There wasn't much offense in this one. But the Seahawks' defense came through in a big way, scoring an astounding 18 fourth quarter points to beat the Vikings and enhance their playoff hopes.
It was the kind of game that for most of the night seemed to deserve a blocked field-goal attempt as the most memorable play.
“Not the kind of football everybody loves but the kind of football we love,’’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks used their running game, defense and special teams Monday night to beat the Vikings 21-7.
Carroll’s description of a game with a 3-0 scoreline entering the fourth quarter?
“Just beautiful football,’’ he said.
To the Seahawks, anyway, and no play more so than Bobby Wagner’s block of a Dan Bailey 47-yard field goal with 5:46 left at CenturyLink Field.
The block preserved Seattle’s 6-0 lead, and the Seahawks then used a 40-yard Russell Wilson run to set up an incredible sequence of two touchdowns in 18 seconds that blew the game open.
Chris Carson followed Wilson’s run with a 2-yard touchdown to help make it 14-0 with 2:53 left. Then, a Jacob Martin sack led to a fumble and 29-yard return for a touchdown by Justin Coleman for a 21-0 score with 2:35 remaining.
The Vikings scored with 1:10 left to spoil what could have been Seattle’s first shutout since 2015, a 26-0 blowout against the Bears.
But no matter.
The victory was Seattle’s eighth in its past 11 games following an 0-2 start, and fourth in a row. And it means that all Seattle has to do now is beat the 49ers next Sunday in San Francisco to earn a playoff spot.
“I don’t feel we’ve accomplished anything yet,’’ Carroll said, even if his postgame demeanor seemed to suggest otherwise.
So did Wagner’s. The linebacker said he wasn’t worried about whether something might go wrong on his leap, such as a penalty being called to give Minnesota a first down. (Players can be called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for illegally leaping over the line).
“The whole game we’d been stopping them so I wasn’t worried,’’ he said.
What he did worry a little about was whether he could pull it off at that late stage of the game.
The Seahawks noticed in film study that the Vikings’ offensive line on field-goal attempts stays low to the ground, Wagner said.
“We saw it on film — their line was pretty low and the coaches like my vert (vertical leap),” Wagner said.
So during the week Wagner practiced what is legal — leaping from a standing position. Running and leaping — as Kam Chancellor and Wagner had famously done in previous years — is no longer legal. Nor is using a teammate to get leverage.
“He pulled it off beautifully during the week,’’ Carroll said.
Seattle figured it would have a chance to try it earlier than the final six minutes of the game.
But this was no normal game in an NFL regular season in which yards are being gained and points scored more than ever.
The Seahawks blew two golden opportunities to score in the first half, one ending on an inexplicable Wilson interception on a play that snapped from the 1-yard line with 16 seconds left in the second quarter.
Wilson tried to spin out of trouble after finding no one open, slipped, and then threw wildly to Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks. Wilson had to throw because Seattle had no timeouts left and a sack would have run out the clock.
Carroll said he was “kicking’’ himself for not reminding Wilson to throw it away quickly if the play didn’t develop right. “We just didn’t get rid of the football,” Carroll said. “That’s what he needed to do.”
Wilson, though, took full blame saying, “I messed up that one play. I slipped, kind of got messed up there and tried to throw it away and that didn’t work.’’
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Seattle still led just 3-0 heading into the fourth quarter, with a bounce-back defensive performance having prevented the Vikings from moving beyond their own 41 until there was less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Seattle added a field goal early in the fourth quarter when things really got tense. Minnesota drove to the 4-yard line, and three plays later had the ball at the 1.
The Vikings went for it and Bradley McDougald broke up a Kirk Cousins pass intended for tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Seattle, though, then went three-and-out and the Vikings moved to the Seattle 30. Three plays gained 1 yard and this time the Vikings decided to go for the field goal and Wagner … well, sprung into action.
Wagner leapt over teammates Jarran Reed and Shamar Stephen in between two Vikings players (Danny Isidora and Pat Elflein) and raced to block the kick easily.
A flag was initially thrown but then picked up.
“I just jumped,’’ Wagner said. “I don’t know what happened. I jumped and they didn’t call it so that’s what I’m rolling with. That’s what the history is going to say.’’
Wagner was told some people thought he should have been called for using teammates as leverage.
“Who cares,’’ he responded. “So what.’’
Wagner said he actually lobbied with the officials when the flag was thrown reminding them that he didn’t take a running start — he was on the line in a down position before the snap.
Wagner said he pulled off the play four times in practice.
“But when I did it in practice, I was pretty fresh,’’ Wagner said. “But in the fourth quarter, five minutes left after all those games we’ve played. I was just making sure I got over and didn’t fall because I’m pretty sure you guys would have caught it.’’
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said later he wanted to challenge the ruling but was told he could not.
“Quite honestly, I didn’t see it,” Zimmer said of the block. “I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened. You’re not supposed to be able to pull guys down if that’s what they did.”
Wagner also blocked a field goal against Arizona in 2016 when he got a running start, a play that helped lead to the NFL rules change.
That was the infamous 6-6 tie.
This time, Wagner’s leap turned the game around.
“It’s a totally different ballgame if they don’t score,’’ Wagner said. “So you block the field goal and Russ moves them down there and those guys go down there and score and now they are looking at 14-0. So it’s the difference between 14-0 and 6-3. So it’s just always cool to do something big in the fourth quarter.’’
The Seahawks then drove 63 yards in seven plays, all runs, sparked by Wilson’s 40-yarder on a second-and-eight.
Seattle finished with 214 rushing yards — its second-highest total of the season — on 42 carries, offsetting Wilson completing just 10 of 20 passes, none for longer than 14 yards, with a career-low 37.9 passer rating.
“Whenever you run it 40-something times you ought to win,’’ Carroll said. “So that was pretty good.’’
Good enough, anyway.