MINNEAPOLIS — The Seahawks lost Friday night, but flew home from Minneapolis feeling good about the direction of the team with the regular season rapidly approaching.
Thanks to a late comeback, the Vikings earned a 21-20 victory over Seattle in Week 3 of the preseason, but the mood in the Seahawks locker room was upbeat because of all the positives players saw for three-plus quarters before Minnesota scored two late touchdowns while both teams were playing backups.
When the starters were still playing, the Seahawks built a 13-6 lead early in the third quarter, and doing so on the road against a team that played in the NFC championship game last season was significant, even if it was a preseason game and one Seattle ultimately lost.
"I thought it was a great night tonight," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "Come on the road in a tough, tough environment, it's loud out there and it's a really good defense, one of the top defenses in the National Football League. I thought we moved the ball really well up and down the field, made some plays, it was nice to see Chris Carson get in the end zone. That was exciting. I thought we did a really good job. We made some key plays on third down too. I thought Brandon Marshall really showed up tonight which is exciting to see. He had a really great week this week, he had a really great week last week and for him to show up the way he did, it was special. We're going to need him in a big way. I thought guys like Marcus Johnson made a great catch on the go ball. There's a lot of great things tonight. I thought one of the coolest things about tonight was that the energy was there. I thought the defense was hitting people really hard, our defense, they did a really good job of that. The fire was there so that was great."
As Wilson notes, it wasn't just the offense feeling that energy and fire. While the No. 1 defense did allow a 97-yard touchdown drive—Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner both pointed to third-down defense as a problem in this game—that unit also felt good about what took place against Vikings. Whether it was Shaquill Griffin breaking up passes, or K.J. Wright laying a huge—and legal—hit on a receiver over the middle, or some stingy run defense, or the pass rush showing up again, the defense saw plenty it can build on moving forward.
"It felt like we had a lot more energy," Wagner said. "It felt a lot more like Seahawks football. 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. Up until the end of the game, they only 6 points, so it felt better… I just loved the energy tonight."
On offense, Wilson and company went three-and-out on their first possession, but following Minnesota's touchdown early in the second quarter, Seattle responded with a balanced 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The first-team unit added a second scoring drive, getting a field goal in the third quarter, and knowing that starters likely won't play much in the final preseason game, players on that side of the ball feel like they're ready for the regular season.
"I definitely think we're ready," Wilson said. "We're prepared. Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer has done a tremendous job of stepping in and really teaching us all the fine details of what we want to do and how we want to do it, all the added stuff as well. So there's a lot we're excited about. But you know me, I'm one of those guys, one day at a time kind of thing, you can't get too far ahead. It was a great thing tonight because it was such a great defense that we were playing against. We knew it was going to be a challenge and we stepped up to the challenge. They scored a touchdown, we came back and scored right away, so that was exciting."
One of the most encouraging signs for Seattle not just Friday but overall this preseason has been the growth of the offensive line. The Seahawks have had the same starting five throughout camp and three preseason games, and that continuity has paid off, both in the running game and in giving Wilson, as he put it, "all day today" while dropping back to pass.
"I believe we're going to be really good," center Justin Britt said. "We've just got to keep working. We've done well this preseason with the ones up front, and we've just got to keep building and working, but we're finding ourselves and our identity… I think we're definitely ready to get the regular season rolling and get after it. We know what we're capable of, and we're definitely ready to get after it."
Adding to the positive feeling coming out of this game was the way the team played on special teams. Michael Dickson and Sebastian Janikowski both had impressive games, and the coverage units were for the most part on top of their games, save for one long punt return that Dickson said was his fault due to not placing a 61-yard punt where he wanted it. It could have been an even bigger day on special teams had David Moore's fourth-quarter punt return touchdown not come back because of a penalty.
"This was a night where there were a lot of really good things we saw happen," Carroll said. "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 side, it was really good. I thought we played with good juice tonight, liked the way we were running and hitting. We did a marvelous job with our kickers, 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."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' third preseason game of 2018 against the Vikings in Minnesota.