Unable to hold a double-digit lead for a second consecutive week, the Seahawks unraveled at the seams on both sides of the football as they were dominated by the Vikings in a 30-17 thumping at U.S. Bank Stadium.
With most of his production coming in the first half, Russell Wilson completed 23 out of 32 passes for 298 yards and threw a touchdown to DK Metcalf, who finished with six receptions for 107 yards. Kirk Cousins outdueled his counterpart, dicing up Seattle's defense with 323 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Justin Jefferson reeled in nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Here are five quick observations from an ugly defeat for the Seahawks in Minneapolis:
1. Third quarter blues once again snake bit Seattle’s offense with limited possession time.
As they did against the Colts and Titans in the first two games of the season, Wilson and the Seahawks came out red hot on offense, scoring on each of their first three drives and building a 17-7 lead. But a concerning pattern has already developed once the team returns to the field out of the halftime intermission, as they have scored a grand total of zero points in the third quarter in the first three games. While it didn’t hurt them in Indianapolis in Week 1, with a defense sitting on their heels all day long, having the ball for under three minutes with just one first down allowed Minnesota to truly take control of the game in front of an energized crowd. In total, while the defense not being able to get off the field on third down played a part once again in limiting opportunities, Seattle ran just five plays for seven yards and never came close to threatening to score. The poor efficiency continued in the fourth quarter with three ineffective drives netting 78 combined yards and zero points.
2. Against a ferocious front four, the Seahawks’ o-line began to cave after halftime.
For a half, Seattle's less-than-full-strength offensive line held up quite well against Danielle Hunter and a talented defensive line. In fact, Wilson wasn't sacked and only took one hit in the first two quarters despite starting right tackle Brandon Shell being sidelined with an ankle injury, which played a key part in scoring 17 points on the team's first three possessions. But signs of leakage started to become apparent late in the second quarter on a drive that ended with a Jason Myers missed field goal and carried over into the second half. On only 19 snaps in the final two quarters, Wilson was hit four times, sacked twice, with one of those sacks by Everson Griffen thwarting a once-promising drive in the third quarter, and pressured several other times. Not being able to continue running the ball with Chris Carson as they fell further behind only magnified the issue with the offense becoming one-dimensional for a second straight week.
3. Copying Ryan Tannehill from a week ago, Cousins successfully harassed Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed all afternoon.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Pete Carroll continued to sing praises about Flowers, who he believed had turned the corner entering his fourth NFL season. But through three games, opposing quarterbacks and receivers haven't shied away from turning into schoolyard bullies and taking his lunch money early and often. On multiple occasions, while giving soft cushion to Jefferson, he got beat for easy completions on hitches and dig routes, allowing the Vikings to move the chains with ease. At various points of the game, he seemed confused of his assignment and drew the ire of teammates such as safety Quandre Diggs. On the sidelines, he was engaged in an animated conversation with defensive backs coach Deshawn Shead. Reed wasn't any better, getting cooked on a double move by Jefferson late in the first half for a three-yard touchdown and allowing the Vikings to retake the lead for good. At some point, a move has to be made to see if someone else on the roster - or from elsewhere - can provide an upgrade for the team's most obvious weakness.
4. Poor execution identifying and stopping screens haunts Seattle for a second straight week.
There's no way to sugarcoat it - the Seahawks didn't do anything well on defense on Sunday other than be inept. They gave up over 100 rushing yards to backup running back Alexander Mattison and Cousins dissected them like a hot knife through butter for nearly 350 passing yards and a trio of touchdowns. A critical penalty on Ugo Amadi extended what should have been a three-and-out and turned it into a touchdown drive midway through the second quarter on the game's biggest turning point. But maybe the most frustrating part of watching this pathetic performance by Carroll's defense was the persistent inability to defend screens. Mattison had 60 receiving yards in the first half and the bulk of that damage came on a trio of screens where Seattle's defensive line got way too deep upfield and Minnesota's blockers formed a caravan out in front of the back for easy first down pickups. Tennessee did much the same a week ago, taking advantage of the team's lack of discipline and over-aggression to extend numerous drives.
5. If there's anything positive to take from this game, a couple injury scares ended up not being near as bad as originally thought.
Aside from Metcalf turning in a monster game, the Seahawks don't have much to be happy about as they prepare to board a plane and head back home riding a two-game losing streak. However, they can take solace in the fact that linebacker Jordyn Brooks and receiver Tyler Lockett appeared to escape serious injuries in the second half. Brooks was carted off after making a tackle in the red zone, but luckily only had cramps, while Lockett managed to tough it out and return to action after having his knee twisted awkwardly following a fourth quarter reception. Losing either player for any period of time would have added insult to injury both literally and figuratively, making an awful road loss even worse.