When it comes to the running game, you know what you are getting from the Seattle Seahawks: hard physical play from Marshawn Lynch. No one is better at turning a 1 yard gain into a 5 yard run than the Seahawks running back. Arm tackles don’t work against #24.
To bring down Lynch, you’re going to have to bring some help. Much of the Seahawks’ identity and swagger is born from the physical play of their junk-grabbing running back.
For the Patriots, it’s a different story. Belichick rotates his running backs as often as his black heart desires, which is about every week. Their offense revolves around Tom Terrific, but they do have some talented running backs:
- LeGarrette Blount: This 250 lb former Oregon Duck (another reason to hate on him) is the Patriots power back.
- Stevan Ridley: Capable of busting 30 yard runs. Also capable of fumbling.
- Shane Vereen: Good receiver out of the backfield. Gets a lot of catches off of checkdowns.
- Jonas Gray: He’s the guy you signed in fantasy football the week after he ran for 200 yards and scored 4 TDs…and of course barely sees the field the rest of the season.
The Patriots leading rusher was Gray win only 412 yards. Blount probably would have led the team in rushing had he weaseled his way out of Pittsburgh sooner.
Each of the New England running backs serve a specific role. Each of them are a function on a Swiss Army Knife. Seattle has all of that function in one player. Lynch was responsible for just under 1,700 all-purpose yards while scoring 17 TDs.
Of course, Lynch isn’t the only Seahawk that helps out in the running game.
Quarterback Russell Wilson ran for an impressive 849 yards in the regular season. It’s not just the rushing amount that is impressive, or the 7.2 YPC average, it’s that a lot of those yards were converting opponent-crushing 3rd down conversions. It’s also impressive when considering how many yards he accumulated, he rarely took big hits or any contact at all.
RW’s and Lynch’s running styles are as different as their public personalities, but each style works together in a way that can demoralize defenses. These two would also make for a great buddy/cop movie, but we’ll save that topic for another time.
The Patriots and the Seahawks approach the running games in different ways, but they are equally important to each team. New England will run to try to slow down Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and the rest of the Seattle pass rush. Seattle will run to keep Brady on the sideline and wear out the rotund cog of Belichick’s defense, Vince Wilfork.
Seattle’s running game has pushed around and beat up defenses all year. In the last game of the year and facing an uncertain future, Marshawn Lynch will certainly leave it all on the field. The Patriots have a well-coached defense, but they will be tested on Superbowl Sunday. RW can make Belichick pay for selling out to contain Lynch.
Belichick may be in the lab cooking up a scheme to slow down Lynch and RW, but all of the cheat codes in the world won’t matter if you can’t tackle Lynch or lose contain on Wilson. The running game will go a long way in determining who is hoisting the Lombardi on Sunday.
Lynch will finally have something to say on the matter.