Times staff reporter Bob Condotta hands out grades from the Seahawks’ 10-9 wild-card victory over the Vikings on Sunday.
MINNEAPOLIS — The most memorable statistic from Seattle’s 10-9 wild-card playoff victory over Minnesota on Sunday figures to forever be minus 6 — the temperature at kickoff, tying for the third-coldest game in NFL history.
“The elements made it as challenging as a game could be,’’ said Seattle coach Pete Carroll, adding the weather has to be considered in any assessment of a game in which the Seahawks were held to just 226 yards — the fewest for a team that won a playoff game since 2009.
Players had talked all week of ignoring the cold, but said it had an undeniable impact, especially on how far balls could be thrown and kicked.
Cornerback Jeremy Lane said he found that out when he batted down a deep pass in the fourth quarter. Lane thought he had a chance to pick it off until the ball died.
“I heard it,’’ Lane said of the talk about the weather’s impact. “But I didn’t know how true it was. That proved it right there.’’
So consider these grades given with a little caveat awarded to the unusual conditions:
The weather had a huge impact on the offenses, in effect cooling off a Seattle prolific passing attack that had blown out the Vikings 38-7 on Dec. 6 in the same stadium. (The team’s issues with headsets, recounted here, may also have played a role).
Russell Wilson also admitted he was off on a few throws as he went just 13-for-26 passing for 142 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating of 63.3 was lower than any he had during the regular season.
Seattle’s longest gain came on a broken play — the errant snap Wilson turned into a 35-yard pass to Tyler Lockett. Otherwise, Seattle had no gain of longer than 22 yards. Wilson was hit seven times and sacked twice, but Seattle was playing on the road against a Vikings defense that was healthier than the first time around.
The Seahawks took more deep shots as the game wore on. Carroll said they hoped to draw pass-interference penalties, which they did once.
Doug Baldwin did what he could — leaping for a spectacular one-handed grab that Wilson called the best catch he has ever seen — and scored the only touchdown of the game.
The Marshawn Lynch-less running game was at least serviceable with Christine Michael gaining 70 yards on 21 carries.
As it did in December, the defense accomplished its primary objective of keeping Adrian Peterson in check, holding him to 45 yards on 23 carries, and Minnesota to just 58 rushing yards on 29 attempts.
Michael Bennett was again a huge part of that effort with his penetration blowing up plays.
Ahtyba Rubin also had a standout game, including racing downfield to recover a Peterson fumble in the fourth quarter. Cliff Avril also had a monster game with three tackles for a loss.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had eight tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss, as the Seahawks brought well-timed pressure. All three of their sacks of Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater were in the second half.
Kam Chancellor was called for a questionable pass-interference penalty and was on the wrong end of Minnesota’s longest gain of the day — the 24-yard pass from Bridgewater to tight end Kyle Rudolph that set up Minnesota’s final ill-fated field-goal attempt.
But all in all, the defense lived up to its best-in-the-NFL billing.
Until Minnesota’s final missed field goal, the Vikings appeared to have the advantage on special teams. A low snap led to Jon Ryan scrambling and being stopped short of a first down on a first-quarter punt. That led to a Vikings field goal. A short punt and a horse-collar tackle for a 15-yard penalty on a return set up another Vikings’ field goal.
And the Vikings started their final drive at the 39 after a 10-yard return, resulting in a net of just 31 yards for the Seahawks on the punt.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, got little out of their returns.
But Steven Hauschka also made a 46-yard field goal in tough conditions for the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter, as well as an extra point, which on this day couldn’t be considered a given.