Vince Wilfork: Marshawn Lynch Is ‘Hands Down’ NFL’s Best Running Back

FOXBORO, Mass. — Vince Wilfork knows that he and the rest of the New England Patriots’ defense will be going up against a juggernaut next Sunday in the form of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

“Beast,” Wilfork said Friday when asked for his first impressions of Lynch. “He’s an old-school running back that can do everything. I mean, there’s not one thing he cannot do. He’s very, very, very tough.”

The Patriots don’t see a whole lot of Lynch — playing in the NFC West, he faces AFC East foes just once every four years — but that wasn’t always the case. As Pats fans remember, the running back spent his first for NFL seasons with one of New England’s division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.

Wilfork recalls marveling at Lynch’s skill even in those early days.

“I remember playing him when he was in Buffalo as a rookie,” the veteran defensive tackle said. “I went up to him at the end of the game, and I said, ‘You have something special. … I have to give my hat’s off to you, man.’ And he kind of smiled like, ‘Thank you.’ And it seems like he’s been getting better and better.”

That last part certainly is true. After a lackluster debut campaign in Seattle, Lynch has lived up to his “Beast Mode” nickname, rushing for more than 1,200 yards in each of the last four seasons. He finished the 2014 regular season ranked fourth in the league in rushing yards (1,306) and tied for first in rushing touchdowns (13).

In Wilfork’s mind, there’s no better back in the NFL.

“The more and more he plays the game, it seems like he kicks it to another gear,” Wilfork said. “And that’s the sign of a great football player. He’s hands down the best back in the game, because he can hurt you anytime he has the ball in his hands.”

Wilfork went on to describe Lynch’s ability to make defenders “look silly” on the football field. That’s something he’ll be hoping to avoid in Super Bowl XLIX.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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