We all froze (pun intended) and held our collective breaths when Blair Walsh lined up for that 27-yard chip shot. Blame it on the laces or the pressure, but this much is certain; the Seahawks won ugly and are sitting pretty. Defying any sort of football logic, the kick went wide left and now the Hawks will head wide right (geographically speaking) as they’ll take on the Panthers for the second time this season, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina. But first, let’s dissect the Viking game.
It’s unfortunate that this game will only be remembered for Walsh’s missed kick because both defenses put on a show. The Vikings allowed the Hawks just 226 total yards, which is an impressive fete. The Seahawks yielded just 183 yards, which is an elite fete and just 58 more yards than they allowed the Vikings in the week 13 meeting that ended in a 38-7 Seahawks win. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril kept the Viking offense off balance and absolutely wreaked havoc on anything the Vikings wanted to do. Earl Thomas and Jeremy Lane had clutch pass deflections in clutch moments of the game that forced several key drives to stall. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman were tackling machines despite having to consistently tackle one of the league’s best backs in subzero weather. I didn’t even mention Kam Chancellor’s strip of Adrian Peterson and that was really the only “big” play that happened for the defense. That’s because all day long the Seahawks lined up against the Vikings and dared them to win the game. They dared them to run the ball, they dared Teddy Bridgewater to air it out, they dared the offensive line to win the battle in the trenches. They dared them to do all of these things and the Vikings just couldn’t do it. That is domination.
Both teams downplayed the factor cold weather would have on the game. That was lip service. The game was the third coldest in NFL history and there wasn’t a more exasperating factor (sorry defenses) for either team than the cold weather, I don’t care what anyone says. Aside from covering tight ends, playing in poor weather has revealed itself as a huge Achilles heel for the Hawks. Playing in adverse conditions three weeks ago made us look bad in a loss to St. Louis. A couple of seasons back, in the 2014 playoffs in which the Seahawks won its lone Super Bowl, rainy Seattle weather against New Orleans almost cost them another game. It’s true the Vikings are a top five defense in the league, but the rock hard football Russell Wilson had to throw all day long clearly troubled his game. Wilson couldn’t hit the deep ball for the life of him, and the Vikings did remarkably well taking away his legs (just 21 rushing yards on the day) and forcing him to stay in the pocket. Wilson and the offense were simply out of sync and even struggled to get plays called, something that hasn’t happened all year. The cold, combined with the Viking defense clearly made Wilson uncomfortable and it showed in his statline; 13 of 26 passing for just 142 yards as well as one touchdown, one interception and a quarterback rating of 21.3.
There is something about the Russell Wilson era Seahawks that make everything that is improbable or unpredictable seem probable and predictable. The team and Wilson have an “it” factor, a competitive edge and a relentlessness that helps to keep their faith intact even as momentum may not be in their favor. We should’ve known something unreal was going to happen when Doug Baldwin went full Air Jordan on third and 10 to extend a drive in the second half. If we didn’t know after that, then we should’ve known when Patrick Lewis snapped the ball by Wilson’s head and Wilson calmly slid and collected the fumbled snap like a baseball middle infielder to find Tyler Lockett by himself in the middle of the field. That led to the Seahawks’ first points. The magic continued on the very next drive when Chancellor stripped Peterson which led to the Seahawks going up for the first time, and going ahead for good. The Seahawks seemed to have used all its magic up as the Vikings marched down the field, poised to take the lead and take it for good. But the laces were out. The world was shocked. Seahawks fans shouldn’t have been, it’s just all in the fun of rooting for this team that loves toying with our emotions.