The Seahawks went into the locker room trailing by a touchdown at halftime Monday night. What followed was an onslaught of big plays on offense, takeaways by the defense, and a 24-0 run that allowed Seattle to take control of an NFC showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Seahawks appeared to be in danger of losing control after building that big lead, but they held on for a 37-30 victory that improved their record to 10-2, and combined with the 49ers' loss to Baltimore Sunday, moved them into first place in the NFC West.
Here are six rapid reactions to the Seahawks' fifth straight win:
1. The defense came through with big plays again.
Following back-to-back impressive performances in wins over the 49ers and Eagles, the Seahawks defense didn't exactly get off to a great start. Thanks in large part to a few missed tackles, the Vikings quickly marched 83 yards on just six plays for a touchdown on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead.
After that touchdown, however, Minnesota's next seven possessions went punt, punt, field goal, punt, fumble, punt, interception as the defense asserted itself in a big way. Among those coming up big were Rasheem Green, who forced his second turnover in as many weeks, ripping a ball loose from running back Dalvin Cook that Bradley McDougald recovered; and Tre Flowers, who made a very impressive play to break up a pass, then come down with an interception. Those two takeaways led to 10 Seahawks points as part of their 24-0 run in the third quarter and early fourth quarter.
The Vikings did respond with two touchdown drives one of which was the result of a blown coverage, so it was hardly a perfect finish for Seattle's defense, but the Seahawks did get a big fourth-down stop on an Akeem King pass breakup to help secure the win.
2. Big mistakes made the game closer than it should have been.
The Seahawks came away with a win, which in the end is all that matters, but the game was a lot closer than it needed to be if not for a few very costly mistakes that contributed to 21 of Minnesota's 30 points. First, the Vikings got a touchdown on one of the stranger pick-sixes you'll ever see. After a Russell Wilson pass attempt was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Armon Watts, Seattle's quarterback tried to bat the ball down, something he has successfully done in the past, but instead of knocking the ball harmlessly down, he instead accidentally knocked it forward and right into the arms of safety Anthony Harris, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
In the second half when the Seahawks appeared to be in control of the game, the Vikings struck back quickly to cut into a 17-point lead when a coverage bust left Minnesota receiver Laquan Treadwell completely uncovered for a 58-yard touchdown. On Seattle's ensuing possession, DK Metcalf fumbled after securing a third-down catch, a turnover that set up a Vikings touchdown drive that made it a one-score game.
3. Carson and Penny were an impressive one-two punch at running back.
For most of the season, Chris Carson has been the clear No. 1 back, keeping Rashaad Penny from getting very many opportunities, but last week Penny came through with a big game, gaining a career-high 129 yards in a win over the Eagles.
That naturally led to the question of what the Seahawks would do going forward with their two backs playing well, and on Monday at least, the answer was to get them both involved in a big way.
Carson again got the start and led the way with 23 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown, his fifth 100-yard game of the season, but Penny had a big role as well, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Penny also had four catches for 33 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown reception.
With those two leading the way, the Seahawks rushed for a season-high 218 yards against a Vikings defense that ranked sixth in the NFL in run defense coming into the game, allowing 94.2 rushing yards per game.
4. Special teams played a big role in the win.
Playing against one of the NFC's top teams, the Seahawks needed to come through in all three phases of the game, and their play on special teams shouldn't be overlooked. The most obvious play was Malik Turner's forced fumble on the Vikings' final kick return, which was recovered by Travis Homer to keep the Vikings from having a shot at a game-tying drive, but that was hardly the only special teams moment worth mentioning. Homer also had a 29-yard run on a fake punt—and don't overlook Tyler Ott's snap there, which is at an odd angle to hit Homer as the up back.
Michael Dickson also had all three of his punts downed inside the 20, and dating back to last week's game, eight of his last nine punts have been downed inside the 20. Jason Myers, meanwhile, was three for three on field goals and four for four on extra points.
5. K.J. Wright hit some notable milestones.
With nine tackles on Monday, linebacker K.J. Wright moved passed Keith Butler for third place on Seattle's all-time tackles list, trailing only teammate Bobby Wagner and former safety Eugene Robinson.
Wright also now has 104 tackles this season, marking the sixth time in the past seven seasons he has gone over 100 tackles.
6. The Seahawks came through on third down.
The Seahawks didn't have an offensive penalty on Monday, and as a result they avoided getting into a lot of third-and-long situations. With manageable down-and-distance situations, the Seahawks went 7 for 15 on third down, including a 60-yard Russell Wilson touchdown pass to David Moore on third-and-5, and a big 11-yard run by Chris Carson on third-and-short late in the game to help run down the clock.