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A.P. vs. Beast Mode

Posted Oct 31, 2012

Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Vikings will feature the backs who lead the NFL in rushing. And Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch are different, but the same.


A look that started out puzzled as Sidney Rice was asked to compare Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch quickly changed to pleased.

“They’re different, but they’re the same,” Rice said.

If anyone should know, it’s Rice. The veteran wide receiver spent his first four NFL seasons as Peterson’s teammate with the Minnesota Vikings and now is a season and a half into being Lynch’s teammate with the Seahawks.

BACK-TO-BACK BACKS

The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch rank 1-2 in the NFL in rushing yards and total yards entering Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field. Here’s a look at their almost-parallel production:

Rushing

PlayerAtt.YardsAvg.100TD
Adrian Peterson 151 775 5.1 3 4
Marshawn Lynch 159 757 4.8 4 3

Receiving

PlayerNo.YardsAvg.Total Yards
Adrian Peterson 23 139 6.0 914
Marshawn Lynch 11 84 7.6 848

Comparing and contrasting Peterson and Lynch is pertinent this week because they rank 1-2 in the league in rushing yards and total yards entering Sunday’s game between the Vikings and Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

Peterson has 775 rushing yards and 914 combined yards rushing and receiving, while Lynch has 757 and 848. Peterson has one more rushing touchdown (four), while Lynch has one more 100-yard rushing performance (four).

The 6-foot-1, 217-pound Peterson has two inches and two pounds on Lynch, but it’s Lynch who runs “bigger.” Each entered the league in 2007, Peterson as the seventh pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, Lynch as the 12th pick – by the Buffalo Bills, who traded him to the Seahawks in 2010.  Peterson is from Texas and went to Oklahoma. Lynch is from Oakland and went to Cal.

As Rice said, different, but the same.

“They have totally different running styles, but they’re the same,” he continued. “In the sense of them being the same, both of them want contact. You’re never going to see either of them run out of bounds, and I don’t think you’re ever going to see anyone run as hard as them.

“Adrian is a real shifty guy, real quick. Marshawn has a wide base and he still manages to make people miss.”

And has deceptive speed, as Lynch displayed in running away from four defenders on a 77-yard touchdown run in Sunday’s loss to the Lions in Detroit.

“They both have speed,” Rice said. “And as you saw on that run, Marshawn can pull away from anybody.”

Rice paused for a moment to ponder the original question one more time and then said, “They’re special. It’s been fun to be a part of watching those guys run.”

Another former teammate/now teammate is Heath Farwell, a linebacker and special teams standout who was with Peterson in Minnesota from 2007-10 and joined Lynch with the Seahawks last season.

Asked that same compare-and-contrast question, his first response was, “Oh man.”

Farwell then added, “Adrian is a mix of power and speed. Just hard-working. He’s arguably one of the best backs to ever play the game. And Marshawn is the same type player – power running, hard to tackle, he just runs so hard.

“They’re both great backs. I’ve been fortunate to be on teams with two great running backs.”

Farwell was aware of Lynch when he was with the Bills, but becoming teammates with him has heightened his appreciation for the things Lynch can do when he has the ball in his hands.

“I just have a lot more respect for the way he runs,” Farwell said. “On so many of his runs, a normal guy would get tackled after a 1-yard gain and he makes a 5-yard run. What he’s so good at is just breaking tackles and getting a positive gain every time.”

Peterson? “That guy is unbelievable,” Farwell said. “He’s special. They’re both great backs.”

Not surprisingly, Peterson (404) and Lynch (303) also rank 1-2 in the league in yards gained after contact. And Lynch’s style definitely has made an impression on Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier, who also used the term “special” in describing the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back.

“It’s his ability to get yards after contact,” Frazier said Wednesday during a conference-call interview. “That’s one of the ways you judge backs, and it’s rare that you see one guy bring him down. He’s such a strong runner with great balance. The way he finishes runs, it’s pretty impressive.

“He runs with an attitude. He makes those tacklers think twice about coming up to tackle him. He’s an excellent back.”

But “special” also applies to Peterson, who tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee last December but somehow has been able to pick right up where he left off.

“It’s been amazing just watching him perform,” Frazier said. “There’s no way I can tell you that I would have predicted he’d be playing at such a high level at this stage of the season. Even that first game of the season, for him to come back and play as well as he’s played it’s been just amazing to all of us.”

Amazing, yet not surprising. Just ask Jared Allen, the Vikings’ Pro Bowl defensive end who led the NFL with 22 sacks last season.

“We didn’t doubt him,” Allen said Wednesday during a conference-call interview. “We see how his work ethic is. We know what his mentality is. But to see a guy who has recovered to be back at an elite ability – and that’s what he is, an elite back – it’s phenomenal and he just continues to defy people’s norms.

“He’s a stud, just flat out.”

But when asked what has impressed him about the Seahawks’ offense, Allen did not hesitate before offering, “Beast Mode getting crazy over there. Marshawn Lynch, man, they’re running the ball well over there. So that’s going to be a big thing for us.”

When the comparison question came up, Allen said, “They’re both physical as all can be. … They are both physical, downhill running backs who have the ability to explode for an explosive run. And both of them, to stop them you have to stop them before they start. We’ve got to hit him in the backfield. They’re both so good after contact.”

Different, but the same.

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