Lynch, Peterson the motors that make their offenses run

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comNovember 17, 2013 

Since 2011, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leads the league with 3,853 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns.

BRUCE KLUCKHOHN/USA TODAY SPORTS

RENTON — Lewd and loud music pounded out from Marshawn Lynch’s locker as Seattle fullback Michael Robinson tried to explain two of the best running backs in the NFL, Lynch and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.

“They both are very explosive runners,” Robinson said. “They get 25, 30 yards down the field like that.

“The difference is, I look at AP, I call him a color runner. He’s talked out of going certain places because of color. He feels and sees color. Marshawn is more of a cutback, cut-against-the-grain, lower-my-shoulder, get-north type of guy.

“Not saying AP doesn’t do that. He’s trying to get out, break out, explode trying to get to a touchdown as opposed to Marshawn is going to go right through.”

The two will be at CenturyLink Field at 1:25 p.m. Sunday when the Seahawks host the Vikings.

Their production and size are similar. Other things are not.

The dreadlocked Lynch is from a hard-scrabble section of Oakland. The clean-shaven Peterson is from Palestine, Texas, a city of less than 20 square miles and 20,000 people stationed between Dallas and Houston. Each October, the Hot Pepper Festival is a hit there.

Their base physical numbers — Lynch is 5-foot-11, 215 pounds to Peterson’s 6-1, 217 pounds — are close. But their frames are not alike, and those differences influence their running styles.

Peterson is more upright when he runs. He’s just 2 inches taller than Lynch, yet those 2 inches make him look markedly different than Seattle’s back. He’s built in a

more linear way, which could well be the explanation for his superior top-end speed. Peterson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at the NFL combine.

He also looks like someone a sculptor carved, then took the leftover clay and just decided to attach it in the form of defined muscles.

Lynch is shaped more like a sugar cube on top of two dice. Square and broad-shouldered, he’s a compacted battering ram with nimble feet.

Lynch also has a gymnast’s balance. Defenders often fail to knock him off his center of gravity in tight spaces.

“Marshawn is going to make people miss in a phone booth,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.

Each has used his gifts to develop into the top two backs in the NFL the past three seasons.

Since 2011, Peterson leads the league with 3,853 yards rushing. Lynch is second with 3,665 yards. Peterson has a league-leading 33 rushing touchdowns. Lynch is second with 30. Lynch has played four more games during that time period, however.

Both carry freak-of-nature stories. Lynch’s was spun when he rumbled through the New Orleans Saints for a 67-yard touchdown in the 2010 postseason that led to seismic activity being recorded around CenturyLink Field during the celebration.

Peterson’s came last season, when less than a year after tearing two knee ligaments, he ran for more than 2,000 yards, was named NFL MVP and finished 8 yards short of the single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.

What happened last season at CenturyLink Field helped keep Peterson from the record.

It wasn’t what the Seahawks did, but more what Minnesota didn’t do.

After Peterson gained 144 yards on 12 carries in the first half, he was given the ball just five more times in the second half for another 38 yards. Peterson finished with a then season-high 182 yards on just 17 carries.

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said the Seahawks began to put eight or nine defenders in the tackle box, so the Vikings thought passing opportunities would be there.

Peterson was diplomatic, but he did not know why the Vikings changed.

“I always want the ball more,” Peterson said then. “That’s my mentality, especially when I’m hot. I go out and do my job no matter what the play call is. That’s all I can do.”

Lynch would understand that line of thinking.

Sunday, at what is expected to be a cool and wet CenturyLink Field, the two will be the starting points for each team’s offense. The Seahawks have had trouble against the run lately, though they appeared better last week against a putrid Atlanta rushing offense that is last in the league.

Success against Peterson will be a proper measurement of how the run defense has improved, if it has.

And, no matter what Lynch does, the Seahawks will back their guy.

“Nobody like Marshawn,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Marshawn’s the best in the business.”

Peterson might have something to say about that.

SEAHAWKS GAMEDAY

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-7) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-1)

1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field

TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.

The series: Seattle leads, 7-5. The last time the teams met the Seahawks won, 30-20, on Nov. 4, 2012 in Seattle.

What to watch: A top-end special-teams encounter. The Seahawks’ punt coverage unit is allowing a stunning 1.4 yards per return. To amplify the authority of that number, consider this: Carolina’s Ted Ginn Jr. returned Jon Ryan’s first punt of the season 10 yards. In the 38 punts since, opponents have gained 5 yards — total. Minnesota counters that with two of the top kick returners in the league. Rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL with 35.2 yards per kick return, and cornerback Marcus Sherels leads the league with 16.3 yards per punt return. ... Seattle’s key punt-coverage man Jeremy Lane missed Thursday’s practice with a thigh problem, but coach Pete Carroll said Lane will be good to go along with several other players: center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung, activated Saturday, and right tackle Breno Giacomini are all expected back on the line. Defensive end Red Bryant, fullback Derrick Coleman and wide receiver Percy Harvin should be ready to play, too. ... Cornerback Brandon Browner (groin) is out. ... Seattle cut quarterback B.J. Daniels to make room for Okung on the 53-man roster.

The pick: Seahawks, 37-17.

Prime numbers

MINNESOTA

No. NamePos.Ht.Wt.Year

7 Christian PonderQB6-2229third

Had a good game last week, but non-throwing shoulder is sore.

28 Adrian PetersonRB6-1217seventh

Well, duh.

50 Erin HendersonLB6-3244sixth

Sixth in the NFL with 87 tackles.

69 Jared AllenDE6-627010th

Seahawks will have their original tackles in place to counter Allen.

84 Cordarrelle PattersonWR6-2220first

The new Percy Harvin for Minnesota.

SEATTLE

No. NamePos.Ht.Wt.Year

11 Percy Harvin WR5-11184fifth

Expected to make Seahawks debut against his former team.

24 Marshawn Lynch RB5-11215seventh

Trying to make a statement with Peterson on the other sideline.

68 Breno GiacominiRT6-7318sixth

Back for the first time since injury Sept. 22 against Jacksonville.

76 Russell OkungLT6-5310fourth

Pro-Bowl tackle returns for his first game since injury Sept. 15.

86 Zach MillerTE6-5255seventh

Shut out against Atlanta, he should have chances against Vikings.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas

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