RENTON, Wash. — Ask around and you’re liable to get a variety of explanations why Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch are two of the top running backs in the NFL.
Their styles are different. Peterson runs through defenders looking for daylight, while Lynch is more apt to carry defenders and hope to come out the back side of the play clean.
“They’re both beasts. That’s the way to explain it. It’s fun playing against him, I love playing against Marshawn,” Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said. “If you can’t get up to a game plan against him, he’s going to let you know about it. That’s what is fun about him. Those two are probably most similar to each other than anyone in the league.”
At a time when passing offenses get most of the attention, Peterson and Lynch are proof the running game is still important.
The duo will be on display Sunday when the Seahawks host the Vikings. It’s a matchup of the No. 2 running back in the NFL in yards rushing (Lynch) against No. 4 (Peterson), and the second straight season the pair get featured in the same game.
When the teams met last year, both put on a show. Peterson went for 74 yards on the second play of the game and finished with 182 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. Lynch wasn’t quite as dynamic, but finished with 124 yards and a TD in Seattle’s 30-20 victory.
They don’t go head-to-head, but Peterson says trying to get the upper-hand in the other is always there.
“I’m sure it’s there, to some extent. It’s not like we’re at the point where you’re more focused on that than wanting to win,” Peterson said. “But of course I’m sure he sits over there and is like, ‘Hey, Adrian breaks one. I want to break one. I want to perform better for my team to help my team win.’ So in inside, all the way in the back, it kind of sits there. But it’s not at the forefront.”
While they are highly successful, pinpointing similarities isn’t easy. From a broad view, the way they run is not the same. Peterson is a glider using a combination of speed and power to create those long runs. Lynch is choppier as he runs, using a wider base that allows him the ability to break and carry tacklers as he continues to push downfield.
“I think they’re both powerful runners, they both run very violently, they run hard, they take on contact, they initiate contact, and they usually shed off of contact,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “I think Adrian Peterson runs to go. I think Marshawn runs to run through people. He runs to find people to run through.”
Peterson and the Vikings are coming off two solid showings in the run game. After matching his season high with 140 yards two weeks ago in Dallas, Peterson had 75 yards and two touchdowns rushing in last week’s win over Minnesota. It’s far from the numbers Peterson posted last year when he threatened the NFL single-season rushing record, but it’s progress.
Seattle seems to have found its run game efficiency the last two weeks and is getting closer to the offensive form they showed a year ago. Lynch ran for 125 yards in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime win over Tampa Bay, then followed up with a season-best 145 yards last week in a 33-10 romp over Atlanta.
The 145 yards for Lynch against the Falcons were the most for Lynch since running for 148 late in the 2011 season against Philadelphia. It came behind an offensive line that was missing three starters, all of whom could be back this week.
“A lot of teams who go deep in the playoffs and do well late in the season they might not always have a fullback but they have some type of a running game,” Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. “Just late in the season for whatever (reason) teams don’t want to hit guys like Marshawn, or like (Peterson).”
Seattle WR Percy Harvin was a full participant in practice on Thursday, an indication he might make his Seahawks debut on Sunday against his former team. Seattle had 13 players who were full participants on the injury report Thursday. … Sherman has only been targeted once in the past two games according to STATS. Sherman says he wants QBs throwing his way, “I don’t want to be an island, I don’t like that. I want to be more of a tourist attraction, I want to be the guy where you stop here, I take your money and you go,” he said.