In Saturday’s improbable 41-36 Seahawks victory over the New Orleans Saints, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 67-yard touchdown run that might have been the most electrifying individual play in franchise history. Or maybe Seattle pro sports history. Seth Kolloen, who writes Exit 164 for Sportspress Northwest, has already dubbed Marshawn’s incredible run, in which he outmaneuvered at least six tacklers, “The Beasting.” Howie Long on “NFL On Fox” called Lynch’s run “EPIC.”
Back in 2008, The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists, authored by KJR-AM’s Mike Gastineau and Art Thiel and Steve Rudman of Sportspress Northwest, compiled a collection of “Amazing and Remarkable Plays.” If we were amassing that list today, Marshawn Lynch’s run would be at or near the top.
Where would you rank it? And what would you name the play? (think Immaculate Reception and Music City Miracle, for two). Meantime, this is how The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists saw Amazing and Remarkable plays two years ago:
17. Michael Jackson’s interception that sealed a 27-20 Rose Bowl win over Michigan in 1978
16. The game-winning play in the 1978 Apple Cup
15. Jay Buhner’s bullpen tumble, July 29, 1997: Buhner made two great plays in a 4-1 loss to Boston. Almost nobody remembers the first — he robbed Mike Stanley of a home run in the fourth inning — but anyone who saw the second recalls it. Scott Hatteberg hit a long fly to right, Buhner retreated, then retreated again, then caught the ball and tumbled — butt over teacups — over the five-foot wall and into the Red Sox bullpen, making the greatest catch of his career. “It was the kind of play outfielders always dream about,” said Buhner.
14. Ichiro in right, May 2, 2005; Ichiro in center, May 26, 2008: In the seventh inning against the Angels (2005), Ichiro chased after a Garret Anderson fly ball that looked like a sure double and maybe a home run. As Anderson’s shot neared the fence, Ichiro made a gravity-cheating scale of the wall, adjusted his body in mid-climb, then reached over the fence and robbed Anderson of a home run. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better catch,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. In the fifth inning against the Red Sox (2008), Jason Varitek drove a ball to deep center. Ichiro got on his horse and made a basket catch with his back to the plate before crashing into the wall and somersaulting. “That was one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” said Varitek.
13. Fred Couples, No. 12, The Masters, April 12, 1992: The Seattle native often called it the biggest break of my life. Fact was, though, he hit the perfect shot. After birdies at No. 8 and No. 9 put him into the lead on the final day of the Masters, Couples arrived at No. 12, which had been the undoing of several players whose shots continually plopped into Raes Creek. For a tense, few moments, it appeared No. 12 would also serve as Couples downfall. His tee shot landed on a bank inches above the creek, started a slow roll toward the water, and then stopped. The ball should have rolled in, wrecking Couples chances of winning the Masters. Instead, Couples recovered for the key par that enabled him to win his only major championship.
12. Ignition of the Mariners’ tear, Aug. 24, 1995: Ken Griffey Jr. hit 398 home runs during his first tenure with the Mariners, none more significant than his blast against the Yankees. The Mariners trailed the Angels by 11.5 games in the ALWest and seemed hopelessly out of contention, until Griffey came to bat with two outs and one on in the bottom of the ninth. Griffey’s first-pitch, two-run, walk-off homer off John Wetteland gave the Mariners a 9-7 victory that started their amazing run to the playoffs. The significance of the feat became greater as events played out, but the thrill button was pushed that day.
11. Hugh McElhennys 100-yard punt return, Oct. 6, 1951: Of the three 90-yard scoring plays that Hugh McElhenny manufactured in his University of Washington football career, this one against USC was the most unlikely. After fielding a Frank Gifford punt at his own goal line, McElhenny went sideline-to-sideline, occasionally retreated so he could go forward, knocked people down and left tacklers flailing in racing 100 yards to a touchdown. Recalled Gifford, a USC All-America and NFL all-pro, years later: “Suddenly, there was only one man between him and the goal me. And he left me flat on my face.” McElhennys 100-yard return remains the only one in Pacific Coast Conference/Pac-8/ Pac-10 history.
10. Ken Griffey Jr.’s Spiderman acts, April 26, 1990; May 26, 1995: In a 6-2 victory over New York in 1990, Griffey brought the Yankee Stadium crowd to its feet in the fourth inning when, after a long sprint from right-center, he made a leaping catch over the centerfield wall to rob Jesse Barfield of what would have been his 200th career home run. In 1995, against Baltimore, as soon as Kevin Bass sent a pitch screaming to the wall in right-center at the Kingdome, Griffey got on his horse, did a Spiderman crawl on the wall and made the catch, one of his most spectacular ever. Griffey made the snatch despite breaking his wirst, forcing him to miss 73 games.
9. Dennis Johnsons Bucks-beating bomb, April 8, 1980: With Milwaukee leading Seattle 113-111 in a Western Conference semifinal playoff game, the Sonics had one possession remaining, 70 feet separating them and the hoop, and six seconds to do something about it. All five Bucks took turns impeding Johnsons progress as he dribbled up court. None succeeded. When Johnson, a mediocre outside shooter, was 26 feet away, he launched and hit at the buzzer, giving Seattle a 114-113 victory.
8. “Everybody scores!” Oct. 2, 1995: In a one-game playoff at the Kingdome to decide the AL West title, the Mariners held a 1-0 lead over the Angels heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Mike Blowers opened with a single and Tino Martinez reached on a bunt. After Dan Wilson moved runners up with a sacrifice bunt, Angels starter Mark Langston hit Joey Cora with a pitch, loading the bases. Vince Coleman lined out to right, bringing Luis Sojo to the plate. Sojo slapped a ball down the first base line that eventually rolled underneath the bench in the Mariners bullpen. By the time the Angels dug it out, Blowers, Martinez and Cora had scored, and 52,356 fans were in full spasm. Then Sojo scored on an error at the plate by Langston, prompting team broadcaster Rick Rizzs, practically drowning in his own glee, to yelp, Everybody scores!
7. Nate Robinsons cosmic dunk, Jan. 29, 2004: The little guys epic two-handed baseline slam, coming off a back-door lob from Curtis Allen, electrified a sold-out Hec Ed and helped Washington shatter Arizona, 96-83. Then-Post-Intelligencer columnist Art Thiel had this reaction to Robinsons dunk: Every once in a while, a moment happens in a sports event that is so majestic it blows past the brain and burns right into the soul. So if he’s 5-foot-8 (in thick socks), and the rim is 10 feet, and his eyes are above it that means Oh. My. Goodness.”
6. Ichiro guns down Terrence Long, April 11, 2001: Rarely does a throw make for a defining baseball highlight, but rarely does one see a meteorite in daylight. In the eighth inning of what became a 3-0 Seattle victory at the Oakland Coliseum, the As Terrence Long attempted to advance from first to third on a single by Ramon Hernandez. After fielding the ball in right, Ichiro, just a few games into his American baseball career, unleashed a screamer that traveled about three feet off the ground all the way to third, easily nailing a shocked Long. He said, It was going to take a perfect throw to get me, and it was.
5. Steve Largents payback, Dec. 11, 1988: On Sept. 4, during the Seahawks’ season opener at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Largent ran a pass route over the middle only to get crushed by Broncos safety Mike Harden, who delivered an illegal forearm smash that caved in Largents facemask, dislodged a couple of his teeth and knocked him unconscious. The NFL fined Harden $5,000. Now fast forward to Week 15 for the Denver-Seattle rematch at the Kingdome. Early in the first half, Harden picked off a Dave Krieg pass and began running it back. As he moved from the middle of the field toward the left sideline, Harden had his eyes fixed ahead and was, apparently, the only person in the Kingdome who did not see Largent streaking across the field, bearing down on him. In a moment that still delights Seahawks fans, Largents blindside blast lifted Harden off his feet, forcing a fumble that Largent recovered. The play brought everyone in the Kingdome, save Harden, to their feet. For years afterward, NFL Films featured the play among its all-time greatest hits.
4. The Lister Blister, April 28, 1992: Every Internet video collection of Shawn Kemps greatest dunks features one he labeled The Lister Blister. It occurred in Game 3 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series in Oakland. Late in the game, with the score tied, Kemp delivered a vicious tomahawk dunk right over 7-0 Alton Lister, and then posterized the Warriors center by pointing at him. Kemp always said it was his favorite dunk.
3. Steve Emtman eats Arizona, Oct. 5, 1991: Emtman won the Outland Trophy, the Lombardi Award, was a consensus All-American and the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Two plays summarize his essence. On the first scrimmage play against Arizona, Emtman shook off a double team, broke through the line and flattened Wildcat quarterback George Malauulu before he could hand the ball off. Emtman then said to Malauulu, Ill be back. Replied Malauulu, I know. Next play, same thing. Before the third play, Malauulu called a timeout. The roar at Husky Stadium was never louder. Its ridiculous, Arizona coach Dick Tormey told reporters after the game. We think weve got the schemes to handle him and hes in our backfield the first two plays of the game.
2. The Griffey family goes back-to-back, Sept. 14, 1990: The Cincinnati Reds asked Ken Griffey Sr. to retire on Aug. 23, 1990. Instead, Griffey Sr. secured his release and latched on with Seattle. Two days after joining the Mariners, Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. became the first father-son combination to hit in the same lineup. Senior singled, then Junior singled. Two weeks later, in Anaheim, Senior took the Angels Kirk McCaskill deep in the fourth inning. Not to be outdone, Junior also took McCaskill deep, marking the first time in major league history that a father and son had hit home runs in the same major league game.
1. The double, Oct. 8, 1995: The most famous, dramatic and important play in Seattle pro sports history began to unfold in the bottom of the 11th of the final game of the ALDS when Joey Cora led off by bunting his way aboard against New Yorks Jack McDowell. After Ken Griffey Jr. reached with a single, sending Cora to third, Edgar Martinez strode to plate. At stake: Game 5 of the ALDS and maybe the future of the franchise in Seattle, especially given that King County voters rejected building the Mariners a new ballpark. Oblivious to the larger burden, Martinez promptly roped a McDowell fastball down the left-field line, sending Cora home and Griffey on the run of his life. When I saw the ball land near the line, Griffey said later, I ran as fast as I could and for as long as I could. When I got to third, Sammy (third base coach Sam Perlozzo) said, Keep going. So I did. As Griffey slid across the plate with the winning run, teammates bounded out of the dugout and piled on him, sending 57,411 fans into delirium that echoes to this day in Safeco Field, the yard that emerged from the din.