The consistency king
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Maybe it's because he's played his entire career within shouting distance of the Canadian border, or because he had a 3.9 ypc average in his first 73 NFL games, but Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is criminally underrated.

Perhaps Sunday's 11-carry, 128-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Cardinals will finally get him noticed, but that's not likely. The only thing anyone is going to remember from that game is the final score: 58-0. And maybe how poor Arizona's quarterback situation is.

But Lynch deserves better for his terrific run of consistency going back to Week 4 of 2011. The running back has played 25 games since then. Do you know how many weeks he wasn't a fantasy factor in that span? Two.

His numbers in that time frame -- 508 carries, 2,353 yards, 21 touchdowns -- are fantastic but it's his week-to-week invariability that's most impressive. Sure, everyone loves explosions like Sunday's three-TD game, but those 19- carry, 44-yard performances like Chris Johnson had Sunday are as damaging as the breakouts are helpful.

It wasn't always this way. Lynch ran for 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons after the Buffalo Bills drafted him 12th overall in 2007 out of California, but he needed 530 carries (4.1 ypc) to do it. He also missed four games over those two years.

Lynch had a tumultuous 2009 season in which he was suspended for the first three games after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge. He lost his job to the undrafted Fred Jackson in late November and finished with 450 yards on 120 carries. He was gone from Buffalo after four games in 2010, traded to Seattle, where he was decent but unspectacular in 12 games.

Aside from the "Beast Mode" 67-yard touchdown run that helped 7-9 Seattle upset the Saints in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, there wasn't many signs to indicate this run was coming, especially after Lynch started out with 117 yards on 38 carries (3.1 ypc) last season.

However, he's since embarked on a 25-game stretch in which he's had at least 85 yards rushing or a touchdown 23 times, including the final 12 games last season and 11 of 13 games this year.

Sunday's game against Arizona served as both Lynch's highest-yardage and his lowest-carry game of the season. He ran for 11.6 yards per carry but had a long of just 33 yards, which should tell you how dominant he was even from carry-to- carry Sunday.

Lynch is now second in the NFL in rushing with 1,266 yards this season, and third in yards per carry (4.9) among players with at least 200 rushes despite dealing with nagging back spasms all season, including Sunday when he had to exit in the second quarter before returning for more.

Despite all of these achievements, Lynch rarely gets mentioned among the top running backs in the game -- real or fantasy -- but I think I know why.

Nobody ever talks about the bus that's always on time, or the train that gets you to your destination exactly when the schedule says. We spend all our time complaining about the late bus and the delayed train.

These past 25 games, Lynch has simply been on time, week after week.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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