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Cardinals Aim To Tame Beast Mode

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch must be kept in check for defense to find success

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The Cardinals have stressed gang-tackling to bring down Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, like they did here in last year's December meeting.

There was a slight tremor at the feet of Arizonans on Nov. 1, and hordes of them went on social media to ask: Did I just experience an earthquake?

When Marshawn Lynch rumbled through the Cardinals' defense last December, no such confirmation was needed.

Dubbed the BeastQuake 2.0 – Lynch's memorable run through a pack of Saints in the 2010 NFC wild card game was the original – the Seattle running back discarded both cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Rashad Johnson on his way to a career-long 79-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of a 35-6 victory.

"We were on the wrong end of that highlight tape," Peterson said Wednesday.

Lynch punctuated the demoralizing score with a backwards dive into the end zone and a crotch grab. Vulgar, yes, but if it will motivate anyone with the Cardinals, that doesn't include coach Bruce Arians.

"Not me," Arians said. "I didn't get my ass run over. Hopefully with the guys that got their ass run over, it motivates them."

That run is the last enduring image of Beast Mode against the Cardinals, and as the two teams prepare for another highly-anticipated clash on Sunday night in Seattle, his effectiveness could again help swing the game's outcome.

Lynch isn't the biggest running back in the league – he is listed at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds – but might be the most ferocious. He relishes collisions and has made a name for himself by accumulating yards after contact. Cornerback Jerraud Powers said Lynch "plays angry."

"He's going to try to run through you," Powers said. "That's what type of back he is. I think a lot of guys that face him go in a little timid, a little scared, almost. For us personally, it's got to be a want-to. You've got to want to go in and tackle Marshawn because if you don't go in there and tackle, he's going to embarrass you on national TV. He's done it to a lot of people in his career. You don't want to be that guy."

Missed tackles of Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson helped result in the Cardinals' 0-2 record against Seattle last year -- though, to be fair, nine combined points in those games was the bigger issue -- and proper technique when corralling Lynch has been emphasized throughout the week.

"Keep your head up, wrap up and hold on until the next guy gets there," Arians said.

While he's still considered an elite running back, Lynch's numbers don't back it up midway through 2015. He is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry, which would be a career-low if it holds the rest of the way. The offensive line play has been subpar for the Seahawks, but coach Pete Carroll said the biggest reason for the struggles has been Lynch's health. He missed two games earlier in the year with a hamstring injury.

"He's been in and out a little bit," Carroll said. "He got banged up and he just really hasn't had the chance to get consistently in there. He's played well the last couple weeks now that he's back and healthy. He's really in tip-top shape right now, so hopefully he'll find his stride."

Lynch's slow start has put him on the backburner a bit in the public eye, but the Cardinals know how dangerous he can be.

"I don't know how healthy he is, but when he's out there, he's still a beast," Arians said.

Their aim on Sunday will be to avoid any aftershocks.

"He's hurt us since I've been here," Powers said. "After Russ, it's been him that's been killing us. He's definitely the main guy we need to stop. We have to stop the run, because if they get the run going, there won't be a need to pass the ball. They're that type of team. They'll just grind meat all day."

Images of the key players for this week's opponent, the Seattle Seahawks


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