Vikings

INSTANT REACTION: Vikings Fall to Seahawks in Monday Night Shootout

Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson (USA Today Sports)

Sam Ekstrom gives his first thoughts on the Vikings 37-30 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.

BIG PICTURE

It was a tale of two halves. For 30 minutes, the Vikings went toe-to-toe with one of the NFC’s best. Then they got sloppy. Ill-timed penalties, turnovers, injuries and defensive breakdowns all converged at once as Minnesota saw a third-quarter lead turn into a 17-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. Minnesota showed heart, however, staging a furious fourth-quarter rally to pull within four, but Kirk Cousins couldn’t deliver a game-winning drive as he did two weeks prior.

The loss may seal the Vikings’ fate as the NFC’s 6-seed if they are able to make the playoffs. They’ll now need help from the Green Bay Packers if they hope to win the NFC North.

A BRUTAL THIRD QUARTER FOR THE OFFENSE

The bookends were good for the offense, which started fast and charged hard at the end. The middle quarters, though, were ugly.

Past Vikings teams under Zimmer have either shown great freshness or rust coming out of the bye. The 2015 team won five straight games after their week off — the 2016 team lost four in a row. The 2019 group looked rejuvenated as they came out with a convincing six-play, 83-yard opening drive to throw the first punch, which landed in the form of Dalvin Cook’s touchdown run.

Without Adam Thielen for the better part of a sixth straight game, Cousins made smart decisions as the Vikings played with a lead for most of the first half, heading to halftime 13 of 17 for 125 yards, having engineered an at-times disjointed but still effective field goal drive to end the first half. Things unraveled in the third quarter, though. With a chance to extend a seven-point lead, the Vikings went three-and-out, then fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive as Cook injured his shoulder and did not return. Cousins then threw an interception on the first play of the fourth quarter to continue the collapse and dig an insurmountable deficit.

Seattle strung together 24 straight points in just over 10 minutes of game time, partly as a result of Minnesota’s offensive ineptitude. The Vikings ran just 11 plays on their first four second half drives.

But down by 17, Cousins started climbing back, much like he did in Week 11 versus Denver down by 20. He connected with Laquon Treadwell for a 58-yard touchdown on a blown coverage and led a 72-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter to get the Vikings within four points, hitting Kyle Rudolph for his second one-handed touchdown catch of the year.

With the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, Cousins missed Treadwell and Irv Smith Jr. on successive plays to turn it over on downs, spoiling Minnesota’s comeback attempt.

DEFENSE WORN DOWN BY PERSISTENT SEAHAWKS

Naturally, any defensive gameplan against the Seahawks includes containing Wilson: containing his deep passing, his red zone efficiency and his mobility.

How did the Vikings do in those areas?

After a good start to the game holding Wilson to short completions, he hit David Moore for a 60-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, who got behind Xavier Rhodes. It was the biggest blow of the game, which had seen the two teams separated by one possession until that strike, putting the Seahawks up 27-17.

Beyond the shot to Moore, Wilson was held to 180 passing yards and 14 rushing yards, while going 50% in the red zone. But he completed enough third downs to extend drives and give Seattle a two-thirds edge in time of possession. The Vikings also gave him two short fields with second-half turnovers that led to Seahawks points.

Wilson even gave the Vikings a second-quarter gift with this boneheaded mistake on a batted ball.

Additionally, the Vikings run defense had a tougher time despite getting Linval Joseph back for the first time in three games post-knee surgery. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny combined for 176 yards and two rushing touchdowns, doubling the season touchdown total against the Vikings defense. The run-happy Seahawks offense marched down the field to tie the game in the third quarter with the aid of only two passes and melted the clock most of the way down with successful rushing plays in the closing seconds of the game.

Somehow, someway, after all that went awry, the Vikings defense did get a takeaway and a stop in the fourth quarter to provide the offense with a game-winning opportunity, but the Vikings came up short.

X-FACTOR

Penalties, or the lack of them. Seattle played a penalty-free game for the first three quarters and six minutes. It was nearly the fourth zero-penalty game in Seattle’s franchise history. Their first was a big one, though: a defensive pass interference drawn by Diggs that gained 30 yards. It was their only penalty of the game.

Meanwhile, the Vikings had just three penalties but a couple were crushing: a holding call that derailed an offensive drive and Xavier Rhodes’ personal foul out of bounds that moved the Seahawks 15 yards further during a touchdown drive.