Seahawks Ground and Pound Vikings, Seize Control of NFC West
Overcoming several miscues in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks held off a furious rally by the Vikings to earn a crucial 37-30 victory on Monday Night Football.
With the win, Seattle jumped over San Francisco to take over first place in the NFC West and improved to the No. 2 seed in the NFC with just four games left to play.
Here's four takeaways from the Seahawks wild Week 13 win at CenturyLink Field.
For a second straight week, Russell Wilson wasn’t quite his typical self… until the second half.
For whatever reason, Wilson has been stymied by Minnesota’s defense in their past two meetings. In the first half of this rematch, Wilson completed 10 out of 15 pass attempts for just 98 yards and had a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage intercepted by safety Anthony Harris for a 20-yard touchdown. But after the break, Wilson found his groove, capitalizing on blown coverage for a 60-yard touchdown to David Moore, giving the Seahawks a 27-17 lead midway through the third quarter. On the next drive, he found Rashaad Penny on a 13-yard screen for a score to extend the lead to 17 points. He finished the game with 240 passing yards and completed 21 out of 31 passes with two scores, turning in a far more memorable performance than last year.
Seattle punished a stout Minnesota front seven with a heavy dose of the run game.
The Vikings entered Monday’s game boasting one of the premier run defenses (94.2 yards per game) in all the NFL, but the Seahawks apparently didn’t care while game planning this week. It was clear from the first drive of the game Seattle planned to emphasize the ground game and found success with a rotation featuring Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson, rushing for 218 yards as a team and averaging more than five yards per carry. Both backs scored rushing touchdowns and combined for 176 yards on 36 carries, carving up a typically stout front seven and melting the clock away late. Seattle’s offensive line won in the trenches and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer did an excellent job of mixing up between the tackle runs and outside sweeps to keep Minnesota off balance.
The Seahawks turned in a roller coaster performance defensively with plenty of highs and plenty of lows.
Seattle endured plenty of defensive mishaps in this game that allowed Minnesota to cut a 17-point deficit to just four points, including a broken coverage assignment that permitted Laquon Treadwell to spring free wide open for a 58-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. On an opening drive littered with missed tackles, they allowed the Vikings to march right down the field and punch it in for a 7-0 lead. But when the Seahawks needed timely stops, they came up with them. Early in the third quarter, Rasheem Green punched the ball out of Dalvin Cook’s hands, eventually giving Seattle a three-point lead on a Jason Myers field goal. Two possessions later, Tre Flowers showed off outstanding hand-eye coordination to pick off a pass intended for Stefon Diggs. And with Minnesota close to midfield before the two-minute warning, Akeem King knocked away a fourth down pass to Irv Smith Jr., ultimately sealing the victory.
Seattle received a boost on special teams, winning in the third phase of the game.
At the end of the day, the Seahawks were the better team on special teams, which made a huge difference in a one-score game. Myers connected on all three of his field goal attempts and all of his extra points, while Michael Dickson booted several nice punts to help win the field position game. When facing fourth-and-three early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks called a fake punt from their own 32-yard line and upback Travis Homer raced outside for 29 yards to extend the drive. But the most important special teams play came with just 14 seconds to go, as receiver Malik Turner forced a fumble on a kickoff and Homer recovered it to allow Wilson to take a knee on the final play of the game.