Seahawks Escape With Stunning Win Over Vikings
The game started for the Minnesota Vikings with an ominous sign. The Vikings team Gjallarhorn shattered in the frigid temperatures right before game time. Could the shattering of a Viking horn be the foreshadow of the shattering of a playoff dream?
As far as the Seattle Seahawks were concerned, they had simply traveled to Minnesota to beat the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card game, cold weather or not.
And make no mistake about it– The Seahawks failed to accomplish that task.
The Minnesota Vikings decided to lose the game instead, 10-9, giving the Seahawks a win and the right to advance in the playoffs to the divisional round.
There’s no point in sugar coating this. The Seahawks should not be in this position, but they are. Here are my takeaways from one of the more bizarre Seahawks victories you’ll ever see.
The Seahawks on offense were absolutely abysmal. They ran the ball ok, but Russell Wilson could not make an accurate throw or find an open receiver far more times than not. His performance is reflected greatly in his numbers.
Wilson finished the game 13/26 for 142 yards. He did have a TD pass but he also threw an interception, a pass that was far too high for his tight end Chase Coffman.
Rushing the ball was only marginally better for the Seahawks. They finished with 97 total rushing yards. I actually thought Christine Michael played a great game. He accounted for 70 of the Seahawks 97 rushing yards.
In very tough, cold conditions, Michael never lost control of the ball. 70 yards might not seem great but given the situation of playoffs, weather, and Marshawn Lynch returning and then not returning, I thought he did a great job.
There were some great plays on offense. Doug Baldwin caught a ball with one hand that gave the Seahawks a first down while facing third and long. It might be the toughest catch Baldwin has ever made in his career.
The best play offensively for the Seahawks has to be the improvisation play by Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett. The play started with a good snap but it was a snap that Wilson had clearly not called for just yet. The ball went past Wilson’s head and started rolling behind him.
Wilson gave chase to the loose ball, made a sliding recovery, and then quickly arose, running for his life to his right side. While running, he spotted Lockett and heaved the ball downfield. Lockett made the wide open catch and raced inside the Vikings five yard line. The incredible improv setup the Seahawks only touchdown of the game.
I can’t say enough good things about the Seahawks defense in this one, especially during the first half. The offense repeatedly left the defense in bad situations and still, time after time, the defense held the Vikings to a field goal or to no score.
Adrian Peterson did get more carries and more yards than his last meeting against the Seahawks, but not much more. Peterson finished with 23 carries but for just 45 yards. Peterson was simply a non-factor for the Vikings in this game.
Predictably, the Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater were forced to throw the ball more often than they wanted to. Predictably, Bridgewater was unable to rise to that challenge in order to secure a win for his team. Bridgewater’s numbers were pretty much identical to that of Wilson.
The main difference in the performance between Bridgewater and Wilson is that Wilson was able to avoid sacks in key situations where Bridgewater took them. It’s a subtle thing to try to distinguish but a valid one none the less.
The big play for the Seahawks defense was Kam Chancellor forcing a fumble by Adrian Peterson. The play wound up being the catalyst that led to the Seahawks taking the 10-9 lead. Without question, Chancellor’s play put the Seahawks back into the game.
The Special Teams
Both Lockett and Cordarrelle Patterson had quiet days returning kicks and punts yet it was special teams that led to the outcome of this game.
In a play reminiscent of the Jim Carey movie, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the Vikings sensational rookie kicker, Blair Walsh, missed an easy, chip shot attempt that would have sent the Vikings onward in the NFL playoffs.
Walsh yanked the kick wide left. Replays clearly showed that the snap and hold were good but that the laces were facing Walsh as he kicked the ball.
The missed kick essentially ended the game, and the Vikings season. The Vikings playoff dreams were left shattered in the cold, just like the Gjallarhorn. Seattle was left simply as the beneficiary of the Vikings misfortune, not the victor.
Thanks to not losing, the Seahawks advance in the playoffs where they’ll now find another rematch on their schedule. The Seahawks must travel to Carolina to face the Panthers, a team that beat Seattle for the first time ever, earlier this year.
The Seahawks mission will be to regroup, warm up, and right all the wrongs they did last time they saw the Panthers.
The forecast calls for 48 degree weather in Charlotte next week. I’m not sure they Seahawks can count on the karma of an improbable shattering of a panther tooth next week.
They’ll have to win it themselves this time.