Where Were You When The ‘Beast Quake’ Shook Seattle?

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Every now and again there’s a moment in sports that transcends the game. These moments last for only seconds but are incredibly memorable – instantly cementing in our mind the details of where we were, who we were with, and how it felt to be a witness to greatness.

On January 8, 2011 the Seattle Seahawks played a Wild Card playoff game against the statistically superior and reigning Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Despite finishing the season with an uninspiring 7-9 record, the Seahawks won their conference and hosted the 11-5 Saints at CenturyLink Field (then, Qwest Field).

To watch this sacred playoff game, a group of friends and I went to a Fox Sports Grill (now closed) in downtown Seattle. Among my friends, I’ve always been the one worried about arriving early enough to get a good seat or table, but when we descended the staircase from street level down to the subterranean taproom and turned toward the jumbo TV, we could see that all the tables were taken.

Heartbroken, we settled at a nearby railing and steadied ourselves for the long stand ahead as the game kicked off. Then, almost immediately, in a horrible/spectacular turn of fate, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception that sent two gentlemen at the best table into a downward spiral of frustration, anger, and despair. To my utter shock, these paper-thin “fans” exclaimed something melodramatic about Hasselbeck and walked out, leaving their table for the vultures.

Sitting at our new table, we quickly ordered food and drinks and began watching a regular, albeit a seasonally significant game play out. The Hawks did their part, keeping pace with the Saints through the first and second quarters and shutting them down in the third, but then in the fourth quarter, magic happened right before our eyes.

Joining the Seahawks mid-season, RB Marshawn Lynch had been a contributing player in the backfield all season, but it was at this moment that he ascended to icon status.

Starting from the left hash, the Hawks called a power run, utilizing FB Michael Robinson’s blocking to open a running lane. However, Lynch changed his tack, pushing past two of his own blockers, through a Saints linebacker and into the secondary. And that’s when things really took a turn toward excellence.

First, Lynch evaded two Saints defenders, ran through a tackle from behind, threw off would-be tackler Tracy Porter with a truly awesome stiff arm. Next, he rumbled down field, stepping through two more unsuccessful tackles, and jumped backward into the endzone in dramatic fashion. (read: crotch grab)

Watching Lynch chug his way 67-yards down the field in real time was something to behold. He literally disappeared for a moment before reappearing in the secondary, and despite rewatching the run dozens of times, I still can’t figure out exactly how he did what he did.

In the Fox Sports Grill, the room exploded in a thunderous roar of cheers, applause, and synchronized-rapture. It was the sound of multiple minds being blown in spellbinding harmony. Later we learned that our reaction had been mirrored and amplified by the shared celebration of 67,000+ fans at the stadium. Their combined elation registered a low-level earthquake on a nearby seismic device that ultimately resulted in this love letter’s namesake: Beast Quake.

One week later, amidst a flood of Beast Quake media attention, the Seahawks quietly lost to the Chicago Bears, ending their season. But the quake had been felt and Lynch had arrived. He went on to deliver 1,000 yards rushing for the next four seasons in a row, helping lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl of their own.

I remember the day after Beast Quake, I spoke to my brother on the phone. He too had seen it on TV and was equally amazed by the marvel of the moment. He said, “we’re going to remember that play for the rest of our lives” and he was right, we have.

Where were you?

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About Author

Jon Aiken

Born and raised in Seattle, Jon developed a deep love for the Mariners and Seahawks and continues to watch, analyze, and discuss them on a daily basis. As a professional advertising copywriter, the blending of these two loves (sports/words) seemed like a natural creative evolution. He recently moved south to Tacoma, fully embracing his new hometeam, the Rainers.

3 Comments

  1. I was at the Comet when it was still a dive bar. There was probably only 10 or 15 of us drunks and punks there but everyone stood up on their table and made a racket after this play. Most of us just came to the bar to drink beer that day but we all left awed and ready to elect Lynch mayor of Seattle.

  2. You really captured the power of this monumental moment and thankfully did not catch my embarrassing and hysterical actions when the beast hit the end zone Thanks for bringing back a great memory.

  3. I was in a bar in Greenpoint Brooklyn with a handful of Hawk Faithful. We went to this bar every Sunday the Hawks played and drank our way through the season. I remember that just before beast quake, I felt that the game was slipping away from the Hawks. The had been punching above their weight class all game, but it looked like the Saints were finally getting their offense together and might pull off a win. I couldn’t believe it when Marshawn broke through the first pile of tacklers. Even a 20 yard run at this point would have been meaningful. But when he just kept running, knocking would be tacklers to the dirt, all the way to glory… I lost my shit. Someone at the table shredded a dozen bar napkins and threw the make shift confetti everywhere. We were ecstatic. The bartenders who had been with us through what was unarguably a rough season to this point comped us a bottle of Champaign. Victory never tasted so sweet. God bless the 2010 Seahawks, and Marshawn Lynch. That was the greatest individual effort I have ever seen, and I still get goosebumps when I rewatch it on highlight reels, listening to the radio call with Warren Moon’s “Woo” and Steve Raible’s “Touchdown Seahawks!” Go Hawks!

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