Perhaps it was the subzero temperatures that got to Jeff Locke. After all, Sunday’s game was the third coldest game in NFL history with temperatures at -6 degrees at kickoff with -25 degree wind chill factor. Or perhaps he never watched Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, therefore never learning that you always put the laces out, Dan!
Whatever the reason, it’s unfortunate for Locke that he will probably be the scapegoat for a late miss wide left by Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, who made all three of his field goal tries before missing the would be 27-yard game-winning field goal.
Early on, however, it looked like a special teams blunder would sink the Seahawks.
On a fourth down during the Seahawks first possession, a poorly placed snap to punter Jon Ryan forced the Seattle punter to attempt a run for the first down. Ryan was unable to convert the first down and landed face-first on the play, breaking his nose and giving Minnesota the ball near their own 20-yardline.
While the return of their punter was briefly in question, the resolve of the Seahawks defense was not. The defense held the Vikings to a field goal and neither team would score again until the second half.
The Vikings converted two field goals to stretch the lead out to 9-0 heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Seahawks luck began to change.
Another miss-snap by the Seahawks that went sailing past Russell Wilson’s head looked to be a momentum killer until Wilson was able to scoop it up and scramble to his right, buying time to find rookie receiver Tyler Lockett over the middle for a 35-yard gain. The Seahawks finished the drive two plays later with a three-yard pass to Doug Baldwin.
Momentum fully swung into the Hawks favor when two plays into the next drive Minnesota All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson had the ball stripped out of his arms by safety Kam Chancellor. Lineman Ahtyba Rubin fell on it for the Seahawks, giving them the ball in Vikings territory.
The Seahawks were able to get into field goal range and convert the 46-yard field goal giving them a 10-9 lead, their first lead of the game. The two teams then traded a pair of punts giving the Vikings a chance to put together one last drive to try to regain the lead. After a 19-yard pass interference penalty against Chancellor, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 24-yard gain that appeared to have gotten them in position for a chip-shot field goal.
With the Seahawks only having two timeouts left, the Vikings used three straight runs by Peterson to get the clock down to 26 seconds. As Walsh lined up the kick, the Seahawks and their fans had to be feeling that familiar feeling that they had let another game slip away late, something that had happened far too often during the regular season.
Instead it was the Minnesota fans who were left with a familiar sinking feeling as another missed field goal in the playoffs ended their season.
Russell Wilson finished the day 13-26 for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Christine Michael added 70 yards on the ground with 21 carries. Baldwin lead the Hawks in receiving with five catches for 42 yards and the lone touchdown of the game. Bridgewater was 17-24 for the day but for only 146 yards. Peterson was once again shutdown by the Seahawks managing only 45 yards on the ground with 23 carries and his fumble lead to eventual game-winning field goal by Steven Hauschka.
The Seahawks will travel to play the Carolina Panthers next Sunday at 10:05 a.m.
The Seahawks played the Panthers once already this season back in October. They lost that game at home 27-23 after Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen with less than a minute left in the game. The loss dropped the Seahawk’s record to 2-4 and had many believing they would miss the playoffs.
The Seahawks will look to avenge their early season loss to Carolina, a team that finished 15-1 in the regular season. Led by MVP front-runner Newton, the Panthers had the most players selected to the Pro Bowl with 10. The Panthers also had six players named as All-Pros, also good for tops in the leagues.
The Seahawks will look to keep the edge in what has quietly become one of the best rivalries in the NFL. This will be the sixth time the two teams have faced off since 2012. The Seahawks hold a 4-1 lead in those games with the largest margin of victory in the series being 14.