Rush hour: Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch style

Posted Nov 14, 2013

When the Seahawks host the Vikings on Sunday, the game within the game will involve two of the NFL’s most prolific running backs in Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson.

In looking to compare Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson, the obvious place to start is with their production.

Entering Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks’ Lynch is second in the NFL with 871 rushing yards and also has a 4.6-yard average, while the Minnesota Vikings’ Peterson is fourth with 786 yards (in one less game) and is averaging 4.5 yards.

Last season, Peterson came oh-so-close to breaking the single-season rushing record with 2,097 yards, while Lynch was third in the league with a career-high 1,590. In the team’s Week 9 game at CenturyLink Field, Peterson went for 182; Lynch 124. Each was voted All-Pro. Both played in the Pro Bowl.

Since Week 9 of the 2011 season, no backs have more yards than Lynch (3,402) and Peterson (3,058); or rushing touchdowns than Lynch (27) and Peterson (24); or 100-yard rushing performances during that 35-game span than Lynch (19) and Peterson (16).

“They’re both great backs,” said Darrell Bevell, who coached Peterson from 2007-10 as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator now coaches Lynch in the same capacity with the Seahawks.

“They both want the ball. They’re both ultimate competitors. They both run really, really hard.”               

And each has an instant-recognition nickname: Beast Mode for Lynch and simply A.P. for Peterson.

But in looking for a starting point while trying to contrast how these prolific backs amass their impressive number, it depends on who you ask.

“It’s an interesting comparison. It’s kind of cool to watch, because they’re both extremely dynamic,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “They have so many things they can do so uniquely, but that are different. They both have a really definitive style. Marshawn’s way of running and Adrian’s way of running, they’re not at all the same.

“But they’re extraordinary players and really fun to watch.”


Offered Bevell: “Marshawn is going to make people miss in a phone booth, in a small area. He’s a competitive runner, as well. 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. He’s competitive, as well, as a runner. He runs really hard. And when he comes out the back end, he can be gone.”

Said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier: “Their running styles are similar, but dissimilar. You know Marshawn, when I see him breaking all those tackles and being a downhill runner, he has a lot of success between the tackles. Adrian is one of those guys who, he can run inside, he can run outside, he can score from just about anywhere on the field. They’re both perfect backs. They’re outstanding at what they do.”

Added Vikings defensive end Jared Allen: “They’re both very physical, downhill running backs. But they have the ability to move and once they get outside, they can take any play to the house. I’m just trying to tell our guys around here, ‘Let’s not let Beast Mode get all Beast Mode.’ So we’re trying to keep that in check a little bit, but a very tough-nosed dude. Just like Adrian. You might stop him one, two, three times; and on that fourth time, he might take it 60 yards. I think he’s well-rounded in every facet of a running back’s game.”

And leave it to Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback, to come up with this: “I think Adrian Peterson runs to go. I think Marshawn runs to run through people.”

Then there’s this from Heath Farwell, the Seahawks’ special teams captain and linebacker who also played with Peterson while with the Vikings: “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. I just have a lot of respect for the way he runs. 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.

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

Also fortunate are those who have tickets for Sunday’s game, because they’ll be able to watch this Battle of the Backs from the optimum perspective.

“This is a fantastic game for somebody to watch running backs and to compare the two,” Carroll said. “Our style of offense is a little bit different than theirs and the style of running game. But both guys are great players and it’ll be great to watch it on the same field.”