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SEAHAWKS: Lynch, Gore match-up could decide NFC title

by: COURTESY OF MICHAEL WORKMAN - Seattle's Marshawn Lynch shreds the New Orleans middle defense en route to his first of two touchdowns in last week's NFL playoff victory at CenturyLink Field.As go their top running backs, so go the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Marshawn Lynch of Seattle and Frank Gore of San Francisco, like two veteran prize fighters, have dished out and taken their lumps to and from opposing NFL defenses over the year years.

And both are bound to be featured components in the 3:30 p.m. Sunday NFC championship showdown at CenturyLink Field.

The winning team advances to the Feb. 2 Super Bowl at East Rutherford, N.J., to face the AFC champion, either New England or Denver.

Lynch is a bit younger than Gore, and has had slightly better results overall this season.

The Seahawks held Gore to 16 yards rushing — and Lynch scored three touchdowns, two on the ground — as they won 29-3 early in the regular season at Seattle.

But Gore's 110 yards in the late-season rematch at Candlestick Park helped the 49ers prevail 19-17. His 51-yard burst in the fourth quarter set up the winning field goal by Phil Dawson.

Since 2009, Gore and the 49ers are 5-4 against the Seahawks — and Gore has run for 590 yards in the five wins but only 107 yards in the four losses (missing one game with an injury).

Under SF coach Jim Harbaugh, who is 4-2 versus Seattle, Gore has gained 383 yards in four victories and 44 yards in two losses.

  • Last week, Lynch was the NFL's No. 2 playoff rusher, behind New England's LeGarrette Blount, the former Oregon Ducks standout.

    Lynch ran 28 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns as Seattle beat New Orleans.

    Blount had 166 yards and four TDs on 24 carries against Indianapolis.

    Gore was third in the divisional playoff round with 84 yards on 17 carries against Carolina, and no touchdown. However, his 4.9 average per carry was about the same as Lynch's 5.0.

  • Both are tough inside runners, with Lynch generally showing more quickness and lateral moves.

    During the regular season, Lynch ran 301 times for 1,257 yards (4.2 average) and 12 touchdowns, playing in all 16 games. Gore had 276 carries for 1,128 yards (4.1) and nine TDs.

    In the passing game, Lynch caught 36 balls for 316 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season. Gore had 16 receptions for 141 yards and no TDs.

    Lynch fumbled four times, losing one. Gore lost all three of his fumbles.

  • Lynch is listed at 5-11, 215 pounds. He's 27 and in his seventh NFL season out of California. He was born in Oakland, Calif.

    Gore is listed at 5-9, 217 pounds. He's 30 and in his ninth year out of Miami. He was born in Miami, Fla., as well.

    In their two head-to-head meetings this season, Lynch totaled 170 yards on 46 rush attempts, with three touchdowns. Gore had 126 yards on 26 totes, but no TDs. Lynch caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown, while Gore had one reception for 14 yards.