Four good minutes — and maybe the most amazing of Russell Wilson’s 34 game-winning drives — was all it took Sunday night for the Seahawks to beat the Minnesota Vikings and improve to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
That paragraph admittedly makes it all sound a lot simpler than it really was.
“This game was really crazy,’’ said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “It was something.’’
Then, indicative of the daze that the finish left just about everybody in, Carroll asked someone for the final score.
For the record, it was 27-26 Seattle in what was the third time this year the Seahawks pulled off a victory in the final minute with the key play coming in the final seconds.
This time, there were 15 seconds left, compared to six vs. Dallas and zero vs. New England.
If all those games might be taking years off fans’ lives, Seahawks coaches and players point to their experience in persevering in those games for how they were able to get it done one more time.
“We’ve been here before,’’ Wilson said he kept telling teammates. “ … We’ve been here before and we know what’s going to happen.’’
Still, the degree of difficulty in this one was at the top of the comebacks Wilson has led in his career.
Seattle trailed 13-0 at the end of a lifeless first half in which it was outgained 217-66, the Vikings holding the ball for 20:16 and the Seahawks explosive offense seeming washed away in the rain.
At halftime, Carroll said he told the players calmly that this a game like this was going to happen during the season and the trick was not to panic.
“We went into halftime, and I reminded them that in camp one day we stopped practice because we weren’t as clean as we needed to be and we talked about (how) there’s going to be a halftime (that’ll) come up here where we’re going to be behind, we will have not done anything in the first half and we’re going to turn the thing right around in time and patiently go through the steps it takes to come back in the game,’’ Carroll said.
As Carroll admitted later, he could not have imagined just how quickly the Seahawks would get back in it.
After a three-and-out to start the half, Seattle finally mounted a drive capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass to Will Dissly, his first since his brutal Achilles injury almost exactly a year before at Cleveland with 9:55 to play in the third quarter.
Three plays later, Seattle’s Damontre Moore forced a Kirk Cousins fumble, and two plays later Wilson hit DK Metcalf for a 13-yard TD to put Seattle ahead 14-13.
On the next play, a Cousins pass was intercepted by K.J. Wright — who had dropped three potential picks last week — and on the next play Chris Carson rumbled for a 29-yard TD, plowing through perennial Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith to put Seattle ahead 21-13.
“There’s the avalanche,’’ Carroll said he thought later.
But the Vikings stopped it there, responding with drives of 77 and 97 yards to retake the lead, sandwiched around a Seattle punt.
Seattle got the ball back with 7:08 left, down 26-21, and apparent disaster struck as Wilson rolled and threw an interception to Minnesota’s Eric Wilson, who returned it to the 50 with 5:45 left.
The Vikings then used six running plays to set up a fourth-and-1 at the 6 with two minutes left.
The Vikings could have kicked a field goal to take an eight-point lead and assure the worst Seattle could do is force overtime. But the Vikings wanted the kill shot, and Carroll said he understood, given the way the Vikings had run it all day.
“When you watch them go down the field on us, why would we think we could stop them on fourth down?’’ Carroll said. “But we did.’’
Indeed, Benson Mayowa and Wagner teamed for the stop and Wright said at that point he thought to himself “we’re about to win. You guys should see the confidence that we had on the sidelines.’’
Seattle, though, had to convert two fourths on the play to win it.
The first came when on a fourth and 1 from the 23 Wilson found Metcalf down the left side against Minnesota rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler to the 38.
It sort of felt inevitable at that point even if it wasn’t.
Two plays later, Wilson then moved out of pressure to the right and hit Tyler Lockett for 17 yards to the 21 with one minute left.
Two plays after that, Wilson hit Metcalf on a slant pass for 15 yards to the 6.
The next play went off the hands of Lockett near the goal line, stopping the clock with 28 seconds left.
A second-down pass to Metcalf was knocked out of his hands by Mike Hughes.
A third-down fade pass to Metcalf was incomplete in the back right of the end zone giving Seattle one last shot with 20 seconds left.
Seattle then used its final time out.
If there was anxiety in some places, Carroll said there wasn’t on the Seattle sideline.
“It was just so poised,’’ Carroll said. “The players were so poised, the coaches were so poised. We talked through every single instance that was happening there.’’
Wilson sat calmly behind the line and waited for Metcalf to get open behind Harris.
“I saw DK run across the field and just try to zoom in in there to him and tight window and he just made an unbelievable catch, unbelievable play,’’ Wilson said.
It happened again in the north end zone, where so many crazy things have before, just as the Seahawks insisted they thought it would.
“It just fortifies why they believe,’’ Carroll said. “It just adds on, adds on, adds on to why they should keep hanging and fighting tough and outlasting the people that we’re playing. It’s just going to make us that much stronger facing whatever the odds are, the issues down the road.’’