) going to be more relaxed.”

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