By Dan Wiederer Minneapolis Star Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS — The Marshawn Lynch highlight reel isn’t one the Vikings defense was eager to load up this week. Not with its sudden struggles stopping the run.
If Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin rushed for 214 yards last week, won’t the challenge Sunday be even greater trying to corral Lynch, a 215-pound bruiser who runs like a Pamplona bull?
If Washington’s LaRod Stephens-Howling was able to register his first career 100-yard game against the Vikings two weeks ago, what might happen with a Pro Bowl-caliber back such as Lynch, who has 16 100-yard outings on his resume?
Said linebacker Chad Greenway: “When you’re struggling against the run game like we have the last few weeks, all you want to do is test yourself. That’s the only way you can get out of your funk.”
During the past three weeks, the Vikings have allowed opponents to rush for 468 yards. They’ve struggled with tackling and they’ve been lax with their assignments.
Now they’ll head into hostile territory in Seattle today to butt heads with a back nicknamed “Beast Mode.”
Were it not for Adrian Peterson’s impressive resurgence, Lynch’s 757 rushing yards would lead the NFL right now. And his highlight queue is full of rattling runs that would put even the most tenacious defense on edge.
Of course, there’s Lynch’s most renowned rumble, from a 2011 NFC playoff game against New Orleans. That one covered 67 yards as he pinballed all across CenturyLink Field with a half-dozen Saints getting their hands on him but never able to bring him down.
But there’s also Lynch’s most recent touchdown, too. That went 77 yards in Detroit last Sunday with the Seahawks back finding a crease on the right side, darting through and sprinting untouched to the end zone.
Still, Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Thursday it’s not the long touchdown runs that define Lynch. It’s that he’s constantly pounding away, like a wrecking ball razing an office park one thump at a time.
“Usually his best plays,” Williams said, “are the ones that are 10 or 15 yards, where there’s nothing there and he may sidestep a guy, jump cut, shimmy through a hole, maybe run over a guy and pick up an extra 4 or 5 yards. He does a great job after contact.”