Despite a stellar opening half from quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks entered the break trailing Kirk Cousins and the Vikings 21-17 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Through two quarters, Wilson has completed 15 out of 19 passes for 218 yards and threw a touchdown to DK Metcalf. But Cousins outdueled his former Big Ten counterpart, completing 16 out of 20 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers against an overwhelmed Seattle defense.
Here are three quick thoughts at the half from Minnesota:
1. DK Metcalf bounces back from two pedestrian games with a monster first half.
Admitting he needed to do a better job of ignoring the trash talk directed his way by opponents earlier this week, Metcalf much more closely resembled the record-setting All-Pro wideout he was a year ago by immediately taking over the game against a struggling Vikings' secondary. On Seattle's opening scoring drive, he reeled in a 17-yard reception on the first play and later caught a 27-yarder where he picked up big yardage after the catch with a beautiful open field cut to move his team into the red zone. Two plays later, Wilson hit him on a quick out and he turned upfield, managing to sneak the ball inside the pylon for a touchdown. Later, he showed off his value beyond catching footballs, making a key block to spring Chris Carson on a 30-yard touchdown to extend the Seahawks lead to 17-7 midway through the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will look to continue capitalizing on his matchup against cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland.
2. For a half, even missing a starter, the Seahawks' offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage.
Without Brandon Shell, who was deactivated with an ankle sprain, the Seahawks were expected to have issues keeping star pass rusher Danielle Hunter and a talented defensive line off of Wilson. But in the first two quarters, while rotating Jamarco Jones and undrafted rookie Jake Curhan into the lineup at right tackle in Shell's place, the group did a phenomenal job keeping their quarterback upright and opening up running lanes for Carson. The Vikings were only able to register one quarterback hit on Wilson, who consistently had time to scan the field and run through his progressions in the pocket. Meanwhile, Carson rebounded from a rough outing against the Titans, primarily finding success running into the teeth of Minnesota's defense while rushing 10 times for 74 yards. On his long touchdown run, tackle Duane Brown kicked out the defensive end and guard Damien Lewis was able to reach block the opposing defensive tackle, creating a massive crease for him to explode through.
3. After racking up 100 penalty yards in Week 2, discipline issues continue to plague Seattle, particularly for a hapless defense.
Immediately after Sunday's loss to the Titans and throughout the practice week, coach Pete Carroll kept lamenting about the Seahawks struggles with committing unnecessary penalties. Unfortunately, that trend carried over into the first half in Minnesota and may have created an 11-point swing. Immediately after forcing a three-and-out, Seattle was past midfield and driving with ease, only for a long gain on a bubble screen by Tyler Lockett to be wiped out by a block in the back by center Kyle Fuller. Unable to recover from the penalty, they were forced to settle for a Jason Myers field goal. On the next possession, the Seahawks once again looked to have a quick three-and-out with a sack by Rasheem Green, but the play was nullified by an ugly defensive holding penalty on cornerback Ugo Amadi against receiver K.J. Osborn. Cousins wasn't even looking at the receiver when the infraction occurred and the Vikings capitalized on the mistake, with Adam Thielen reeling in a 19-yard touchdown pass moments later to cut the deficit to three points. Then at the end of the half, after Myers missed from 44 yards out, D.J. Reed got beat on a short sluggo route by Justin Jefferson for a three-yard touchdown, giving the Vikings even more momentum and their first lead since 7-0.
Beyond penalties, Minnesota exploited Seattle's defense with screens on numerous occasions, another sign of poor defensive execution. Running back Alexander Mattison finished the half with five receptions for 60 yards and much of that damage came courtesy of well-executed - and poorly defended - screens. Coupling those miscues with loose coverage on the back half and it's not surprising at all that the visitors gave up 15 first downs, only got one stop on third down, and allowed three touchdown drives. Players such as Jamal Adams will need to step up and a make a couple big plays in the second half for the Seahawks to find a way to escape with a victory.