Comparing the Patriots’ and Seahawks’ rushing attacks

The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks have relied on their power rushing games during the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl. For Seattle, a strong rushing attack has been the team’s identity since head coach Pete Carroll took over and it was a major reason the team was able to survive its slow start. New England’s rushing attack was complementary to its passing attack during the regular season, which makes the ground game’s emergence in the playoffs is surprising.

Seattle’s rushing attack was headlined by none other than Marshawn Lynch in 2014; as the star running back carried the ball 208 times for 1,306 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. After Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson was the Seahawks’ second best ball carry. Wilson carried the ball 118 times for 849 yards (7.2 YPC) and 6 touchdowns. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael combined for 108 carries, 485 yards (4.5 YPC) and no touchdowns. It was a typical year on the ground for the Seahawks during the regular season, and it played a major part in the team winning the NFC West — and the No. 1 seed — for the second straight season.

Shane Vereen was a surprise for the Patriots in 2014. (Courtesy of Buffalo Bills Draft)

Shane Vereen was a surprise for the Patriots in 2014. (Courtesy of Buffalo Bills Draft)

Unlike the Seahawks, New England was never really able to settle on a featured back during the regular season. The Patriots relied on a different running back each week, and it provided a slight advantage for the team as whole — kept opposing the defense’s guessing — but limited what the team was able to do on the ground. Shane Vereen was New England’s leading rusher during the regular season with 96 carries for 391 yards (4.1 YPC) and two touchdowns. Stevan Ridley carried the ball 94 times, Jonas Gray ran it 89 times, and then LeGarrette Blount — a late addition to the roster — ran the ball 60 times. Despite the different running styles, New England’s rushing attack was never able to gain traction during the season, as the Patriots averaged 3.9 yards per carry (ranked 23rd in the NFL). ¬†Even Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady ran the ball 36 times for New England during the season.

2014 Regular season performance

Seattle Seahawks New England Patriots
Carries 525 438
Yards per carry 5.3 3.9
Total yards 2762 1727
Touchdowns 20 13
Fumbles (Lost & Recovered) 19* 0

*13 of those are by quarterback Russell Wilson
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