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On January 8, 2011, during a Wild Card Playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch made a 67-yard touchdown after escaping nine tackles, to help the Seahawks win the game. The resultant racket from celebration by the Seahawks fans was so vigorous that it registered on a nearby seismograph. This resulted in the play being christened the “Beast Quake,” a term borrowed from Lynch’s “Beast Mode” nickname.
Buildup to the Beast Quake
The Saints came into the 2010/2011 season as defending Super Bowl champions, having beaten the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. They finished the regular season second in the NFC South division with an 11-5 record. The Seahawks meanwhile had posted a losing record of 7-9, but still won the NFC West division, the first time a team was reaching the playoffs with a losing record.
In their earlier regular season meeting, the Saints had beaten the Seahawks 34-19, a fact that gave New Orleans the edge in many people’s view. Lynch had joined the Seahawks in the course of that season from the Buffalo Bills after the Bills had had enough of his off field legal troubles and dropping productivity. The Seahawks had instantly warmed up to him due to his industry in the tackle and hard running.
The Beast Quake Game
The Saints opened a 10-point-lead early in the game through a Garrett Harley field goal and a Heath Evans touchdown. The Seahawks responded with a touchdown from John Carlson but the Saints rekindled their earlier lead through Julius Jones’s 5-yard touchdown. Carlson then made his second touchdown to cut the Saints’ lead to 17—14. Olindo Mare tied the game with a 29-yard field goal, and then Brandon Stokley scored a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the second quarter to give Seattle their first lead of the game.
Within the remaining time, the Saints scored a field goal, which sent the teams into the half with the scores at 24-20. On the opening drive of the second half, the Seahawks extended their lead to 11 through a Mike Williams touchdown and a Mare field goal further to 14. The Saints slowly crawled back to 34-30 thanks to a Jones touchdown and another field goal from Hartley. The Seahawks now faced a 2nd and 10 at their 33-yard line with 3.38 left in regulation.
Lynch emerged from the ensuing scrum, bounced free from the first tackle, then he gathered speed as he burst through a series of Saints defenders desperately trying to bring him down. On the next encounter he stopped cornerback Tracy Porter’s challenge with a stiff-arm on the way to a historic touchdown that is considered one of the best in history. As he crossed into the end zone, he held the ball on the right hand while holding his crotch with the other in what became a signature image of the touchdown.
The move was heavily aided by poor Saints defending, with the Saints seemingly unsure whether to end Lynch’s with a pileup or individual pursuing. At least seven New Orleans defenders got to their hands on Lynch but none of them could complete a successful tackle.
Aftermath of the Beast Quake
The Saints struck back through Brees but they failed on the 2-point conversion to keep the scores at 41-36. It was later reported that during Lynch’s run, a seismograph at the nearby Pacific Northwest Seismic Network Station had picked up activity similar to a small tremor originating from Qwest field. It was determined that crowd activity during the play rather than activities on the pitch had caused the tremor.
During the NFC divisional playoff, the Chicago Bears eliminated the Seahawks with a 35-24 score. In 2014, during a game against the Arizona Cardinals, Lynch scored an even more impressive touchdown, this time a 79-yard touchdown evading even more tacklers than he did in scoring the Beast Quake.