Alfred Morris or Marshawn Lynch?
Seahawks at Redskins
Key matchup: Alfred Morris vs. Marshawn Lynch
Outlook: While much of the hype ahead of Sunday’s Redskins-Seahawks playoff game will focus on the teams’ dueling signal callers, there’s another matchup that carries equal intrigue: the running backs.
Washington’s Alfred Morris was the NFL’s second leading rusher during the regular season, amassing a Redskins’ record 1,613 yards. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, meantime, was third, just 23 yards behind the rookie.
But the similarities don’t end there. Consider:
- Morris averaged 100.8 yards per game; Lynch rushed for 99.4.
- Morris scored 13 touchdowns; Lynch reached the end zone 11 times.
- Morris logged 335 attempts; Lynch had 20 fewer.
- Morris averaged 4.8 yards per carry; Lynch was a smidge better at 5.0 per attempt.
- The Redskins are 9-1 when Morris touches the ball 20 times; the Seahawks are 7-2 when Lynch does.
- Both players fumbled four times.
They also share similar builds – Morris is 5 foot 10, 218 pounds while Lynch is listed as 5-11, 215. And, when running between the tackles, they also feature familiar approaches. Which is to say they are tough, hard-nosed players who pride themselves on being difficult to bring down.
“He’s a hammer,” Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said of Morris. “He never stops moving his feet, breaks tackles and totally understands the scheme. They’ve done it again with a young running back that nobody thought had a big chance. He’s relentless with his effort and competitiveness.”
There is, however, a notable difference between Morris and Lynch: the Redskins’ standout is not the homerun threat that Seahawks’ speedster has proven to be.
Morris has scored two touchdowns from distance this season – a 39-yarder against Tampa Bay and a 32-yard jaunt last Sunday. Lynch, on the other hand, has tallied four touchdowns from 20 or more yards out, including a highlight reel 77-yarder in Detroit in Week 8.
“What do they call him? ‘Beast mode?’ Redskins defensive end Kedric Golston asked. “He’s a bowling ball who runs over people along the way. Before Russell Wilson, he was the offensive guy on that team.”
Producing a big game, though, won’t be easy for either player.
Seattle’s defense ranks 10th in the NFL against the run, yielding 103.1 yards per game. The unit has held three of the past four opponents to 82 or fewer yards and leads the league in points allowed per game (15.3).
“They have a great front four,” Morris said. “That’s where good defenses start.”
As for going head-to-head with Lynch, Morris said: “I definitely respect his game. I can relate to the way he runs.”
Statistically, though, Lynch figures to face a stiffer challenge. The Redskins’ London Fletcher-led defense ranks fifth best, yielding a mere 95.8 yards on the ground per game.
That said, Shanahan expects his defense to have its hands full.
“He can do it all,” Shanahan said of Lynch. “He can make you miss in space, he’s got the speed, he’s got the toughness and the running skills to make people miss at the line of scrimmage and in the open field. He’s a back I’ve admired for a lot of years.”