Book it. These Seahawks are headed back to the playoffs. At least that's the general consensus after Seattle overcame an underwhelming offensive performance to beat the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
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Here’s what the national media are saying about the Seahawks’ show of defensive might.
ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner says the salty Seahawks could wreak havoc in the postseason.
Technically, mathematically, the Seattle Seahawks have not yet clinched a playoff berth. But, barring something catastrophic, the Seahawks will again be playing in the games that matter most come January. … This win was undoubtedly ugly, with yards hard to come by and points even more scarce. And that’s exactly what should concern Seattle’s potential playoff opponents. These Seahawks aren’t the same as the group that lorded over the NFC in recent years, but they’re following a similar blueprint that has long been a tried-and-true formula for postseason success. … In this, the era of golden-armed quarterbacks and scoreboard-busting offense, there’s still some room out there for good defense and a power running game. The Chicago Bears showed it Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams, and the Seahawks doubled down Monday against the Vikings. … For much of this season, the Seahawks’ defense hasn’t looked dominant. But if the group that showed up Monday night can continue to build on shutting down the Vikings, it will be exactly the type of salty outfit that can wreak havoc in the postseason.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Ben Goessling says the Vikings were helpless in Seattle.
As the Vikings prepared to fly east through the night, after one of their more ignominious defeats in recent memory, they were still in position for a wild-card berth by virtue of the Week 2 tie in Green Bay that gave them a half-game lead over their challengers for the final NFC playoff spot. … After what happened at CenturyLink Field on Monday night, though, the designation will be of little comfort. Seattle emerged with a 21-7 victory in a defensive battle at rainy CenturyLink Field. … The NFC playoff picture seems in focus, with the four division leaders — New Orleans, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago and Dallas — pulling clear. … Seattle is in the first wild-card spot at 8-5, and the Vikings are in the second wild-card position at 6-6-1.
CBSSports’ Sean Wagner-McGough says Seattle forced another Kirk Cousins nightmare in this ugly win.
Despite taking wildly different paths, the Seahawks and Vikings found themselves in strikingly similar situations on Monday night. After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011,the Seahawks underwent a self-described “reset,” saying goodbye to mainstays like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Cliff Avril. The Vikings, in the aftermath of a crushing defeat in the conference championship game, reloaded by giving Kirk Cousins a fully guaranteed mega-contract and plucking Sheldon Richardson away from Seattle. Yet each team entered Monday night’s Week 14 matchup trailing its respective division leader by a substantial margin, while remaining in control of one of the two wild-card spots the NFC has to offer. Monday night’s victor would take one giant leap toward securing the fifth playoff seed while the loser would provide a target for the cluster of sub.-500 teams still in the hunt for a playoff position. … Neither team looked championship worthy in a low-scoring affair induced by both dominant defensive play and horrific offensive execution, but it was the Seahawks who took a stranglehold over the fifth seed with a 21-7 win, stretched their winning streak to four games, pushed their record to 8-5, and extended their lead over the now 6-6-1 Vikings to one-and-a-half games with three weeks remaining on the schedule. The Seahawks should be the top wild-card team in the NFC when the playoffs begin.
NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman says the Seahawks distanced themselves from the wild card pack with their win over the Vikings.
The Seahawks’ defense followed in the footsteps of the Ravens and Bears this week, frustrating the opposing big-time quarterback across the line of scrimmage, forcing stops with crushing pressure and proving that, in today’s NFL, defense can still be king. Led by Bobby Wagner, Frank Clark and a transcendent Shaquill Griffin, Seattle nearly shut out Kirk Cousins and an overwhelmed Vikings offense and held Minnesota to just 276 total yards. Minnesota attempted to lean on Dalvin Cook early, but the back never broke out. The dynamic duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were, save for one spectacular Diggs catch, held in check by Griffin and Tre Flowers. The Vikings were an anemic 2-for-10 on third downs and didn’t score until the game’s dying embers. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and his staff deserve an immense amount of credit for turning this supposed rebuilding defense into a playoff-bound unit.
Bergman also says it’s time to stump for Bobby Wagner as the NFL’s MVP.
If we’re going to consider in good earnest defensive game-wreckers Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack for league MVP, then we should start to include Wagner in that conversation. The last Boomer standing followed up his Defensive Player of the Week showing against San Francisco with a complete performance on Monday night. Wagner led the team in tackles, stood up Latavius Murray on a crucial third-quarter fourth-down stop with help from Clark and thwarted a fourth-quarter field-goal attempt by leaping over two of his defensive linemen. On review, it appeared Wagner used his teammates as leverage, which under an interpretation of the rulebook could’ve constituted a 15-yard penalty and extended a potentially lead-changing Vikings drive. But the refs didn’t blow the whistle, and the Seahawks turned Wagner’s block into seven points and their eighth victory.
Yahoo.com’s Frank Schwab takes a dig at Kirk Cousins and the ineptitude of the Vikings’ offense.
Cousins had another quiet game on Monday night in a big moment for the Vikings. The Vikings didn’t pass midfield against the Seattle Seahawks until the third quarter as Cousins was content to check down almost the entire game. They didn’t score until a garbage touchdown with 1:09 to go in an ugly 21-7 loss. … At 6-6-1, the Vikings are one of the most disappointing teams in the league. They haven’t defeated one team with a winning record all season. The loss to the Seahawks, who improved to 8-5 and are in great position to get a wild-card spot, puts the Vikings in danger of missing the playoffs. It’s not like the Vikings would do much damage in the playoffs anyway. … Quarterbacks get too much credit or blame for wins and losses. But as the Vikings were almost shut out on Monday, it’s fine to blame Cousins. He needed to be better, and he came up small again.
Bleacher Report’s Joseph Zucker says the Seahawks’ stingy defense destroyed Kirk Cousins.
It wasn’t a lot of fun to watch, but the Seahawks’ performance showed what they need to do over the remainder of the season. Especially with Doug Baldwin nursing a hip injury that ruled him out for the game, Seattle is best suited to lean on the running game and count on the defense keeping the opponent out of the end zone. The Seahawks defense in particular stepped up late in the game when one touchdown would’ve put the Vikings ahead. … Looking at the NFC playoff picture, winning ugly should be Seattle’s strategy. … The Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 13 by adopting a physical approach and keeping the Saints offense off the field. Likewise, the Chicago Bears handed the Los Angeles Rams their second loss of the season Sunday after holding Los Angeles to 214 total yards and forcing four turnovers. … The Seahawks don’t have the playmakers to keep up with the Rams or Saints in a track meet. But they can make a deep playoff run by using their smashmouth offense and getting timely stops on defense.
SI.com’s Conor Orr says the Seahawks’ defense is emerging as elite, and it sets up an interesting stylistic clash with some of the league’s high-powered offenses in the playoffs.
While the game featured all the trappings of an offensive boon taking place around the league (both teams have either been funneling collegiate concepts into their system for years, or are making up for it of late), two teams built around a stout, physical defense thudded into one another for the better part of 60 minutes. The closest thing we had to a touchdown in the first half was negated by a Vikings pass rush, which forced a hurried Russell Wilson to float a horrendous interception in front of the goal line. Kirk Cousins went into the break with 27 passing yards, and finished with 208—his third-worst mark of the season. Wilson finished with a career-low 72 yards passing. … Sean McVay, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees—none of it is as readily consumable without the counterweight. Consider Bobby Wagner knifing into the backfield the much-needed acidity in the dish. It may not get the fawning, slow-motion treatment and glowing dissection on the broadcast, but there is something cinematic about watching a middle linebacker lean into the opposing backfield just before the snap when he learns the play. With 2:05 left in the third quarter, Wagner inched forward just before the ball hit Cousins’s hands and eyed the gap between a pair of blocks emerge just as Latavius Murray leaned into the hole. He plowed into Murray and dropped him with a hard shoulder, shuffling away from the play screaming “LET’S GOOOOOOOOO!”