MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings came out on top when it came to the final score, beating the Seahawks 21-20 Friday night at U.S. Bank Stadium. But despite the loss, there were a lot of positives for the Seahawks in their third preseason game, not the least of which being that they led 10-6 at halftime, and 13-6 early in the third quarter when both teams had their starters in the game. The Vikings were able to come back and win on a late two-point conversion, however, dropping the Seahawks' preseason record to 0-3.
"This was a night where there were a lot of really good things we saw happen," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said postgame. "It's really with the thought of how good Minnesota is, and the matchup we had coming in. we think the highest of them, both sides of the football, the kicking game, all the way across the board. So to match up and have kind of a duke out in the first half with the starters from both sides, it was really good.
"We would have liked to have won the game, but they made a couple nice plays at the end to get it, good for them," Carroll added. "But I really liked the way we played tonight, I thought we gained a lot of ground in areas that were really important to us. It was a good matchup."
Here are six rapid reactions to Friday night's game:
1. Some positives for the defense; some things to work on.
It wasn't a great start for Seattle's defense, which gave up two long drives to Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense, including a 97-yard touchdown drive, but by halftime, the Seahawks had allowed only six points to a very good offense. Yes, a pair of missed field goals helped, but the defense also cleaned things up quite a bit after a couple of uncharacteristic missed tackles and some third-down struggles showed up on those first two drives.
"Our biggest problem of the night was really not getting off the field on third down in the first half," said Carroll. "That was a big deal to us. We've got to do better there."
Of all the things that stood out for the defense, the run defense might have been the most impressive. In the first half when both teams were playing starters, the Vikings rushed for just 27 yards on 13 carries, an average of 2.1 yards-per-carry.
"That was real important," said Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. "That's what we pride ourselves on, stopping the run, and we were able to do that for the majority of the game. We let some stuff in the pass game beat us, but I feel like we can definitely fix that. And I just loved the energy tonight."
"This is a team that wants to run the football, they're dedicated to running it and they were trying, and or guys held up really well," added Carroll. "Again, because of our respect for Minnesota, we take a lot out of this. We went all the way to the last play thinking we were going to win the football game."
The backup defense held its own for most of the night as well, though the Vikings did turn a short field after a turnover into a touchdown. Most notable as the game went on was the depth of the pass rush, with Jacob Martin and Branden Jackson each recording sacks, and the recently-signed Erik Walden recording 2.0.
Also worth noting is the play of Shaquill Griffin, who had a good battle with Stefon Diggs, breaking up a couple of passes, including a third-down shot in the end zone just before one of the Vikings' missed field goals. Diggs did have one long catch on an almost impossible-to-defend back-shoulder throw, but overall it was another strong performance for Griffin.
"It felt like we had a lot more energy. It felt a lot more like Seahawks football," said Wagner. "We've still got to do a better job getting off the field—they had a long 97-yard drive—but I felt like we were out there hitting, we were out there communicating, we were having fun."
2. Three-and-out, then a great drive.
The Seahawks offense didn't get much of a chance to show what it could do during the first quarter. After one long Vikings possession, Seattle went three-and-out, and then the Vikings had their 97-yard drive. But when Russell Wilson and the offense finally got back on the field in the second quarter, they put together a very impressive 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive against one of the NFL's best defenses.
The Seahawks faced just one third-down on that drive, and had the type of run-pass balance Carroll wants to see from his offense. Chris Carson, who continues to shine in the preseason, had an 11-yard run on the drive, as well as a 6-yard touchdown.
"We want to be able to run it and throw it," Carroll said. "We ran the ball very well on that drive, you saw Brandon contribute in that drive well, Chris looked really good, the guys up front made some really nice blocks, really nice holes for Chris to hit up in there, there was a good third-down run, a good touchdown run. So it was a really nice feeling. There was flow to this game and the intensity was really good."
3. The offensive line looked solid.
The Vikings defense presents a tough test for any offense, and Seattle's No. 1 line more than held its own. Not only did Russell Wilson mostly enjoy clean pockets in the passing game—the couple of hits he took late in the half were on blitzes—but the run blocking also stood out. Ethan Pocic showed up on both of Carson's big runs, pulling from his spot at left guard to help open a running lane.
"I thought it looked pretty clean. We have felt the line of scrimmage in all three games," said Carroll. "We haven't had a chance to really dig in—I think we had 26 plays with the first group, so that's barely a half—but it felt like we had some crispness to us. The running backs were hitting the line of scrimmage pretty good. Mike hit it, as well as Chris, both those guys averaged about 5 yards-a-carry, so it feels good, it feels like we're going in the right direction."
Germain Ifedi also looked good in his first game after Carroll declared that "the comp is on" at right tackle. Ifedi got to the second level and made nice blocks on both of the aforementioned Carson runs.
"I had all day today," added Wilson. "I thought the line did a tremendous job of giving me enough time, giving me enough space to make decisions. They were really sharp, the communication was great in a tough environment. Today was an exciting day, and we just continue to show that the line is getting better and better. Coach Mike Solari is doing a tremendous job. I kept telling the guys on the field, 'Hey, you guys are doing a great job, giving me tons of space, giving me enough time.' It's exciting, that's how we can make some plays."
4. Dickson and Janikowski showed why they won the punting and kicking jobs.
In Seattle's first game since making a decision on their kicking and punting competitions, both Sebastian Janikowski and Michael Dickson showed why they won those jobs. Dickson's first punt was a thing of beauty, a 57-yarder that bounced to the right when it landed and rolled out of bounds at the Vikings' 3-yard line. He had a nearly identical punt in the third quarter, a 56-yarder that again took a physics-defying right turn when it landed, again going out at the 3-yard line. Dickson's two other punts "only" went 45 and 49 yards, but both had good hang time, resulting in one fair catch and one 6-yard return. Dickson's final punt was a big one, soaring 61 yards, but for the first time in three games, one of his punts was also returned for significant yardage. On the plus side, Dickson showed he's willing to mix it up, making a pretty hard tackle on the sideline.
Janikowski, meanwhile, made both his field goal attempts, including a 55-yarder that went through the uprights with plenty of distance to spare. Two of his kickoffs went for touchbacks, while a third was returned out of the end zone, resulting in bad field possession for the Vikings after Barkevious Mingo tackled Craig James at the 17-yard line. Another was returned to the 25-yard line.
"We did a marvelous job with our kickers," Carroll said. "I was so fired up for Seabass to hit a bomb, hit another one, and Michael Dickson, he couldn't have been more effective with the punts for his first time out when he was really the guy. So I'm really fired up about that."
5. Barkevious Mingo's athleticism keeps showing up.
As mentioned above, Mingo made a great play on kick coverage, getting down the field quickly, then reaching an arm out to clothesline James for a hard tackle. That was one of a few nice plays he had in the game, including a pass-rush where he pressured Cousins into a quick throw, then reached up and batted the pass down for an incompletion. Mingo, a former first-round pick the Seahawks signed in the offseason, seems to make a play or two every game that shows off the athleticism that made him a top-10 pick.
"What we really saw, we saw this motor that wouldn't stop," Carroll said. "He's just going to run and keep on giving you great effort, then the playmaking follows that, and it continues to happen. He has done a really nice job. He looks like a great addition at the Sam 'backer spot for us and also helping on nickel rushing."
6. Brandon Marshall's practice domination showed up on gameday.
Ever since he got on the field in training camp, Brandon Marshall showed a knack for making big plays, but he didn't see a lot of playing time in the first two preseason games to show what he can do. On Friday, however, Marshall had his first preseason catches as a Seahawk, and the six-time Pro-Bowler showed he still can bring a lot to the offense. Most notably, Marshall used his size to gain a bit of separation on Xavier Rhodes, then he elevated over the Pro-Bowl cornerback to haul in a 20-yard catch. One play later, Carson was in the end zone to give the Seahawks their first touchdown of the game.
"I thought Brandon Marshall really showed up tonight, which is exciting to see," said Wilson. "He really got in there. He had a great week this week, he had a great week last week, and for him to show up the way he did was special. We're going to need him in a big way.
Fan photos from the Seahawks' third preseason game of 2018, a road matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota.