A week after battling one of the League's most explosive passing attacks in Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Seahawks find themselves readying for the NFL's top rushing attack in Sunday's game against Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota (8-3) is averaging a League-best 146.4 rushing yards per game, a number that narrowly edges out Seattle's ground total of 144.2 per game. The Vikings' effort is headed by ninth-year pro Adrian Peterson, who at 30 years old has racked up more rushing yards (1,164) than any other player in the League. The six-time Pro Bowler has six 100-plus-yard games to his name this season, including a 203-yard effort in a Week 10 win over the Oakland Raiders.
"You've definitely got to block out the haters," Peterson said via conference call Wednesday of how he has found success at an age when players at his position have historically declined. "Because a lot of people, as far as their mentality, will let what people say get to them and cut them short from being great."
The Seahawks haven't allowed an opposing player to top 100 yards rushing yet this year. Heading into Sunday's matchup, the team is allowing 92.9 rushing yards per game, fifth-fewest in the NFL. The last player to top 100 yards against Seattle was Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who finished with 159 yards in a November game last season. But there's no doubt that Peterson - whose 237 carries are tops in the League - represents the stiffest challenge of 2015 for the Seahawks run defense.
"Adrian is a fantastic football player," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. "He's always been an explosive, dynamic, physical, come-through guy, big-play guy, everything. They know it and they feature him exactly like you'd think they should.
"They're going to come at you and you better get the line of scrimmage right, so that's a huge challenge for us. They block well, they've got good schemes, it's very difficult, so the whole game for us defensively starts there and we have to begin there."
The Seahawks have played against Peterson twice in Carroll's tenure, holding him to 65 yards on 21 carries (3.1-yard average) in a 41-20 win back in 2013 at Seattle's CenturyLink Field. But Peterson ran wild in the Pacific Northwest the year prior, carrying 17 times for 182 yards (10.7-yard average) and two touchdowns, including a 74-yard burst on the second play of the game that saw Peterson tripped up just shy of Seattle's goal line.
"I remember hitting it up the sideline, and I think everyone thought I was getting tackled because everyone was pursuing towards their sideline, and I cut it back across the field," Peterson said of what he remembers about that play that came in a game Seattle eventually won, 30-20. "Then I think I got tackled on like the 1-yard line. So I remember looking up at the jumbotron and cutting right into [Brandon Browner]. Instead of veering off to the right I veered to the left and right into him and he tackled me on the 1-yard line."
Peterson knows much of Seattle's defense remains the same from that game three seasons ago and said he's counting on a tough matchup when the two teams kick off at 10 a.m. PT this Sunday at University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.
"Well these guys have been to the Super Bowl the last two years and they have eight guys that played that are still on the team," said Peterson. "So it's a team that's similar. They play fast, they play aggressive, they've got Pro Bowl caliber players on all levels. So it's going to be a nice challenge for us and I'm looking forward to playing against a good defense."
In the Seahawks' 40 year history, they have played the Vikings 13 times in the regular season and have never met in the postseason. See the action from these games and find out how each team fared before they face one another again this Sunday.