The Seahawks have shown this season they can win by trading scores in high-scoring games, and they’ve shown they can come from behind to win. On Monday night in a game that had big playoff implications for both teams, the Seahawks showed they can also win a defensive struggle, beating the Minnesota Vikings 21-7 in a game that was still touchdown-less until late in the fourth quarter.
Here are five rapid reactions to the Seahawks’ fourth straight win that improved their record to 8-5:
1. The Seahawks defense came to play.
The Seahawks came into the game having given up a concerning amount of yards, and passing yards in particular, in recent games, and were facing a big test in a Kirk Cousins-led Vikings offense that ranked seventh in the league in passing with 274.8 yards per game.
But in a game where Seattle’s offense was struggling against a tough Vikings defense, the Seahawks defense put together what might have been its best performance of the season to lead the Seahawks to victory.
Seattle missed out on a shutout thanks to a late Vikings touchdown when the Seahawks had a three-touchdown lead, but it was still a dominant effort, with Seattle holding Minnesota to just 276 yards and 199 passing yards, many of which came after Seattle held two and three-score leads. Minnesota didn’t even enter Seahawks territory until there was 4:16 left in the third quarter, and that came on a defensive penalty, and didn’t get into the red zone until midway through the fourth quarter. And when the Vikings finally did threaten to score, thanks in large part to a perfect Cousins throw to Stefon Diggs that gained 48 yards, the Seahawks defense came up big in the red zone, stopping the Vikings on fourth-and-goal from the one when Bradley McDougald broke up a pass intended for Kyle Rudolph. That was Seattle’s second fourth-down stop of the game, with Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark combining for a stuff on a fourth-and-1 in the third quarter.
About all Seattle’s dominant defensive performance was missing for most of the game was a turnover, but that came late in the fourth quarter, with rookie Jacob Martin forcing a fumble on a sack of Cousins, and Justin Coleman scooping the loose ball up and returning it 29 yards for a touchdown.
Seattle’s defense also held Adam Thielen, who came into the game with 98 receptions for 1,166 yards and nine 100-yard games, to five catches for 70 yards, with Thielen not recording his first catch until the third-quarter.
2. Minnesota’s defense was nearly as good.
While the Seahawks were able to run the ball well—more on that in a second—it was overall a very difficult day on offense for Russell Wilson and company. Wilson, who has been incredibly efficient of late, throwing 11 touchdowns with no interceptions in his past four games, struggled along with the rest of the passing game, completing 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards and an interception. That interception proved to be particularly costly, coming on first-and-goal and the 1-yard line late in the first half. In particular, the Vikings did a good job taking away the deep ball that has been such a big weapon for the Seahawks in recent weeks.
The Vikings defense that came into the game with the league’s No. 1 third-down defense lived up to the billing, holding the Seahawks to 3 of 11 on third down.
While Wilson didn’t have his best game throwing the ball, he did rush for 63 yards, including a 40-yard scramble late in the fourth quarter that helped set up Chris Carson’s touchdown run that all but put the game on ice.
3. The Seahawks running game is for real… Not that it was really in doubt at this point.
The Seahawks came into Monday’s with the league’s No. 1 rushing offense, and had rushed for 150 or more yards in eight of their last nine games, so there’s no doubt that their running game is legit, but even so, this was a tough challenge facing them on Monday night. Through 12 games, the Vikings ranked seventh in run defense, allowing 99.2 yards per game, and were giving up 3.7 yards per carry, tied for the second-lowest mark in the league.
But on Monday, the Seahawks showed they could run it well even against an elite defense, rushing for 214 yards on 42 carries, good for a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. Carson led the way, rushing for 90 yards and the game’s only touchdown on 22 carries.
The Vikings dropped to 0-6 in games they’ve allowed more than 100 rushing yards this season, while they’re 6-0-1 when holding teams under 100 yards.
4. Bobby Wagner, still a playmaker.
While Bobby Wagner didn’t quite put together as dominant of a performance as he had in last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers, he was still one of the best players on the field, recording a team-high nine tackles, including the aforementioned fourth-down stop. But Wagner didn’t just have a good game, he once again made a memorable play, something that has become a weekly occurrence for the All-Pro middle linebacker.
With Seattle leading 6-0 and the game still very much in question, the Vikings were lined up for a field goal that would have made it a 3-point game, but Wagner hurdled the line of scrimmage to block the kick. In years past, Wagner and Kam Chancellor had hurdled the line with running starts to attempt blocks, but the league changed the rules to make that play a penalty, so Wagner went ahead and did it from a standstill instead.
5. A Fant-astic play.
Throughout the season, officials have announced “No. 74 is an eligible receiver, No. 74 is eligible,” yet play after play, poor George Fant was eligible, yet untargeted. Finally on Monday, Wilson threw the ball Fant’s way, and the offensive tackle caught the short pass and rumbled up field before stumbling and falling for a 9-yard gain.
As Fant got up to celebrate his first career NFL catch, the CenturyLink Field crowd of 69,007 cheered him loudly, appreciating the beauty of a pass to an offensive lineman.
Former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck raises the 12 Flag prior to Seattle's Monday Night Football matchup against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14 of the 2018 NFL season at CenturyLink Field.