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There’s no place like home
When the topic turned to Adrian Peterson in the Seahawks’ locker room, Red Bryant could only shake his head. It was one of those body language things that was equal parts disbelief, respect and, yes, even satisfaction.
The NFL’s leading rusher had just run for 182 yards against a defense that had been allowing an average of 84.9, including a 74-yarder on the second play of the game.
But Bryant, the Seahawks’ 330-pound defensive end, also was smiling. That’s because rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had just passed for three touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch had run for 124 yards and another score and the defense had limited Peterson to 38 rushing yards in the second half of a 30-20 victory at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
“That first half, he punched us in the face,” Bryant said of Peterson running for 144 yards in the first two quarters. “And when you get hit in the mouth like that and taste adversity, you can go either way. We knew if we didn’t stop him that was going to make our chances of winning slim, if not none.
“But everybody kept their chin high and their chest out and we went out and got a big win. That goes to show you about this team.”
Despite Peterson’s impressive afternoon, which also included first-half touchdown runs of one and four yards, the Seahawks opened the second half of their season with a victory that lifted their record to 5-4 and kept them unbeaten in four games home games – with four of their remaining seven regular-season games also at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks trail the NFC West-leading – and idle this Sunday – San Francisco 49ers (6-2) by a game and a half. And the only non-division leader with a better record than the Seahawks is the Green Bay Packers (6-3), a team the Seahawks upset at home in Week 3.
Coach Pete Carroll had talked all week about getting a victory that would not only christen the “beginning of the finish,” as he put it, but also serve as another indicator that this young team is growing while heading in the right direction.
“We put a lot of pressure on our guys to play well today and to get things done and get this thing going,” Carroll said.
Whatever the Vikings threw – or ran – at the Seahawks, they had an answer on this cloudy afternoon.
After Peterson scored on his 1-yard run to cap the Vikings’ game-opening drive, Wilson countered with a 6-yard TD pass to Golden Tate, and then gave the Seahawks the lead with an 11-yard scoring pass to Sidney Rice. Both in the first quarter.
After Peterson scored on his 4-yard run and rookie Blair Walsh kicked a field goal to give the Vikings a 17-14 lead, Wilson and Tate answered again. This time with a short pass that became an 11-yard TD as Tate launched himself up and over Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson.
“I thought I was in, but you know how that all goes.”
The second half was closing time for the Seahawks, who lost a fourth-quarter lead in last week’s setback to the Lions in Detroit and also failed to punch the ball in at the end of fourth-quarter possessions in road losses at Arizona and St. Louis. Sunday, they controlled the ball for nine minutes in the third quarter, when Lynch added his touchdown run. They dominated the fourth quarter by controlling the ball for more than 12 minutes.
“I was real proud of how hard we played and how tough we played and how we responded at halftime and put together a really good second half,” Carroll said.
Wilson completed 16 of 24 passes – despite having three of his balls dropped in the first quarter – for 173 yards and the three touchdowns. He also ran or scrambled nine times for 27 yards, including a keeper to pick up the first down on a fourth-and-1 play during the 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his third TD pass.
It was the kind of performance that showed the offense is continuing to grow under its rookie QB.
“It was a huge win for us today,” said Wilson, who has yet to throw an interception in four home games. “I definitely believe we are getting more comfortable; the more you play, the more you practice, the more you communicate through the week.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, just stay the course and just keep believing in what we’re doing.”
The way Wilson is going, his teammates are believing in him even more as he leads this team into the second half of the season.
“Russell is playing really well,” center Max Unger said. “We’ve just got to keep guys off him so he can find open receivers. He’s maturing.”
The defense chipped in with an interception by cornerback Brandon Browner in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the deal with 5½ minutes to play; a fumble-forcing/fumble-recovery play by nickel back Marcus Trufant in the first quarter that setup Wilson’s first TD pass; and four sacks of Vikings QB Christian Ponder.
A crowd of 67,584 roared its approval with each and every play.
“I wouldn’t say it was a must win, but we definitely needed it,” Rice said after catching four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, and also throwing a 25-yard pass to tight end Zach Miller against his former team.
“We need the rest of these games coming up, and fortunately for us four out of the next seven are at home. We use this crowd for energy. We feed off them and we’re thankful we have them.”