BY Art Thiel 07:57PM 01/19/2015

Thiel: What if Lynch had been, uh, penalized?

Marshawn Lynch’s latest post-TD crotch grab went undetected by game officials. But imagine what would have happened had refs called a 15-yard penalty on PAT attempt.

After scoring a go-ahead touchdown Sunday, Marshawn Lynch got away with something for which he was previously fined by the NFL. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Lost in the civic orgasm that followed the Seahawks’ latest hailing of Mary against the Green Bay Packers — we’ll never get cheese from Wisconsin in this state again — was an episode that escaped the attention of officials:

What would have happened if RB Marshawn Lynch had been penalized for touching his personal self after his late-game touchdown gambol that put the Seahawks ahead?

At the end of a 24-yard run with 1:25 remaining in the NFC Championship, Lynch was so free of defenders that he slowed as he crossed the goal line, turned his back to the nearest official and did the by-now-traditional grab of his crotch while facing the scattered entrails of the Packers defense. The score put Seattle up 20-19 in what became a 28-22 win.

The same gesture Dec. 21 after a spectacular, 79-yard touchdown run against Arizona, in which Lynch did a backward dive into the end zone and grabbed himself mid-flight, drew a fine of $11,050 for unsportsmanlike conduct. But in both cases, no penalty was called on the field. In 2010, when Lynch introduced his personal custom at the end of the immortal “Beastquake” run, there was neither penalty nor fine.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called by officials on the field typically draws a 15-yard penalty, enforced on the next play. That would have been the Seahawks’ extra-point attempt, which in this case was for a two-point conversion.

As you may recall, the Seahawks went for two and succeeded with a most unlikely pass  — a “one-in-100″ play, as described by TE Luke Willson, after QB Russell Wilson’s wild scramble and jump-ball throw: The “2-yard Hail Mary.”

But a penalty would have created a 17-yard PAT attempt, with considerably higher odds against success. From two yards, the Packers defense would have to account for a rush option, but not at 17.

Without the 2-point PAT, the subsequent Packers field goal would have won the game.

If the NFL is consistent in its application of rules — no guarantee there — they will again fine Lynch, and issue a warning for a repeat violation. Given the NFL’s nanny-state culture, it seems likely they will tell Super Bowl officials to make Lynch’s behavior a “point of emphasis,” meaning a game penalty.

Meanwhile Monday, coach Pete Carroll righteously gushed over Lynch’s play — 157 yards on 25 carries and a 26-yard reception that would have been a TD except for barely stepping out of bounds.

He had a great game,” Carroll said. “We rushed for 143 yards in the second half. He had 120, and he was just alive – ripping. It’s been an extraordinary season that he’s put out here. He’s been so consistent for so long, and he’s been so physically right for so long.

“He looked explosive again. He looked fast. His attitude is always there. He was able to take advantage of space and sometimes no space. He just would not go down. There were a couple great team finishes, when he’s driving his legs and those guys jump up off the ground and knock the pile forward and get us four or five more yards.”

Before the Super Bowl, Carroll likely will have to have another conversation with Lynch. Perhaps he will explain it with the help of rap artist MC Hammer and his hit, “Can’t Touch This.”

Sherman, Thomas likely to play in Super Bowl

Carroll didn’t say much about the injuries to FS Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman. But and reported that Thomas dislocated his left shoulder, and Sherman had a sprained elbow. But neither injury appeared to threaten their appearances in the Super Bowl Feb. 1.

After the game Sherman, who played the fourth quarter virtually one-armed, said, “I will be out there. I promise you that.” Thomas saw it as a learning experience: “It will teach me something for later in my career, how to play hurt.’’

Teams won’t release injury reports until next week, but Thomas had to go to the locker room to get a harness for his ailing shoulder.

“Both of those guys were in dire straits: ‘Could they play?’ ’’ Carroll said. “They played their hearts out. Their courage and toughness and standing up for who they are and what they mean to this team to try to finish this game, and not allow it to be any other way — it was so impressive.”

Britt, Johnson likely to return

RT Justin Britt (knee) and backup SS Jeron Johnson (elbow) both sat out Sunday, but Carroll sounded as if both will be available in Phoenix.

Britt “was really close (to being able to play),’’ Carroll said. “We could have dressed him for the game, but it just felt like the right thing to do (was to make him inactive). He should be fine, but we will find out.’’

Britt, a rookie who started every game, was replaced by second-year man Alvin Bailey, who made his first start at right tackle. Johnson’s absence when Thomas was out meant DeShawn Shead, normally a cornerback, saw action Sunday at free safety.



  • dinglenuts

    Hammer. Pants. Hammer pants!

    That is all.

  • Kirkland

    Another rules question: If Lynch deliberately slowed to a crawl before scoring, in an attempt to wind down the clock, would he have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct? I don’t recall a Packer within 10 yards of him by the time he neared the end zone, so if legal, slowing down would’ve been a good strategy.

    • Eric K

      no penalty for stalling, but you’d only be able to save a few seconds, D was only a few yards away and they get to you quick

      • art thiel

        I’m with Eric. A second or two at best would have been gained.

        • Eric K

          somebody asked Carroll if he should have taken a knee at the 1 to run more plays and eat the clock. Carroll was polite enough to not call the questioner an idiot.

          As many teams have found you can never assume a gimme 1 yard TD, bad snaps, fumbles, missed block, great play by a D linemen. You take the TD when you can.

  • Super bowl or bust

    Although Sherman’s and Thomas’s injuries won’t prevent from playing, how close to 100% will they be in 2 weeks? Tom Brady is practicing every pass play to the right side of the field.

    • art thiel

      Can’t know two weeks out. But Belichick misses nothing.

    • ll9956

      The same thought occurred to me. The Hawks need them not only to be able to play, but to be able to play up to their ability when they are not injured. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they will reach 100%.

  • Matt712

    And here I grew up thinking that grabbing one’s crotch is one of the most sportsmanlike things a guy can do. Or is that just for baseball players?

    On another Lynch note: I was hoping the entire team would take the field wearing gold cleats.

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  • Guest

    Crotch grab. My my. That’s almost as “unsportsmanlike” as, oh I dunno, playing with deflated footballs. Just sayin’.

    • art thiel

      NFL justice is always swift and certain. Except for domestic violence.

  • Jamo57

    I suppose the league will see that as “unsportsmanlike conduct”, but look on the bright side! At least it wasn’t……um………”excessive celebration”.

    • art thiel

      Illegal use of hands?

      • Cameric

        Offensive holding.

        • Dave Mauro

          Man zone in the end zone.

  • Big

    Yeah, that would have been the crotch grab to end all crotch grabs. Gold Shoes, the man with the midas touch (fines). To many unintended consequences (penalties). Time to tighten the chin strap and tie your shoes in a double knot and just play football. ML keep it real in the SB.

    • art thiel

      I’m sure the Seahawks explained the risk to the team ti Lynch before he went on the field with the gold shoes. Same for any SB stunts.

  • dinglenuts

    While the title of this article is perfectly good on its own, it sounds even better if you read it (to yourself, probably) in Beavis or Butthead’s voice.

    • art thiel

      Good to keep fine company. But hey, Marshawn started it.

      • Dave Mauro

        He said “but”, he he.

  • PokeyPuffy

    One thing i wondered on this play: did green bay allow Lynch to score to ensure they get enough time remaining to drive and kick the field goal? Seattle was in prime position to run out the clock with their scoring drive, and were moving the ball effectively…

    BTW this tactic was deployed by Green Bay in SB 32 with holmgren at the helm. 1:45 left on the clock when they got the ball but they couldn’t answer with the needed td.

    • Eric K

      not from the 24 yard line, that would be nuts, not to mention way unconventional, you never see a team that is ahead do that, usually it is a team behind by 1 who figures at least they’ll get the ball back down 8. McCarthy is very much go with convential wisdom, to the point that all his by the old school book choices probably cost them the game.

    • 1coolguy

      Read Hugh Millen’s column – he talks about it.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Well said. The non-play that got the monkey off John Elway’s back.

    • art thiel

      No. They couldn’t anticipate that from 24 yards. Anyone hitting him has a chance to force a fumble.

  • 1coolguy

    Remarkable Rodgers didn’t pass to the receivers covered by Thomas and Sherman after they were injured. It just was weird, as though he didn’t see what everyone watching on TV saw, that these two were in real pain and were definitely limited. I thought he’d be like a shark with blood in the water.

    • Vandy

      Or that his coaches didn’t see it, either.

    • art thiel

      Another of several odd things about McCarthy’s game management.

  • 1coolguy

    Gosh, and I wonder why his only endorsement is from a sewer company? He is a great player but his antics have cost him millions in endorsement money.

    • Vandy

      Heaven forbid that a genuine badass, actually behave like a badass… However, don’t forget–he promotes Skittles, too!

      • jafabian

        More like he likes them and Skittles bandwagons on that.

      • art thiel

        NFL doesn’t promote badassery, although it’s happy to cash in on it.

    • art thiel

      He likes money, but apparently likes his individualism more.

      • Big

        ML works for money, but money doesn’t make him. There is no I in team, had to say it.

    • Pixdawg13

      I don’t think that company would appreciate your calling them a sewer company–they do plumbing. Now, were it one of the ‘rooter’ companies, you’d be closer.

      Also, of course–you have no clue whatsoever whether his “antics” have cost him endorsement money, or if he simply chose not to do them.

  • jafabian

    Can’t defend Beastmode on this. He knows the rules and if anything it’s just not proper to do so on TV. Just like swearing on TV is’t allowed. Evidently the fine that comes with this means little to him. I’m curious to see how he handles this.

    It’s amazing that the Packers never took adantage of the injuries to Sherman and Thomas. Either they didn’t know or didn’t want to risk being wrong on the severity. But to never even test them surprised me.

    • art thiel

      When gestures and fashion put the team at a disadvantage (lost yards), it ceases to be funny.

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    Here’s an alternate idea of what’s going on: The NFL (often clueless, but not dumb) notices that ML likes to express himself by touching himself. A Double-Secret Memo goes out to the officiating crews: “Let it go. We will nail him with fines on the back end.”

    Why? Imagine that the officials had called unsportsmanlike conduct. Then the viewing public would have been subjected to replay after replay, in slo-mo and hi-def, of the offending action. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would have had several awkward moments explaining what, exactly, ML did to deserve such a penalty. After all the discussion the week previous about possession of the football and making a “Football Move,” the viewers would have to consider this decidedly “Un-Football Move.”

    The NFL is certainly not squeaky-clean, but that’s their aspiration. They’ll deliver the smackdown/fine to ML mid-week during the lull between the current euphoria and the Hype that is The Super Bowl.

    • notaboomer

      i think we have a wiener err winner.

  • matsuji

    Given New England’s love of rules lawyering and Lynch’s gold soled shoes, I wonder if we should expect New England to protest his shoes during the Super Bowl? Maybe try to sideline or distract Lynch with some petty demand that he not be allowed to play with an “unofficial uniform”?

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Our Oakland USA product has such a inner bad boy streak in him. The naughty one was sly to turn away from the ref and momentarily shield the zebra from his antics. As Art alluded to nothing good could have come from that risky maneuver.
    There is a massive list of what ifs to this game…. like what if the guys with Canadian ties had not come up big in this one?
    When you think about it Canada was well represented in this win…Seattle passed up a 3 and passed for 6~Jon Ryan got the job done-of course we needed the
    added points in the end.Chris Matthews had a brilliant rookie season
    with the Winnepeg Blue Bombers(and his success up there directly led to
    his chance to make this club)…he doesn’t get that on side kick and we aren’t talking about this win… Then Luke Willson? Still shaking my head
    how hard he fought for that 2 point conversion which we had to have to
    get us into overtime… our Cannuck Luck was shining brightly for us
    There was way more what ifs than just the move from the defiant one.
    We are now just left to ponder What If Seattle wins another SB against all odds?What if?
    Go Hawks!

  • Dave Mauro

    Hey Art, is it the Seahawks game strategy to just try to keep the game close for the first half, then pour it on in the second? I mean it seems to always go that way, and I find myself wondering if that’s intentional; Pound away at your opponent for two quarters and soften them up, then use that speed and quickness to run away with the game.

  • REG1946

    Only Marshawn knows for sure if he did, or did not, directed the assumed gesture at the Packers sideline upon scoring. After so many media folks jumped on the “band wagon” I watched the game again. There were multiple other instances when he “adjusted” his privates after plays. I suppose one could assume some of those other gestures were directed at his fellow Seahawks since he was facing them at the time. Personally I choose to believe he was dealing with an uncomfortable situation with that portion of his protective equipment.

  • rodrig

    Wouldn’t the penalty be assessed in the ensuing kickoff, NOT the extra point attempt?