CHANDLER, Ariz. – It's no secret that the key to stopping the Seahawks is containing the beast known as Marshawn Lynch. Few running backs are as difficult to handle in the open field given his size and strength, and the Patriots will need to keep him under wraps on Sunday if they are to capture their fourth Super Bowl title.
"He's easily the best back we've faced," safety Devin McCourty said. "The toughest thing is how he runs the football. He's a guy that go outside, go in between the tackles and the best thing he probably does is make people miss. You can see how many highlights he has where he makes eight guys miss and goes all the way.
"It's going to be tough to replicate that in practice. It's going to be a lot of guys having to get to him and gang tackling him. You can't solo tackle him."
The New England Patriots arrived in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX and met the media at the team hotel on Monday, January 26, 2015.
Lynch is indeed the kingpin to the Seattle offense. He led the team in rushing with 1,306 yards on 280 carries (4.7-yard average) and picked up 13 touchdowns. But when he's truly at his most dangerous is after contact, where more than two thirds of his yards have been gained this season.
"It's more running style and his mentality. I don't think he believes one guy should bring him down," McCourty said. "That's how he runs the ball. Defensively we have to understand, especially in the secondary, we got to get to the ball every play. We can't start jogging backside and think that we got him. That's the only way you can slow him down. You have one guy trying to make one-on-one tackles and he's going to win the game."
Everyone remembers his thunderous touchdown run in the playoffs against the Saints a few years ago in a wild card game. Lynch was as stunning with his speed as he was with his power, as he alternately ran past and through defenders.
While McCourty believes the key to corralling him is getting extra bodies around him, what happens to the poor defensive backs on those occasions when the 5-11, 215-pound phenomenon known as "Beast Mode" breaks free in the secondary?
"Get him down, by any means necessary," McCourty said. "We talk about that in the safety room all the time. Whenever a good back gets free in the secondary throughout the season, just get him down any way you can. There's no technique to tackling Marshawn Lynch in the open field, 10, 15 yards away. You just have to get him down.
"If I get him down by myself I'll get up and smile at somebody."
The Seattle offense is not the most high-powered unit in the league but between Lynch's production and the dominance of the defense, the Seahawks mustered 394 points on the season, good for 10th in the league. The main reason for those numbers is the relentless nature of Lynch, who the Seahawks are more than willing to ride early and often.
Even if the Patriots are able to contain him initially, he will test their spirit with his hard-charging style and Seattle won't be afraid to keep feeding the Beast Mode.