RENTON, Wash. — Lewd and loud music pounded out from Marshawn Lynch’s locker as fullback Michael Robinson tried to explain two of the best running backs in the NFL, Lynch and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.
“They both are very explosive runners,” Robinson said. “They get 25, 30 yards down the field like that.
“The difference is, I look at AP, I call him a color runner. He’s talked out of going certain places because of color, he feels and sees color. Marshawn is more of a cutback, cut-against-the-grain, lower my shoulder get north type of guy.
“Not saying AP doesn’t do that. He’s trying to get out, break out, explode trying to get to a touchdown as opposed to Marshawn is going to go right through.”
The two will be at CenturyLink Field Sunday afternoon when the Seahawks host the Vikings at 1:25 p.m.
Their production and size are similar. Other things are not.
The dreadlocked Lynch is from a hard-scrabble section of Oakland. The clean-shaven Peterson is from Palestine, Texas, a city of less than 20 square miles and 20,000 people stationed between Dallas and Houston. Each October, the Hot Pepper Festival is a hit there.
Their base physical numbers — Lynch is 5-foot-11, 215 pounds to Peterson’s 6-foot-1, 217 pounds — are close. But, their frames are not alike and those differences influence their running styles.
Peterson is more upright when he runs. He’s just two inches taller than Lynch, yet those two inches make him look markedly different than Seattle’s back. He’s built in a more linear way, which could well be the explanation for his superior top-end speed. Peterson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at the NFL Combine.
He also looks like someone a sculptor carved, then took the leftover clay and just decided to attach it in the form of defined muscles.
Lynch is shaped more like a sugar cube on top of two dice. Square and broad-shouldered, he’s a compacted battering ram with nimble feet.
Lynch also has a gymnast’s balance. Defenders often fail to knock him off his center of gravity in tight spaces.
“Marshawn is going to make people miss in a phone booth,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.
Each has used his gifts to develop into the top two backs in the NFL the last three years. Since 2011, Peterson leads the league with 3,853 rushing yards. Lynch is second with 3,665 yards. Peterson has a league-leading 33 rushing touchdowns. Lynch’s is second with 30. Lynch has played four more games during that time period, however.
Both carry freak of nature stories. Lynch’s was spun when he rumbled through the New Orleans Saints for a 67-yard touchdown in the 2010 postseason that led to seismic activity being recorded around CenturyLink Field during the celebration.
Peterson’s came last season, when less than a year after tearing his ACL and MCL, he ran for more than 2,000 yards, was named NFL MVP and finished eight yards short of the single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.
What happened last year at CenturyLink Field helped keep Peterson from the record.
It wasn’t what the Seahawks did, but more what Minnesota did not.
After Peterson gained 144 yards on 12 carries in the first half, he was given the ball just five more times in the second half for another 38 yards. Peterson finished with a then season-high 182 yards on just 17 carries.
Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier said the Seahawks began to put eight or nine defenders in the tackle box, so the Vikings thought passing opportunities would be there.
Peterson was diplomatic, but did not know why the Vikings changed.
“I always want the ball more,” Peterson said at the time. “That’s my mentality, especially when I’m hot. I go out and do my job no matter what the play call is. That’s all I can do.”
Lynch would understand that line of thinking.
Sunday, in what is expected to be a cool and wet CenturyLink Field, the two will be the starting points for each team’s offense. The Seahawks have had trouble against the run of late, though appeared better last week against a putrid Atlanta rushing offense which is last in the league.
Success against Peterson will be a proper measurement of how the run defense has improved, if it has.
And, no matter what he does, the Seahawks will back their guy.
“Nobody like Marshawn,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Marshawn’s the best in the business.”
Peterson may have something to say about that.