OK, so the final minutes got a little hairy in the Seahawks’ 37-30 victory over the Vikings on Monday night at CenturyLink Field.
OK, a lot hairy.
But take away about six plays, and this was mostly domination for the Seahawks against what had been one of the hottest teams in the NFC – the Vikings had won six of seven with the only defeat a three-pointer at Kansas City.
But Seattle gained 444 yards, including a season-high 218 on the ground, by far the most allowed this year by Minnesota. And though Seattle allowed 354 yards, that was 24 yards fewer than the Vikings had been averaging – and includes the 58 yards on the busted-coverage touchdown.
And maybe as impressive as anything was holding the Vikings to just 78 yards rushing, the third fewest of the season for a Minnesota team that came in ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing at 142.5 yards a game.
Combine that kind of play up front with a defense that forced three turnovers, the running game and Russell Wilson, and suddenly just about anything feels possible for the Seahawks.
And just think of this – if the Seahawks win Sunday in Los Angeles against the Rams and the 49ers beat the Saints in New Orleans, then Seattle would hold the top playoff seed in the NFC.
Everything possible, indeed.
On to some grades.
There was one really bad play – the tipped pass and then Wilson batting the ball forward resulting in a pick six. Coach Pete Carroll said later that Wilson was doing as taught, trying to knock the ball down. It couldn’t have been more disastrous.
But as he always seems to do, Wilson shook it off to immediately lead a field-goal drive, at the end of the first half and then lead scoring drives on the first four possessions of the second half and ended up with a fairly regular kind of game if you take out that play – 21 of 31 for 240 yards and two TDs. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 26.
This is now officially tailback by committee, and that appears as if it will work just fine with Chris Carson rebounding to gain 102 yards and Rashaad Penny backing up his breakout game last week with 74 yards. Penny also had four receptions for 33 and a touchdown.
Jacob Hollister had another decent game – 44 yards on six receptions – on a day Luke Willson sat out a second consecutive game because of a hamstring injury. The hope is Willson will be back next week.
A somewhat shaky game here. It felt for a lot of the game as if the receivers couldn’t get open – Tyler Lockett seems obviously not 100% yet dealing with his shin injury and the flu (Carroll said as much later). DK Metcalf had another fumble. And Josh Gordon was invisible after an early third-down catch.
But David Moore turned in one big play that helped save the day, and Metcalf and Gordon also had key third-down grabs to spark the first touchdown drive.
Maybe the best day of the season for this group, especially considering the opposition. George Fant was huge in his role as an eligible tackle/tight end, getting his most work of the season.
And Wilson appeared to usually have time to throw as Minnesota’s vaunted ends – Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen – were held to just one quarterback hit (a sack for no yards by Hunter that was more due to the coverage). Give a lot of credit for that to left tackle Duane Brown and especially Germain Ifedi. He’s been oft-criticized in his Seattle tenure but he appears to be playing some of his best ball as he ends his fourth season in the NFL.
Also, Seattle did not have a single offensive penalty.
A mostly good game here.
Rasheem Green, who had maybe the best game of his two years with the Seahawks last week, had another big play with the forced fumble of Dalvin Cook early in the third quarter – his second forced fumble in two weeks.
Jadeveon Clowney shook off the core muscle injury that held him out last week and had a forced fumble.
Ziggy Ansah had another really good game with three quarterback hits and a pass defense, and Jarran Reed shook off his injury for two QB hits.
Seattle didn’t have a sack, but the Seahawks did have seven QB hits, all but one from the line.
There were a few shaky moments early, notably K.J. Wright missing an open-field tackle on fullback C.J. Ham that led to a 36-yard gain.
But it was mostly good from there as Wagner finished with 10 tackles and Wright nine and their play was pivotal in holding down Minnesota’s running attack.
The Seahawks again used Shaquem Griffin as an edge rusher in obvious passing situations, and he batted down one pass.
Rookie Cody Barton entered the game in the second quarter to play strongside linebacker with Mychal Kendricks ailing because of a hamstring injury. But Kendricks came back for the second half.
A little hit and miss – the blown coverage on the Laquon Treadwell touchdown was an obvious communication mistake that the team can’t make too often.
And Tre Flowers got flagged for pass interference on third down to set up another Vikings TD.
But Flowers also had a pick, and Bradley McDougald a fumble recovery.
Quandre Diggs had a massive hit early on tight end Irv Smith that seemed to help set the tone.
And Akeem King, again playing nickel, had the big fourth-down pass defense on Minnesota’s final possession.
The Seahawks had good kicking (Jason Myers 3 of 3 on field goals, Michael Dickson downing each of his three punts inside the 20-yard line) and good coverage and came up with one of the more entertaining plays of the game – a 29-yard run by Travis Homer on a fake punt in the fourth quarter after Seattle had been forced to punt with the Vikings having cut the deficit to 10.