By Danny O’Neil
Examining the takeaways and unanswered questions from the Seahawks’ 41-20 win over Minnesota at CenturyLink Field.
Three things we learned:
1. Doug Baldwin and Percy Harvin could be quite a pair.
There was plenty of speculation that Harvin’s addition would cost Baldwin opportunities. Well, Harvin’s debut showed just how much he may help Baldwin.
That was certainly the case on both of Baldwin’s receptions as he lined up outside with Harvin in the slot. In each case, Baldwin had a go route. In each case, Harvin’s presence in the slot demanded attention from the safety. The result? First, a 44-yard completion that was the longest play from scrimmage for either team in Sunday’s game. The second was even better for Seattle, though: a 19-yard touchdown catch in which Baldwin outleapt defenders.
With Sidney Rice out for the season, Baldwin is making a case that he is much more than just a slot specialist.
2. That’s why Cliff Avril was such a get in free agency.
Avril and Paul Kruger were considered the top pass-rushers available in free agency, and it was considered a coup when Seattle signed Avril to a two-year deal. But through 10 games, Michael Bennett had made the biggest impact along Seattle’s defensive line.
Sunday was a showcase for Avril. He came roaring off the edge on Minnesota’s third play from scrimmage, chopping the ball away from Christian Ponder to force a fumble that Seattle’s Clinton McDonald recovered. While it was his only sack, Avril was flying off the edge all game as he was simply too fast for offensive tackle Phil Loadholt. It was promising sign for Seattle’s pass rush.
3. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson make a great double-play combination.
Last week in Atlanta, it was Lynch throwing back to Wilson, who pivoted like a great second baseman and threw downfield to Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard touchdown.
This time, it was Wilson on the move making like a shortstop and flipping the ball to Lynch for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
It’s the fourth time Lynch has scored three touchdowns in a game since he was acquired by the Seahawks.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Will Russell Wilson become a viable MVP candidate?
Because he should. Peyton Manning is certainly the favorite, and Drew Brees will get consideration, but Wilson is emerging as a third candidate. He’s not going to be put the next-generation passing numbers like Manning, Brees or a stat monster like Matthew Stafford.
He does exactly what his team needs, extending plays with his scrambling ability, being careful with the ball and excelling on third down and in the red zone.
Wilson completed better than two-thirds of his pass attempts against Minnesota, passed for two touchdowns and a had a passer rating of 151.4, the second-best single-game rating in franchise history. He is truly remarkable.
2. How did Mike James rush for 158 yards against this defense?
More coverage of Seattle’s Week-11 victory over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O’Neil: Less is more for Wilson, Seahawks||• Henderson: Harvin shines in Seahawks debut||• Wyman: The Percy Harvin Effect||• Pete Carroll: 10-1 Seahawks only getting better|
Seriously. How did that happen? Because two weeks after giving up that yardage to James, the Seahawks held the league’s best running back to 65 yards on 21 carries. Adrian Peterson’s longest run in the game was 13 yards.
It was the second consecutive game in which Seattle showed a sturdy run defense. Last week, that came with the caveat that it was against Atlanta, which had the league’s worst rushing offense. This time, Seattle held Peterson to just over one-third the rushing total he had against the Seahawks last season. That’s something to boast about.
3. Will Seattle be held to fewer than 30 points in December?
Sure looks like this offense has turned the corner, an improvement that began to take root in the second half of Seattle’s comeback against Tampa Bay. The Seahawks may not reach 50 points in back-to-back games like they did last December, but with Seattle’s starting offensive tackles back and Harvin now playing, this offense appears to have turned the corner.