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Vikings flip over game film of Seahawks running back Chris Carson

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (32) gets flipped upside down as Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis (58) and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) defend in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Nov. 25, 2018. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- Anyone who wasn’t familiar with Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was introduced to him when he nearly broke the Internet on Nov. 25.

In a game against the Carolina Panthers, Carson took a delayed handoff from quarterback Russell Wilson, shed a tackle at the point of attack, then went airborne with Panthers safety Eric Reid gearing up to lay the boom.

What followed was as impressive a display of athleticism and balance — and maybe a little luck — as you’ll see in the NFL. Tripped up by Reid, Carson did a full front flip and, with help from his left hand, landed on his feet before resuming his run.

“Stuff like that shows what he can do,” Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly said. “He’s a dynamic back. He has the speed, the power and the vision. Those are the three things a team wants in a running back. He’s shown time and time again that he has those things. He’s an effective weapon for them.”

That might be an understatement with the way the Seahawks have run the ball this season.

While coach Mike Zimmer has bristled at his team’s inability to establish the running game, the Seahawks have taken the NFL lead, averaging 148.8 yards a game.

“You know, at some point earlier in the season they were throwing it a little bit more,” Zimmer said. “Now they are more diligent about sticking with the run.”

No doubt the emergence of Carson has played a role in that.

A seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Carson has established himself as the Seahawks’ lead back, despite the fact that the Seahawks spent a 2018 first-round pick on Rashaad Penny. Carson is averaging 70.4 rushing yards a game this season and has eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times.

“(He’s) a good back,” Zimmer said. “He might be one of the best backs in the league with the way he runs.”

What stands out most?

“Just about everything,” Zimmer said. “I’ve seen him hurdle guys. I’ve seen him flip and land on his feet. I’ve seen him run over guys. He’s got excellent feet and vision. All of it.”

His 5-foot-11, 225-pound frame makes him a terror to bring down in the open field. He resembles a bowling ball both in stature and the way he barrels through would-be tacklers.

“He breaks a lot of tackles,” Vikings safety Harrison Smith said. “He runs hard. He runs really hard. He’s a very good back. You turn on the film and look at the one-on-one tackles and he’s winning a lot of those battles.”

Because of that, the Vikings — playing for their playoff lives on Monday, Dec. 10 — know they must swarm to the ball when the Seahawks run.

“It’s the No. 1 priority,” Weatherly said. “This game is the biggest game we have because it’s the next one. We all know what’s on the line with going out there and playing in their house. We know the first thing we’ve got to do as a defense is stop the run, and the next thing we have to do is contain the quarterback and get the ball back to our offense as quick as possible.”

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