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Friday, November 15, 2013
How do Lynch and Peterson compare?

By Terry Blount

RENTON, Wash. -- If watching great running backs is your thing, this is the game for you.

Two of the best will be on the field in Seattle on Sunday: Adrian Peterson of the Vikings and Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks.

"This is a fantastic game to watch running backs and compare the two," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. "It's kind of cool, because they're both extremely dynamic. They have so many things that they can do so uniquely."

Lynch is No. 2 in the NFL this season with 871 yards rushing a 4.6-yard average per carry and seven touchdowns. Peterson is No. 4 with 786 yards, a 4.5-yard average and nine TDs.

Seattle's Marshawn Lynch
Adrian Peterson outrushed Marshawn Lynch, above, 182 yards to 124 last season, but Lynch's Seahawks won 30-20 over the Vikings.
"I think they are totally different runners," said Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman. "I think Adrian runs to go. Marshawn runs to run through people."

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards last season, falling just nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's NFL record, which was set in 1984. Peterson also became the second running back since 1980 (joining Earl Campbell) to rush for 150 yards or more in seven games in a single season.

Lynch rushed for a career best 1,590 yards last season and a 5.0-yard average. He rushed for more than 100 yards in 11 games, including the 24-14 playoff victory at Washington.

Peterson won the individual battle with Lynch last season at Seattle, but the Seahawks won the game 30-20. Peterson had 182 yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns. He had a 74-yard run on Minnesota's second play from scrimmage, but the Seahawks defense held Peterson to only 38 yards in the second half.

Lynch also played well, rushing for 124 yards on 26 carries, including a 3-yard TD run that gave Seattle a 27-17 lead in the third quarter.

Now they meet again for two teams heading in opposite directions. The Seahawks are 9-1 and the Vikings are 2-7.

Few people know these two backs better than Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who was the OC at Minnesota from 2006 through 2010.

"They both are the ultimate competitors," Bevell said. "But they have different styles. Marshawn is going to make people miss in a phone booth, in a small area. He's going to come out of the stacks a lot.

"Adrian has that top end breakaway speed. He can still make people miss, but he's not going to do it quite like Marshawn. When Adrian comes out the back end, he can be gone."

Bevell said there's one obvious thing both players have in common.

"They want the ball," Bevell said. "They'll take it as many times as you'll give it to them. They both feel the more times they get it, the better they get a feel on how the game is going. They start seeing how the blocking schemes are coming off, where they can take the ball and how they can set things up. So the more you give it to them, the more effective that they think they can be."

Seattle free safety Earl Thomas sees differences between Lynch and Peterson.

"Marshawn is pretty smooth, but AP is kind of jerky in how he runs," Thomas said. "He can jump out and run over you. His head starts pumping when he's on a long run, so we don't want to see that Sunday."

Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said he had a message for his teammates about Lynch: Limit his yards after contact.

"I'm trying to tell our guys, ‘Let's not let Beast Mode get all Beast Mode on us,'" Allen said. "We have to try and keep that in check a little bit, but he's a very tough-nosed dude.

"Just like Adrian, you might stop him one, two, three times. Then that fourth time, he might take it 60 yards. I think [Lynch] is well-rounded in every facet of a running back's game. Like I said, tough enough to carry the ball 30 times a game right up the gut, and fast enough to take it around the edge and kill you."

No matter which man gets the upper hand Sunday, Carroll believes it's worth the price of admission just to see them do their thing.

"It's an interesting comparison, to tell you the truth," Carroll said. "But they are different and they both have a really definitive style. Marshawn's way of running and Adrian's way, they're not at all the same. But they're extraordinary players and it'll really be fun to watch them again on the same field."