By Danny O’Neil
Percy Harvin performed a one-handed juggling act to catch his first pass as a Seahawk, he returned a kickoff 58 yards and he even lined up in the backfield once during his debut performance for Seattle.
But that was only part of the reason the Seahawks beat Minnesota 41-20 at CenturyLink Field Sunday.
Marshawn Lynch scored three times, Doug Baldwin had a 44-yard catch in the first quarter and an acrobatic 19-yard scoring catch in the second while three different Seahawks defenders intercepted passes in the fourth quarter, including Walter Thurmond, who ran it back for a touchdown.
It was a blowout reminiscent of last December when the Seahawks turned the corner and scored 50 points in back-to-back games.
Seattle didn’t reach that plateau against the Vikings, but the Seahawks did score more than 40 points for the second time this season.
The significance: Minnesota was the team that ended Seattle’s 12-game home winning streak, defeating the Seahawks 31-13 on Oct. 22, 2006, a game that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck left with a knee injury. Seattle beat Minnesota on Sunday for its 13th consecutive home victory.
Play of the game: Harvin’s first catch as a Seahawk produced a standing ovation as the wide receiver reached up to deflect a high pass and then clutched it with both hands for a 17-yard gain and a first down.
Turning point: Harvin’s 58-yard kickoff return in the final minute of the second quarter gave Seattle a boost on its final possession of the half. Minnesota had cut Seattle’s lead to 17-13 with 48 seconds left after Blair Walsh’s second field goal of the half. The Seahawks weren’t planning on having Harvin return kickoffs, but a head injury to Jermaine Kearse provided an opening, which is all Harvin needed. He gave Seattle a short field, and the Seahawks needed five plays to drive 46 yards, scoring on Baldwin’s leaping 19-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone.
Player of the game: Lynch scored three touchdowns, Baldwin had the longest catch and scored on an acrobatic 19-yard reception in the final minute of the first half and three different Seahawks defensive players intercepted passes. But the player who impacted this game the most was Cliff Avril and his ability to come roaring off the edge. He had a sack and forced a fumble on Minnesota’s first possession and he spent plenty of time in Minnesota’s backfield to close out the game.
The good: The Seahawks matched their season high for first-half points with 24. Harvin made his Seahawks debut, and caught his first pass, reaching up with one hand to deflect the ball and then securing it with two hands for a 17-yard gain. With Kearse out because of a head injury, Harvin returned a kickoff 58 yards in the final minute of the first half, Seattle’s longest kickoff return this season. Seattle scored first for the eighth time in 11 games this season. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka made a 50-yard field goal in the fourth minute of the game. Hauschka has made 14 consecutive field goals. Seattle held Adrian Peterson to 35 yards on 14 carries in the first half, an average of 2.5 yards. Linebacker Bobby Wagner picked off a pass in the fourth quarter.
The bad: Vikings receiver Jarius Wright scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, getting behind Seattle’s defense as Richard Sherman chased Wright into the end zone. It was the second-longest touchdown Seattle has given up this season. Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder was 7-for-7 passing in the second quarter for 84 yards.
The ugly: Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane’s belly. Seriously, FOX, did we need a close-up of his belly roll after a first-half quarterback pressure? The Seahawks were penalized twice for pass interference in the first half for a total of 51 yards, contributing to two of the Vikings’ three scoring drives in the first half. Kellen Davis – Seattle’s No. 3 tight end – was penalized 10 yards for holding on a third-and-1 play in the third quarter. It was one of five penalties called against the Seahawks in the third quarter.
Go figure: Minnesota outgained Seattle 336 yards to 323, a disparity more than made up for by the fact that Seattle forced four turnovers and didn’t give the ball away.
Seattle: WR Jermaine Kearse suffered a concussion on a first-quarter kickoff return.
Minnesota: C John Sullivan suffered a head injury in the second half.
Seattle: CB Brandon Browner, FB Derrick Coleman, OT Michael Bowie, OT Caylin Hauptmann, DE O’Brien Schofield, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Jordan Hill.
Minnesota: QB Josh Freeman, WR Greg Jennings, CB Shaun Prater, RB Matt Asiata, G Jeff Baca, TE Kyle Rudolph, DT Letroy Guion.