In 2006, Seattle traded its 2007 first-round pick to the Patriots for Deion Branch. New England drafted Brandon Meriweather with that pick. Meriweather was elected to the Pro Bowl last season and then benched this season, which tells us something about the Pro Bowl and something about how hard it is to evaluate defensive backs. NFL Draft Scout lists Meriweather's Combine forty as 4.56, which is a bit below average for a safety but not poor.
I mention all this to frame the following play:
1-15-BUF 22 (5:09) (Shotgun) 23-M.Lynch left tackle to BUF 25 for 3 yards (31-B.Meriweather).
Buffalo is in a spread formation. Three wide receivers, shotgun with Marshawn Lynch to Placeholder's left. The tight end motions right -- snap. The right guard and tight end pull left. Lynch takes the ball, fakes inside hand off and chugs off left end with blockers and a big hole through the second level. Meriweather catches him from behind for a gain of three.
That might sound bad but I omitted an important detail: Meriweather is executing a safety blitz. He wraps around right end, behind the line of scrimmage and catches Lynch from behind with a lunging tackle. One day not so long from now, we will have NFL/FX, and we'll know exactly what speed Meriweather was able to build to in pursuit and what speed Lynch was able to build to rushing left, but until that day, it's up to our brains.
So here's the perhaps unresolvable thought puzzle: Did Meriweather make a spectacular play aided by a prescient play call and executed through hustle and awareness, or did Lynch get caught in the blocks, undermined by his own so-so acceleration. I can't say for sure. I definitely lean towards the former, as a running start is typically enough for Brian Russell to track down Chris Johnson, but, that said, boy would this have been an incredible play if Lynch was able to outrun the backside pursuit and exploit his second-level blockers. Outrunning backside pursuit is soon to be job number one for Lynch.
2-12-BUF 25 (4:27) (Shotgun) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass short middle to 23-M.Lynch to BUF 27 for 2 yards. PENALTY on BUF-74-C.Green, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at BUF 25 - No Play.
High snap, Lynch runs from left of Fitzpatrick to in front and receives a front pitch and barely has a chance to turn up field before Ron Brace is storming the back field and attempting to tackle him around the shoulder pads. Lynch works around it and into the hole but is pinched by Mayo and Arrington.
The run is called back on a hold.
2-22-BUF 15 (3:58) 23-M.Lynch right guard to BUF 19 for 4 yards (59-G.Guyton, 31-B.Meriweather).
Nice block by the fullback McIntyre, and Lynch's rush lane looks clean. He hits it, and the play is kind of a scrum so it's not easy to pick out the width of the hole and the stability of the blocks protecting it, but he hits it and is stopped when Gary Guyton loops around and tackles low and Meriweather fills from in front.
(Reception, redirect, run after catch by poor, poor Roscoe Parrish)
1-10-BUF 39 (2:35) 23-M.Lynch left guard to BUF 44 for 5 yards (27-K.Arrington).
I would say this is exactly the type of rush that so intrigued Seattle.
Buffalo stretches right and gets good push, creating a cutback lane left. Lynch starts right but bends left and it's fluid and quick and Lynch squares and bursts off left end like something big is about to happen. Kyle Arrington closes from the left flat and ankle tackles Lynch. He falls forward for five. Lee Evans badly botches his block. Even occupying Arrington could have sprung this run, but Evans does not even accomplish that.
Anyway, the bend on the redirect, the fluidity, quickness and burst he shows towards and around left end, is something no current Seahawks back is capable of.
2-5-BUF 44 (1:56) 14-R.Fitzpatrick pass incomplete short right to 38-C.McIntyre.
Fitz and Lynch sell play action well enough, but Rob Ninkovich spies it the entire way, shoots off right end and charges at Fitzpatrick forcing the throw away.
[C.J. Spiller subs in, because, you know, he's the third down back by title. He blows his block, badly, Guyton charges through, strikes Fitzpatrick and forces the incomplete pass. Ballsy trusting a rookie with third-down duties; ballsier still trusting him to block.]