Philadelphia Eagles News

Tough Task: Slowing Lynch's 'Beast Mode'

He is in Beast Mode, running over, around and through defensive players. Running back Marshawn Lynch is a load, and then some, as the Eagles defensive players know very well.

Linebacker Casey Matthews was on the field in 2011 when Lynch gained 148 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Eagles, one an improbable 15-yarder when the entire Eagles defense stonewalled Lynch at the line of scrimmage. They had him.

And then they didn't.

"First-and-goal back at the 15. Lynch not going to get anything," NFL Network play-by-play announcer Brad Nessler says, "well, maybe second effort. Lynch comes out the back of it, and he's in! Touchdown! Eighth straight game that he's scored a touchdown! I don't know how he came out the backside of that pile."

"We thought he was down, but that's just how he is," Matthews said. "He's going to be a challenge. He's very tough. He gets out of tackles and keeps going. He's a big back and he likes to be physical, which you don't see too often. It's going to take tremendous effort and group tackling, because it's going to be tough to bring him down with just one guy."

Lynch is second in the NFL in yards after contact with 568 yards -- interestingly, Dallas' DeMarco Murray is first with 669 and LeSean McCoy ranks fourth in the category with 496 yards after initial contact -- and he's a rare running back who embraces contact and who, seemingly, becomes invigorated the more he gets hit.

Seattle's offense is more than just Lynch, of course, but the bread and butter of the attack is No. 24.

"When you really look at it, look at him," cornerback Nolan Carroll II said, "cut his body in half and look at his feet. They are constantly moving after contact. It takes more than one guy to bring him down. His running abililty after contact is what makes him so special.

"If you're in the hole and he's coming at you, you have to have good leverage and balance and wrap him up and wait for others to come help you. I've never seen him be tackled by just one guy. There are always three or four guys around him, and he's always falling forward."

Carroll played against Lynch when Carroll was in Miami and Lynch was a rookie in Buffalo. Now Lynch is a 5-11, 215-pound veteran, and still a battering ram with more knowledge and a lot more success. For those who have not met Lynch up close and personal, who have only studied him on tape, that first experience can be a jolt.

"Big difference," Carroll said. "Watching him on film, you can tell that he runs hard, but when you feel that first pop, and it kind of goes through your entire body, then you know he's really running hard."

Seattle has a variety of weapons on offense. Quarterback Russell Wilson is smart, efficient, extremely mobile and crafty for a player in his third NFL season. He won the Super Bowl last season, and it wasn't even close against the Denver Broncos. An underrated receiving corps keeps the chains moving and finds seams in defenses to fuel the passing game.

And then Beast Mode does the rest. Lynch has 956 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 212 carries, averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season. He's on the verge of reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fourth straight season, and the sixth time in his career. Lynch has 8,345 yards since the Bills drafted him in 2007 and he's scored a whopping 67 touchdowns on the ground and another eight as a receiver.

"He's not just power," linebacker Connor Barwin said. "He is a complete player. You have to account for him in every phase of the game. He will make you miss, too. He really does it all."

Stop him? Lynch had 36 yards on six carries in a Week 2 loss at San Diego, 18 carries and 53 yards in Week 7's loss at St. Louis and 15 carries and 39 yards two games ago in the 19-3 win over Arizona to mark his least-productive outings of the season.

Otherwise, he has been a workhorse grinding out tough yardage and bruising defenses.

"Having to play him twice last year (as a member of the Saints) and watching him on tape, I definitely think he's the hardest to tackle in football. He's just hard to get down," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "He can make you miss, he can run you over. You see guys from the secondary to linebackers to D linemen who really can't get him down with an arm tackle, with a solid tackle, for that matter. He's running guys over. He keeps his legs moving. He enjoys contact. He doesn't get tired. He actually gets stronger as the game goes on.

"You've got to be ready for him when you play him. You can't expect for it to change when he plays you. The biggest thing is getting multiple guys to the ball. We can't expect to fit our gaps right and then think your job is over and think the guy next to you is going to get him down by himself. It's going to be a collective effort of guys flying to the ball, getting multiple hats on him and getting him down."

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