A sampling of national-media reaction after Russell Wilson and the Seahawks slipped past the Vikings, 10-9, in a wild-card game that was one of the coldest contests in NFL history.
The Seahawks found a cure for uncommon cold: a playoff victory.
Seattle put together enough offense, then watched Blair Walsh miss a 27-yard field goal in the final seconds, to give the Seahawks a 10-9 victory over the Vikings in what was the third-coldest game in NFL history. The Seahawks rallied with 10 points in a span of 3:33 to take the lead halfway through the fourth quarter, thanks to some improvisation by Russell Wilson after a bad snap and a forced turnover by Kam Chancellor that led to a Steven Hauschka field goal.
What does it all mean? The Seahawks earned a trip to Carolina to face the 15-1 Panthers in the NFC divisional round. Carolina beat Seattle, 27-23, at CenturyLink Field in October, a game that dropped the Seahawks to 2-4.
They’ve only lost twice since then.
The national media had plenty to chew on after such a topsy-turvy, frigid wild-card game. There was plenty of praise for Wilson and the defense, and some were already looking ahead to next weekend’s game. Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com gave the Seahawks a 45 percent chance of beating the Panthers, a 22 percent chance of winning the NFC and 13 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl.
Here’s a sampling of what others had to say about the Seahawks this weekend:
Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback, who quoted Vikings play-by-play announcer calling Sunday’s game “an absolute aorta-smasher,” sized up the game in Carolina this way:
“Four regular-season meetings between the Pete Carroll Seahawks and the Ron Rivera Panthers. Seattle by 4 in 2012. Seattle by 5 in 2013. Seattle by 4 in 2014. Carolina by 4 this season. What’s always interesting in a divisional-round game is how the two teams enter in different states. Seattle comes off an emotional firestorm of a North Pole game in Minnesota, then travels for a second straight game at 10 a.m. PT. Carolina has been able to get extra rest for Ted Ginn Jr. (knee), who missed Week 17, and with two of the top four corners (Bene Benwikere and Charles Tillman) out for the year, Josh Norman and Cortland Finnegan will have to be every-down factors against Russell Wilson. Wilson versus Cam Newton should be appointment TV for the next decade in the NFL, and the best man will be the winner Sunday.”
MMQB’s Andy Benoit made the case for why this is the most dangerous Seahawks team:
“The good news for the Seahawks: Nowhere do style points mean less than in the NFL postseason. Each round forces you to face your season’s mortality; the relief of advancing outweighs any lessons that can be taken away from an ugly win. (And more good news: The weather in Charlotte this weekend calls for temperatures in the 50s.) An epically frigid afternoon in Minneapolis affected the Seahawks’ passing attack, preventing wild-card viewers from seeing the most significant facet of this team’s 2015 stretch run: Russell Wilson’s improvements in the pocket. Consider it Exhibit A in the case for this being the most dangerous Seahawks team yet.”
Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop said this is Wilson’s team now:
“Well, this, the past two months, this is Russell Wilson football. This is a Seahawks team that found its offensive identity after it lost Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham to injuries, a team that always won games with its defense but can now win because of its quarterback, not in spite of him (a notion that always seemed a bit harsh). This is a team with a true No. 1 receiver in Baldwin, with an elite quarterback in Wilson and with an offensive line that remains the largest impediment to Seattle’s chance to win the Super Bowl. But that’s for another week.”
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports focused on the Vikings’ kicker, who had an emotional and nightmarish postgame answering questions:
“Blair Walsh sat in front of his (locker) on Sunday afternoon, sat in a state of disbelief and demoralization, sat with the knowledge that his hooked 27-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining will be the critical memory of Minnesota losing to Seattle here, 10-9. He sat, for a moment, and overwhelmed by pain, overwhelmed by failure, cried into his arm.”
Wetzel, in a separate column, also broke down the Wilson play that turned thigs around for the Seahawks:
“If nothing else, it was the product of his patience, perhaps born from his baseball days when you can go 0 for 3, 0 for 4 and still hit the game-winning home run. Or, perhaps from football, from winning a Super Bowl two years ago and reaching another last year via a wild late comeback against Green Bay. Through three quarters he passed for 82 yards and one interception. In the fourth he delivered 60 and a touchdown. And yet he never panicked, never pressed, never pointed fingers. Even when he was chasing down a potential game-ending fumble as half the Vikings descended on him.”
Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner blog listed Wilson as one of his winners of the weekend and Marshawn Lynch as one of his losers:
“Carroll said he didn’t know if Lynch would play next week against the Carolina Panthers. Is it truly a physical issue or is there something more going on? Lynch so rarely shares his thoughts, it’s always tough to tell. The Seahawks have been winning without him, including Sunday’s playoff win over the Vikings. If you had to guess at this moment, you’d say that Lynch is nearing the end of the line with the Seahawks.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer was impressed by the quarterback pedigree in the divisional games:
‘The divisional round is a nine-ring circus. Each of the four games features at least one Super Bowl-winning quarterback, and there are nine championship rings among them. New England’s Tom Brady has four, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger has two, Denver’s Peyton Manning, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, and Seattle’s Russell Wilson one each.”
Michael Powell of The New York Times captured the Seahawks’ never-say-die mentality:
“Team Houdini was up to its old tricks, crawling out of another trap of its own devising. The Seahawks began the season playing so poorly, going 2-4, that they appeared almost out of the postseason race by mid-October. Then, as this team is prone to do, it crawled out of its crypt.”
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal praised the Seahawks for their constant ability to rally in the playoffs:
“The kick shouldn’t distract us from the Seahawks‘ excellent comeback. They are getting to be old hands at fourth quarter comebacks in the NFC playoffs, scoring 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson‘s performance was very reminiscent of last season’s NFC Championship Game. He struggled early and saved his best for last. His best play was an improvised 35-yard toss to Tyler Lockett on a play that should have been a 20-yard loss. He also escaped a few sacks and connected on key third downs after the Seahawks fell behind 9-0.”
Judy Battista of NFL.com praised the Seahawks’ ability to create magic, but also said issues remain:
“Not all was right for the Seahawks, not yet at least. They are still having trouble protecting Wilson — the offensive line has been a concern all year and the Vikings pass rush gave them fits on Sunday. On first-and-10 from the Vikings‘ 29 came a prime example. Griffen, who had helped limit Wilson all day, had Wilson in his sights again. Wilson was in his grasp, but the Seahawks quarterback was already thinking about a field goal on that drive and about dragging Griffen out of the tackle box to prevent being called for intentional grounding. Wilson has a strong enough arm that even with Griffen draped on him, he was able to chuck the ball across his body and out of bounds. It was a potential disaster avoided and the Seahawks marched on to kick a field goal that gave them the lead.”
The Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer aren’t just lucky, they’re also very good:
“The Vikings played the perfect game, and they still could not beat the Seahawks in the playoffs. The Packers know the feeling. The Panthers better be prepared to avoid said feeling. Anybody who thinks Seattle was lucky to escape Sunday’s 10-9 victory in Minnesota isn’t seeing the big picture. When it counts the most, even when things look the coldest, the Seahawks are built to chill; stay cooler than their competition.”
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com had a couple of Seahawks-related questions as he looked ahead to the divisional round:
“Is Charlotte the new Seattle? For the past couple of years, Seattle was the place you didn’t want to have to play in the NFC playoffs. But while they don’t have some weird flag-raising ceremony about it before every game, the Panthers’ home-field advantage has turned into the conference’s fiercest. Carolina is on an 11-game home winning streak that includes last year’s playoff victory, and beat its opponents by an average of 33-17 at home this season. The Panthers also beat the Seahawks in Seattle, storming in and swiping the two-time defending conference champions’ home-field mojo in person.”
ESPN.com’s John Clayton said it was a familiar script that led to the Seahawks’ victory:
“Pete Carroll’s formula of success, with new coordinators year after year, has been to run a simple but stifling defense, win the turnover battle and eventually get a quarterback who can win games in the fourth quarter. Sunday’s 10-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings illustrated that if a team can be good on defense, it can also be lucky (or quite lucky in the case of a missed field goal) and win on a day when little else seemed to go right, especially with Wilson’s offense without Marshawn Lynch.”
Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com said the offense did just enough to win:
“It wasn’t pretty. The weather conditions clearly had an effect on the Seahawks’ offense, which had averaged 31.25 points per game in the second half of the season. But in the end, Seattle is moving on. And now the Seahawks will go to Carolina with hopes of returning to the Super Bowl for the third straight season.”
USA Today’s Tom Pelissero captured the utter disbelief in the Seahawks’ locker room after the game:
“The Seahawks have erased deficits on the way to the past two
Sean Wagner-McGough of CBSSports.com listed the defense as one of the keys to the Seahawks’ victory:
“Entering the game, one of the key matchups figured to be Minnesota’s run game vs. Seattle’s run defense. Adrian Peterson won the regular season rushing title with 1,485 yards or 92.8 yards per game. The Seahawks allowed just 81.5 rushing yards per game — the best mark in the league. On Sunday, Peterson was limited to just 45 yards on 23 carries. As a whole, the Vikings’ offense racked up 183 yards for an average of 3.3 yards per play. The Seahawks’ offense didn’t fare much better, going for 226 yards — an average of 4.0 yards per play. Though the Vikings’ defense held Seattle in check, they failed to come up with game-changing plays (see: Wilson’s botched-snap pass above). The Seahawks’ defense, on the other hand, didn’t let the Vikings into the end zone.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune could only discuss what could have been:
“Coach Mike Zimmer crossed his arms and stared off into the setting sun behind the uprights. As they had done throughout the 2015 season, his young Vikings had exceeded expectations Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. Now they would be left to wonder what might have been heading into another long, uncertain offseason.”