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Emmitt Smith hasn't seen a back like Marshawn Lynch

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- We spent the buildup to the AFC title game chanting about the Patriots' need to run the ball against the Denver Broncos for any shot at keeping pace with Peyton Manning.

That effort failed, meaning Bill Belichick is now prepping chips and guac for the saddest Super Bowl party on Planet Earth.


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The Seahawks' task against Denver isn't all that different. They're at their best when Marshawn Lynch is blasting away at defensive fronts, and they'll need their foundation back to shift into full-on Beast Mode come Sunday.

With back-to-back 100-plus yard outings in the playoffs, Lynch has solidified himself as a postseason heavyweight. In six January appearances, he already owns an NFL record with four touchdowns of 25-plus yards. Sure, he can grind the clock and convert short-yardage scenarios, but his ability to sink a knife into the heart of a defense sets him apart.

"Number one, he's hard to bring down," Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith told me last week. "He's very, very strong. He's a tough-nosed running back and he's going to take at least more than one man to tackle him.

"When I look at him running, his running style, I haven't seen anyone out there quite like him. I know Adrian Peterson is a little different, but Marshawn Lynch is a very, very tough running back."

Lynch closed the regular season with six consecutive games under 100 rushing yards, but he's shone bright during Seattle's postseason run. With 28 carries for 140 yards rushing against the New Orleans Saints followed by 109 more on 22 totes against the San Francisco 49ers, Lynch remains the beating heart of this offense.

"It's pretty cool to be able to block for a back that creates yards like that," center Max Unger said Sunday night. "When he does that and he's throwing piles, and he's carrying people before he goes down, it just makes you want to do your job that much better."

Everyone wants to talk about the matchup between Manning's aerial assault and Seattle's historically epic secondary, but there's no better defense against Peyton than keeping him off the field. That burden on Sunday falls to Lynch.

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