|Date||January 8, 2011|
|Favorite||Saints by 10|
|Announcers||Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan|
The Beast Quake was an American football play that took place during a 2011 NFL wild card playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the visiting New Orleans Saints, then the defending Super Bowl champions. The play occurred in the fourth quarter, when Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch broke nine tackles during the course of a 67-yard touchdown run that ultimately provided the winning margin. The play's name comes from Lynch's nickname, "Beast Mode," and the fact that, during and after the play, movement from Seattle fans jumping in celebration was so intense that it registered on a nearby seismograph.
The Saints came into the game as the 5th-seeded wild card in the NFC. Although they were the Super Bowl XLIV returning Champions, and held an 11-5 record for the season, they had finished second in the NFC South division behind the 13-3 Atlanta Falcons. In contrast, the Seahawks had won the NFC West division with only a 7-9 record, making them the first team to reach the NFL playoffs with a losing record through a full season. This fact generated much discussion throughout the season about the fairness of such a team hosting a playoff game. The two teams had previously met during Week 11 of the regular season in New Orleans, with the Saints winning handily, 34-19, causing many to speculate that the rematch would be similarly lopsided.
Two early Seahawk miscues enabled the Saints to build a 10-point lead. First Olindo Mare kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds, giving New Orleans the ball at their 40-yard line. New Orleans then drove to the Seahawks' 8-yard line, but had to settle for a Garrett Hartley field goal after Reggie Bush dropped a pass on third down that could have kept the drive going. Then three plays into the Seahawks' drive, Matt Hasselbeck's pass went through the hands of receiver Benjamin Obomanu and into the arms of defensive back Jabari Greer, who returned the interception 10 yards to the Seattle 35. New Orleans subsequently drove 35 yards in nine plays, aided by a third down pass interference penalty on Walter Thurmond in the end zone, and scored with Drew Brees' 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback Heath Evans, giving them a 10–0 lead.
Seattle fullback Michael Robinson returned Hartley's short kickoff 18 yards to the 43-yard line, and the Seahawks struck back with a 57-yard drive that ended with Hasselbeck 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Carlson. The Saints countered as Brees completed 4 of 5 passes for 53 yards on an 83-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Julius Jones, who had been cut by Seattle early in the season, to again give the Saints a ten-point lead. But Hasselbeck led the Seahawks right back on a 70-yard scoring drive, featuring a 39-yard reception by tight end Cameron Morrah. On the next play, Hasselbeck threw his second touchdown pass to Carlson, cutting the score to 17–14. After an exchange of punts, Jones lost a fumble while being tackled by Raheem Brock that Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne recovered on the Saints' 18-yard line, setting up a 29-yard field goal by Mare to tie the game.
With 1:15 left in the second quarter, Hasselbeck launched a 45-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley, giving Seattle their first lead of the game at 24–17. But a 40-yard reception by Devery Henderson helped the Saints drive to the Seattle 3-yard line where Hartley made his second field goal to cut the score to 24–20 as time expired in the half. This was only the second playoff game in which both teams scored at least 20 points in the first two quarters.
The Seahawks increased their lead to 31–20 on their opening drive of the second half, as Hasselbeck threw an 18-yard completion to Obomanu and finished the drive with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams. Then after forcing a punt, Mare kicked a 39-yard field goal to make the score 34–20 with 9:54 left in the quarter. The Seahawks got a chance to build a three-score lead after stopping Jones for no gain on fourth down and 1 on the Saints' 37-yard line, but they could only gain a few yards with their next drive, and a delay of game penalty on fourth down pushed them out of field goal range.
New Orleans got the ball back at their 13-yard line following Jon Ryan's punt, and mounted an 83-yard drive that ended with Jones' second touchdown run of the game, making the score 34–27 with 13:11 left in regulation. Then they forced a three-and-out and got the ball back with good field position on their 44-yard line with Lance Moore's 8-yard punt return. On the second play of their ensuing drive, Brees threw a short pass to Jones, who took it 33 yards to the Seattle 23. But several plays later, Seattle's defense halted the drive at the 3-yard line, where the Saints settled for Hartley's third field goal to cut the score to 34–30. After an exchange of punts, Seattle got the ball with 4:20 left in the game. On the first play of the drive, Lynch was stuffed for no gain. The Seahawks faced a 2nd and 10 at their own 33 yard line, protecting a 4-point lead with 3:38 remaining.
With their base offense on the field, the Seahawks called "17 Power", a power run, for the first time in the game. Seattle lined up in an I formation with tight end Carlson on the left and fullback Michael Robinson offset to the left. New Orleans lined up in a 2–5 "under" front with strong safety Roman Harper crowding the line of scrimmage, putting eight defenders near the box. Hasselbeck motioned wide receiver Ben Obomanu from the right to the left. At the snap, Seattle right guard Mike Gibson also pulled to the left.
Seattle had called zone runs for most of the game, but this call required man-on-man blocking. Carlson was assigned to block New Orleans linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, while left tackle Russell Okung was assigned to defensive end Will Smith and Obomanu was assigned to Harper. Left guard Tyler Polumbus and center Chris Spencer were assigned to team up on defensive tackle Remi Ayodele and, ideally, push past him to block weak-side linebacker Scott Shanle. Robinson would push ahead and block New Orleans middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, and Gibson would be free to lead Lynch and clean up any unblocked defenders. Meanwhile, on the right side of the formation, right tackle Sean Locklear would try to cut off defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, and defensive end Alex Brown would be left unblocked on the outside.
As the play actually developed, New Orleans was effective in frustrating the blocking scheme. Dunbar pushed Carlson back and prevented Gibson from reaching the point of attack. Polumbus and Spencer were able to turn Ayodele away, but neither was able to get off the block and challenge Shanle, who correctly read the pulling guard and filled the gap. Lynch recalled, "So I see the guard coming around, and in my head, I'm thinking, backside A gap. But for some reason, it carried me to the front side." Instead of rushing behind Gibson, Lynch rushed between Gibson and Robinson, finding an unblocked Shanle at the line of scrimmage. If Shanle had completed the tackle here, he would have limited Lynch to a 2-yard gain.
Instead, Lynch bounced away from Shanle's tackle, while also running through the grasp of Ellis and Will Smith. As Lynch broke through the line, Ayodele and Saints safety Darren Sharper simultaneously dove to pull Lynch down as he ran past them but were unsuccessful. Jabari Greer then caught up with Lynch from behind and tried to wrap him up but could not hang on. Lynch then angled toward the right sideline, pursued by Tracy Porter, and shoved Porter to the ground with a stiff arm. Brown lunged for Lynch's heels but fell short. Finally, Harper, being blocked by Polumbus, attempted one last diving tackle inside the 5 yard line, but he too was unsuccessful. Already celebrating, Lynch leapt backwards into the endzone, with his right arm holding the ball aloft and his left hand grabbing his crotch, for the touchdown.
With 1:52 left, Brees struck back with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Henderson, but the 2-point conversion failed, keeping the score at 41–36. Then Carlson sealed the victory by recovering Hartley's onside kick attempt, enabling Seattle to run out the clock.
Brees finished with 39 of 60 completions for 404 yards and two touchdowns. His 39 completions set a postseason record. Jones, who became the first player ever to score a touchdown in the postseason against a team that had cut him in the regular season, rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns while also catching 6 passes for 61 yards. Hasselbeck completed 22 of 35 passes for 271 yards and 4 touchdowns with 1 interception. Lynch added 131 rushing yards and a touchdown for Seattle, who had not had a 100-yard rusher in any of their regular season games.
With the win, not only did the Seahawks improve their overall record to 8–9, but they became the first sub-.500 team in NFL history to win a playoff game as well as dethroning the defending champion Saints from further playoff contention. The play also served as something of a resurrection of Lynch's career. He had been traded to Seattle midseason from the Buffalo Bills after struggling there. As of 2014, he has rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season since 2010.
It was later determined that crowd activity and noise was so great, specifically during Marshawn Lynch's game-clinching touchdown run, that a nearby Pacific Northwest Seismic Network station registered a small tremor located at Qwest Field. With the win, the Seahawks had a 6–3 record at home for the season.
YouTube celebrity Demetry James commemorated Lynch's run with a profanity-laden commentary montage that coined the catch-phrase "Hold my dick" and gathered some 2 million views before it was removed on copyright grounds.
The following week in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs, the Chicago Bears defeated the Seahawks 35-24, the playoff debut for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who scored 4 of the Bears' 5 touchdowns, running and passing for two each - the second quarterback in NFL playoff history behind only Otto Graham  to accomplish such a feat. Lynch recorded 2 yards rushing on 4 attempts.
Beast Quake 2.0
During a 2014 game against the Arizona Cardinals on the road, Lynch had a similar run, beating several would-be tacklers on his way to a career-long 79-yard touchdown.
- Earthquake Game, a 1988 college football game in which crowd reactions also registered on a seismograph
- Sando, Mike (January 9, 2011), "Breaking down Marshawn Lynch's big run", ESPN.com
- Huard, Brock (January 13, 2011), Chalk Talk – Marshawn Lynch's TD run
- NFL Films, NFL Films Presents: Beast mode
- Reed, Christina (January 14, 2011), "Seahawks' Seismic 12th Man", discovery.com
- Good, Owen (August 13, 2011), "Inside the Mind of a Demetry James, Who Put the Team on Greg Jennings' Back", Stick Jockey (Kotaku)
- James, Demetry, Definition = PutDaTeamOnMyBack (Darren Sharper Hold My Dick)[dead link]
- Associated Press (January 10, 2011), "Fan reaction to Lynch's TD run shook area by Qwest Field", nfl.com
- Associated Press (January 12, 2011), "Seattle's 'Beast Mode' finally shows its teeth", ESPN.com
- Blanchette, John (January 9, 2011), "Dismissed Seahawks dethrone defending-champion Saints", The Spokesman-Review
- Brewer, Jerry (November 30, 2013), "Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Quake: 3 years later Seahawks play still reverberates", The Seattle Times
- Divish, Ryan (January 9, 2011), "In a word, Lynch was beastly", The Olympian
- Doughton, Sandi; O'Neil, Danny (January 10, 2011), "Seahawks fans' frenzy felt by seismometer", The Seattle Times
- Farmer, Sam (October 3, 2013), "Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch can take the direct route", Los Angeles Times
- Reardon, Dave (January 10, 2011), "Lynch's wild romp ranks high among all-time great runs", Star-Advertiser
- Saracevic, Al (July 10, 2011), "Marshawn Lynch polishes story of beastly TD run", SFGate
- Ufford, Matt (January 10, 2014), "The Sound and the fury: The story of Beast Quake, the greatest touchdown run in NFL playoff history", SBNation.com
- Triplett, Mike (December 2, 2013), "'Beast Quake' aftershocks still felt", ESPN.com
- Vidale, John E. (May 2011), "Seattle "12th Man* Earthquake" Goes Viral", Seismological Research Letters 82 (3): 449–450, doi:10.1785/gssrl.82.3.449
- Vidale, John (December 31, 2011), "One year ago, Seattle Seahawks 12th Man Earthquake", Seismo Blog (Pacific Northwest Seismic Network)
- Pro Football Reference box score
- NFL Videos
- Seahawks Postgame Press Conference
- Saints Postgame Press Conference
- on YouTube