What you saw in that dominating defensive performance against the Vikings on Monday Night Football was a watershed moment for the Seahawks' young, rebuilt defense. As the playoffs near, this looks like a complete Seahawks team.
Russell Wilson has gifted his offensive linemen televisions, first-class plane tickets and Bose SoundTouch 300 soundbars over the years. But after that game against the Vikings, he might have to get his defense something even better.
For a second, Monday night looked like it would go down as a deflating Seahawks defeat marked by the worst game of the veteran quarterback’s career. Instead, it will be remembered as a coming-of-age performance by the guys on the other side of the ball.
No, Seattle didn’t pull off its first shutout since 2015 in that 21-7 win over Minnesota. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook scored on a 6-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins with 1:10 left to play.
But it was still a watershed moment for fans who once cheered on Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, among others. For the first time all season, they forgot they weren’t around.
“Richard Sherman and his era is over here,” said Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark.
The eye test told you this thing should have been over at halftime. Through the first two quarters, the Seahawks (8-5) had 175 net yards to the Vikings’ 61. But impressive as Minnesota’s defense has been this season, the Seahawks’ own brains were their biggest deterrents.
First, offensive lineman Jordan Simmons got an unnecessary-roughness penalty that took Seattle out of field-goal range early in the second quarter. On their next possession, clock mismanagement cost the Seahawks 79 seconds over three plays, forcing them to burn their final timeout with 0:16 remaining in the half.
Then, on first-and-goal from the 1, a scrambling Wilson flicked the ball into the hands of Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, who fell to the ground and ended the half with Seattle up, 3-0.
The careless pass epitomized Wilson’s night. His 72 passing yards were the lowest of his career, and his passer rating of 37.9 was his worst.
Fortunately, Seattle’s defense played the best it has all year. Shoot, it might have played the best it has in several years.
How else do you explain Cousins — who came into the game averaging 290 passing yards per game — being held to 27 in the first half and 56 through the first three quarters? How else do you explain how Adam Thielen — who entered the game with 98 catches — not even getting a target until the third quarter.
By night’s end, the Vikings (6-6-1) had accumulated 77 yards on the ground and 208 in the air. But the game-defining moments? Those all came from Seattle.
Trailing 6-0 early in the fourth quarter, Minnesota had first-and-goal from the Seahawks’ 4. Four plays later, Bradley McDougald broke up a 1-yard pass from Cousins to keep the Vikings scoreless.
Trailing 6-0 later in the fourth quarter, Minnesota had it fourth-and-9 from the Seahawks’ 29. One snap later, Bobby Wagner jumped over the Vikings’ linemen and blocked the field-goal try.
Trailing 14-0 near the end of the fourth quarter, Minnesota had it second-and-10 from its own 25. One snap later, linebacker Jacob Martin knocked the ball away from Cousins, then watched cornerback Justin Coleman return the fumble to the end zone.
These were the types of plays the Seahawks would churn out routinely during the Legion of Boom days. This level of defensive domination is what sent the Seahawks to Super Bowls.
One week after giving up more than 400 yards passing to 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, a night like Monday seemed almost impossible. But by the end of the third quarter, so did a Vikings’ score.
“We had something to prove,” said Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers, who voluntarily cited San Francisco’s passing numbers from last week. “We wanted to hold them down, and I thought we did a good job.”
Wagner’s block may have been the highlight of the game, but the stars of the night were on Seattle’s secondary. Flowers, McDougald, Tedric Thompson and Shaquill Griffin each had critical breakups and all but erased Cousins’ receivers. Yes, the Vikings marched 70 yards for a TD in the final minutes of the game, but that was garbage time against a virtual prevent defense. It shouldn’t detract from the effort as a whole.
Funny, two weeks into the season, an 0-2 Seahawks squad looked broken. Midway through the season, a 4-4 Seahawks squad looked potent offensively but weak on D. More than three quarters into the season, an 8-5 Seahawks squad looks potent everywhere and capable of beating the best.
And that’s coming after their quarterback was at his worst.