Did you see it?
I can’t stop watching it. And with every viewing, I count more broken tackles. It’s up to eight now.
We’re talking about Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run that provided the killshot in the Seahawks’ victory over the Saints in the NFL playoffs Saturday.
This would’ve been an incredible play even in preseason, or on a playground. That it came in the fourth quarter of one of the greatest upsets in NFL postseason history makes it all the better.
Unfortunately, there aren’t as many great runs from scrimmage in the NFL and college as in earlier eras. It’s because the game has changed, with a bigger emphasis on the aerial attack, including rule changes to encourage more passing.
After Lynch’s TD, I kept trying to think of other runs that might match it, especially in postseason play. The only one that came to mind right away was Marcus Allen reversing his field for the 74-yard touchdown against the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII, a tremendous instinctive play, but not the roller-coaster ride of Lynch’s tackle-busting jaunt.
Then I remembered Steve Young had a great one. He’s not a running back, and it wasn’t in postseason, but it was a thing of beauty nonetheless, a 49-yard touchdown to beat the Vikings in 1988. Young, subbing for the injured Joe Montana, eluded five tacklers and benefited from two great downfield blocks against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense.
HERE’S ANOTHER ONE not by a running back, and it’s just for 1 yard. For pure fun you gotta like William "Refrigerator" Perry, Super Bowl XX in 1986. The rout was already on, but the combination of sheer force and farce was unique and interesting.
This play was the source of some controversy, and not just because some New England fans found it disrespectful and gimmicky that the Bears gave the ball to a defensive tackle at the goal line. Future Hall of Famer Walter Payton — whom I and many others consider the best all-around running back ever — didn’t score in the 46-10 blowout, and the thought was Payton should’ve gotten the honors instead of Perry.
Right up there in historic short-yardage runs that are fun to watch is the Raiders’ Bo Jackson bowling over the Seahawks’ Brian Bosworth into the end zone for a 2-yard TD in 1987. It helped expose Bosworth as a guy who was good in college but overhyped as a pro — perhaps because the NFL had stricter testing for steroids than college.
In the same Monday night game, which was on his 25th birthday and during his rookie season in the NFL, Jackson ran for a 91-yard TD and disappeared into the stadium tunnel. Since Jackson referred to football as his "hobby," the joke was he kept running to Kansas City to report to his job with the Royals. But Bo eventually returned to put the finishing touches on Bosworth and a three-touchdown, 221-yard game.
BACK TO TACKLE busters, and yet another guy who wasn’t primarily a running back. Now, some of you will say this doesn’t really count since it was in a high school game. But it’s still a jaw-dropper and one of the greatest runs I’ve seen in person.
On the morning of Dec. 5, 2008, Dick Butkus handed Punahou’s Manti Te’o the award named after Butkus for best high school linebacker in the nation. That evening, in a state championship victory, Te’o took a handoff and broke six Leilehua tackles on the way to the most exciting 4-yard gain this side of Barry Sanders.
Speaking of Sanders, I watched video yesterday of his greatest runs, as well as those of Payton and O.J. Simpson (couldn’t find the Juice’s gallop through the puddles at the Hula Bowl on YouTube). Tremendous stuff, highly recommended viewing. As in footage of Marcus Allen, Gale Sayers, Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith, you’ll see many great moves combining speed, balance, power and, especially, instinct. But — with the possible exception of Brown — nothing where they break more than two or three tackles before speeding away to the end zone. Nothing like Lynch’s run on Saturday.
Conclusion? Defenders are faster now, but don’t tackle as well.