On Thursday, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane offered an unimpressed review of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to help set the stage for the crucial Super Bowl matchup between Gronkowski and the Seahawks secondary.
Another big matchup in the game is going to be the Patriots run defense against Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was asked about Lynch on Friday and offered a more charitable take on a player he will be butting heads with in Glendale.
“He is very, very, very tough. I remember playing him when he was in Buffalo as a rookie, and I went up to him at the end of the game and I said, ‘You have something special. You’re a hell of a ball player.’ I said, ‘I have to give my hats off to you,’ and he kind of smiled and was like, ‘Thank you,’” Wilfork said in comments distributed by the team. “It seems like he’s been getting better and better. The more and more you play in the game, it seems like he kicks it to another gear, and that’s a sign of a great football player. He’s hands down the best back in the game because he can hurt you any time he has the ball in his hands. I think it’s going to be so important for us to have more than one defender tackling him because he’s shown over the years what he [can] do. He’ll make some defenses and he’ll make some players look stupid on the football field. I don’t want that feeling, I’ll tell you that. It’s going to be a lot of running for us trying to get to him because he demands that. He’s just a great back.”
Getting more than one hat on the ball is going to be vital for the Patriots since Lynch breaks tackles more frequently than any other back in the NFL right now. The Patriots allowed 104 yards on the ground per game during the regular season and they’ve given up an average of 109.5 yards in their two playoff outings, numbers that can’t go up too much if they’re going to keep Lynch from tilting things in Seattle’s favor.