Seahawks ride big plays to big win over the Vikings

Posted Nov 17, 2013

All three phases made major contributions on Sunday, as the Seahawks ran their record to 10-1 with an impressive 41-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field.

As Russell Wilson’s pass was heading toward Percy Harvin, the past 12 months that have been filled with too many surgeries (two, and a season-ending ankle injury) and not enough big plays (zero) flashed through Harvin’s mind at a rate that’s almost as a explosively fast as he is.

Harvin, making his debut for his new team (the Seahawks) against his former team (the Vikings), tipped the ball with his right hand and then controlled it as he was falling to the turf at CenturyLink Field on Sunday for a 17-yard gain on a third-and-10 play.

“Man, I can’t even describe that play,” Harvin said through a huge smile. “Just for me to be able to be on the field again … so emotionally it was just good to get out there and be with my teammates again.” 

It was only one play in an afternoon packed with them for the Seahawks – including Harvin’s 58-yard kickoff return – but Harvin’s impact in his first game since last Nov. 4 slapped an exclamation point on the Seahawks’ impressive 41-20 victory.

And this wasn’t just another win for a team that prides itself on taking each game as the most important of the season, and just the latest opportunity to go 1-0.

The Seahawks are 10-1 for the first time in their 38-year history. They became only the seventh team in franchise history to hit double-digit victories, and they’re also the first to do it in back-to-back seasons.

They lead the NFC by 3½ games over the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals – both 6-4, and each already with a loss to the Seahawks. The Seahawks also have a 1½-game lead over the New Orleans Saints for the best record in the conference as they head into their bye week – with games against the Saints on “Monday Night Football” at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 2 and the 49ers at Candlestick Park on Dec. 8 on the other side of that bye.

Yes, life is good if you’re a Seahawk, and things have only gotten better with the addition of Harvin and the returns of Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Breno Giacomini after missing eight, nine and seven games, respectively, because of injuries.

“To have a guy like Percy, it changes the game,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after running his record at CenturyLink Field to 13-0 and in the regular season to 21-6. “We haven’t even started yet.”

As we said, this game did not come down to the pair of Percy plays.

Marshawn Lynch scored three touchdowns, giving him 11. He had scoring runs of 4 yards and 1 yard and also took a flip pass from Wilson for a 6-yard TD.

Wilson completed 13 passes – to nine different receivers – in 18 attempts for 230 yards and two TD passes for a career-high 151.4 passer rating.

The defense intercepted three passes on consecutive Vikings possessions as the Seahawks scored 17 points in a three-minute span of the fourth quarter, including a pick-six by cornerback Walter Thurmond; and held Adrian Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries after he had 182 yards in last season’s game against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

The special teams held Cordarrelle Patterson to a 29.3-yard average on four kickoff returns – below his league-leading average of 35.2 yards entering the game; and Marcus Sherels to no punt returns – and he entered the game with a league-best 16.3-yard average.

And it was all needed, as the Vikings actually held advantages in total yards (336-323), offensive plays (70-50), rushing yards (132-93) and time of possession (34:09-25:51).

But this time, the Vikings didn’t have Percy Harvin. And the Seahawks did, finally, as the team and its fans got their first game-day look at the player who was acquired in a trade in March and has endured so much since the teams played in Seattle last Nov. 4.

Harvin injured an ankle in that game that would end his season. He also had an appendectomy last December, when the doctors also found a tumor and removed it. Then came his hip surgery Aug. 1, which forced him to miss the preseason and the first 10 games of the regular season.

“A lot of people don’t know I had a lot of surgeries,” Harvin said. “So there was a lot built into this game other than just my hip.”

Coach Pete Carroll had said all week that Harvin would not return kickoffs. He remained firm Sunday, Harvin said, even after Jermaine Kearse went out with a concussion after taking a big hit while returning the kickoff following a Vikings’ field goal in the first quarter.

“That was a work in progress all week long,” Harvin said of his put-me-in-coach dialogue with Carroll. “Me. I’ve been having some of the teammates yell at him; some of the coaching staff. But he came to me before the game and he let me know he didn’t feel real comfortable with me doing it this game. But I kept drilling him and drilling him.

“When Kearse went down, I still asked him and he still wasn’t too sure about it. So I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who did what. But he just ran and shouted at me, ‘Get your tail in there.’ ”

So, what did happen to make Carroll relent?

“We had talked about that at great length, and I was hoping to get him one somewhere in the game,” Carroll said. “Had we not needed it, maybe we wouldn’t do it. It just worked out. The opportunity was just right and he took full advantage of it.”

Just like Harvin’s teammates had been doing in the first 10 games when they were waiting for his return, and eager to see what he could add to an already good team.

“I don’t know how we’re going to use him, to be honest with you,” said wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who had his own big play by hauling in a 19-yard pass from Wilson in the end zone just before halftime. “But I think that he’s going to be a key contributor, not only in the passing game but to the running game as well.

“You’ve got to account for a guy of his talent and his athleticism, so he’s going to be big-time for us. To be honest with you, I have no idea what the ceiling is.”

That can apply to Harvin or the team he just joined.