“Especially in playoff football, it seems like the running game always plays a bigger part. The weather gets bad, it gets windy, and things like that. The ability to run the ball and stop the run is crucial,” Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. “And it’s what our team is built on.”
Cofield said that Shanahan’s first order of business as he opens planning meetings each Wednesday is to talk about how Washington’s defense fared against the run in its previous game and what needs to be done against the run in the next game.
With a struggling second-year quarterback in Christian Ponder, and a transcendent running back in Peterson (whose 2,097 yards were the second-most in NFL history), it makes sense for the Vikings to, as their coach Leslie Frazier put it, “make no bones about it” that they’re a run-first team.
“We’re always confident in our run game. We don’t shy away from it, and we know that’s the type of team we are,” Vikings fullback Jerome Felton said. “I think Coach Frazier built the team like that and we’re confident in it. So, yeah, we still think the run is prevalent in this league.”
And both are aware that their bruising running backs _ Carroll called Morris “a hammer”; Cofield said Lynch “runs like he’s angry at everybody” _ provide a big boost to first-year quarterbacks Griffin and Russell Wilson.
“If you have the proper commitment and you build around it, it’s maybe the best way you can count on being consistently successful,” Carroll said. “And you know that, as you’re bringing up a young quarterback, there’s nothing better than to run the football as they grow. … We always want to run the football _ for attitude, and just for the style of play.”
AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell, AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski and AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report.
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