Seahawks survive with 10-9 playoff win after missed Vikings field goal
MINNEAPOLIS – Better lucky than good.
That’s the only explanation for the Seahawks’ 10-9 victory in a game in which Seattle appeared certain to be kicking itself only to win when Minnesota’s kicker Blair Walsh missed a gimme of a field-goal attempt from 27 yards with 26 seconds remaining.
It went wide left.
No wait. That doesn’t describe the degree to which he missed the kick, which was never close.
And just like that the pass-interference penalty against Kam Chancellor earlier in the drive didn’t matter. Neither did the 24-yard completion from Teddy Bridgewater to tight end Kyle Rudolph on the next play.
It didn’t matter that Seattle botched a punt leading to Minnesota’s first field goal of the game nor the fact that two defensive penalties helped the Vikings to a pair of third-quarter field goals.
On a day in which the Seahawks spent the first three quarters beating themselves, it was only fitting that Seattle’s biggest gain came on a broken play when a fourth-quarter snap sailed over Russell Wilson’s head on Seattle’s first drive of the final period.
Wilson slid to a knee to recover the ball, stood up, assessed the situation and ran upfield, throwing to a wide open Tyler Lockett in the heart of Minnesota’s defense for a 35-yard completion that was the longest gain for either team and gave Seattle a first down at the Minnesota 4.
To say Wilson had ice water in his veins might not have been an overstatement given the sub-zero temperatures that Sunday’s game was played in. The Seahawks scored their first points of the game two plays later, Doug Baldwin catching a 3-yard touchdown pass with 11:37 left in the game.
Adrian Peterson fumbled on Minnesota’s ensuing possession, and Seattle turned that into its first lead of the game when Steven Hauschka kicked a 46-yard field goal with 8:04 left in the game.
That turned out to be the last points Seattle would need even though Minnesota would get four more possessions and seemed to have a victory cinched up with just over a minute remaining.
On second-and-10 from the Minnesota 39, Chancellor was called for pass interference against Rudolph, putting Minnesota into Seattle’s half of the field. Rudolph caught a pass with Chancellor trailing him on the next play, eluding a diving Chancellor and gaining 24 yards to put the ball at the Seattle 18. Three running plays exhausted Seattle’s two remaining time outs and all but 26 seconds of the game clock.
Walsh then lined up for the fateful, potential game-winning field-goal attempt.
He had kicked a 43-yard field goal with 7:04 left in the third quarter to put Minnesota ahead 6-0. He also kicked a 47-yard field goal 7 minutes later to make the margin 9-0.
The Vikings may have been leading at that point, but that’s only because the Seahawks were beating themselves. The botched punt set up Minnesota’s first score. A roughing-the-passer penalty against Cliff Avril was the biggest play in the Vikings’ third field-goal drive, and Seattle was called for defensive pass-interference on the third field-goal drive.
The average starting position for those three Minnesota scoring drives: the Seattle 44. Two of them started in Seattle’s half of the field.
Minnesota began its first drive on its own 12, converted one third down then a fourth-and-1 before finally having Peterson stuffed on third-and-1 for a 3-yard loss in which he was hit by more than half of Seattle’s defense.
Literally. More than half as Michael Bennett’s initial penetration was followed up by linebacker Bobby Wagner then Kam Chancellor and onto K.J. Wright before another cluster of Seahawks came. Peterson carried four times on the first possession for a net-loss of 2 yards.
The first half was a face plant for Seattle.
That was true metaphorically for the Seahawks’ offense, which burned through timeouts, froze up when it got to the Vikings’ half of the field and whose biggest gain of the half came on a 41-yard penalty for pass interference.
The face plant was literally accurate for Seattle’s special teams. The snap was low on the Seahawks’ first punt attempt, and while Jon Ryan scooped it up, fearing it would be blocked, he tucked and ran. Ryan got past the line of scrimmage before he tried to leap over a tackler. Hit low, he face-planted into the turf 3 yards short of the first down.
Minnesota took over at the Seattle 29, gained two first downs but were held out of the end zone, forced to kick a 22-yard field goal after 10 plays for the only points of the first half.
Seattle crossed midfield twice in the first half, but never got closer than the Minnesota 25. The closest Seattle came to scoring was when it decided to go for it on fourth-and-8 from the Vikings 31, the sub-zero temperatures meaning it was out of kicker Steven Hauschka’s range.
Seattle failed to score a first-half touchdown three times in the regular season, but had not been shut-out in the first half since last season’s NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. It was the third time in 11 playoff games under coach Pete Carroll that Seattle hadn’t scored by halftime.