Vikings fall to Seahawks 27-26

Photo Courtesy

Vikings/Seahawks Recap

The Vikings started Sunday Night about as well as one could hope. They marched down the field with quarterback Kirk Cousins distributing the ball to every receiver not named Adam Thielen. Pre-season MVP Chad Beebe even had a catch on the opening drive.

After pushing the Seahawks far into their territory, Dalvin Cook punched the ball into the end zone after back-to-back ten yard (plus) runs.

The Vikings defense started great, too, forcing the high powered Seahawks offense to punt on their first AND second possession. The Vikings second drive started good, with the Vikings getting into Seahawks territory, but the drive stalled courtesy of a holding penalty on right guard Dru Samia. The Vikings kicked a 52-yard field goal, going ahead 10-0.

The Vikings defense held the Seahawks AGAIN, thanks to great plays from fill-in guys like outside linebacker Eric Wilson, who was all over the place in the first half. There were coverage sacks, and even a James Lynch sighting as he forced a sack from the inside of the Vikings defensive line.

The Seahawks struggled to move the ball thanks to the two high safeties the Vikings employed during the entire first half. The Vikings ended the Seahawks’ last first half drive with back-to-back sacks, the second coming from Yannick Ngakoue (and being largely considered a coverage sack).

NBC color commentator Chris Collinsworth noted how the Vikings defensive gameplan was “frustrating the heck” out of Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, a team that came into Week 5 as a 35 points per game juggernaut on offense.

The Vikings offense received the ball with 1:47 left in the half, and started with a naked screen to Dalvin Cook. Cook picked up a first down and followed that up with another pass to Cook for five yards. All the in-week complaining that the Vikes weren’t completing enough passes to Cook seems to have been heard by Kubiak and company.

Cousins distributed the ball masterfully, something that should elicit some … I won’t say apologies from his haters but at least a temporary respite from the people bemoaning his contract. The Vikings seemingly picked up 7/8 yards on every play on their final drive, with 14 touchdowns on the half before getting into field goal range.

The drive stalled after two incompletions, the last of which was a PERFECT pass deep to Adam Thielen but was broken up by Seattle corner Shaq Griffin. The Vikings settled for a 46-yard field goal by Dan Bailey, and gave the Seahawks the ball with 10 seconds left. The Seahawks decided to run a play, a scramble by Wilson, and then a toss to Tyler Lockeyt with two seconds left.

The ball was put an end to the worst first-half that Wilson and company in Seattle had since 2015. The question became, could the Vikings keep it up in the second half? After sacking Wilson four times in the first half, the hope was that they’d keep up the pressure in the second half.

The Seahawks received the ball to start the second half, so we’d know relatively quickly whether or not the ‘Hawks would “start over” from “square one” (as head coach Pete Carroll said) in the third quarter. On the other side, the Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer noted that the Vikings offensive line would need to change protections to account for Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed (who was nigh dominant in the first half).

The first drive of the half for the Seahawks was more of the same, though, as a tackle behind the line of scrimmage by Eric Kendricks on Seahawks running back Chris Carson forced a three-and-out for the green and… green?

The Vikings offense received the ball with 13:05 in the half. A screen pass to Dalvin Cook on the first pass of the half ended as a potential nightmare as Dalvin Cook came up lame after stumbling during the catch, with what appeared to be a high hamstring pull.

Considering that Dalvin was responsible for 47% of the offensive touches going into Week 5? And, most importantly, I literally just traded Joe Mixon and Calvin Ridley in the PurpleTERRITORY Media fantasy league? Let’s just say I’d be holding my breath if my lungs weren’t full of COVID related scarring (probably, test pending).

The injury and three-and-out it caused clearly energized Seattle. It was so apparent that Collinsworth noticed it like it was a 16-year-old cheerleader in 1976. The next Seahawks drive was nearly unstoppable, and ended with a strike by Wilson as the Seahawks went over 50-yards in just 4 plays.

Things seemed to fall apart, for obvious reasons, as both NBC commentators pointed out that the Seahawks were focused on beating Vikings right guard and liability Dru Samia. Collinsworth said that the “Vikings can’t pass protect well, at all”

Imagine if they could.

The Vikings appeared to go three-and-out on their post Seahawks touchdown drive, however, it also appeared that Cousins may have fumbled the ball a split second before attempting to throw it downfield thanks to Darran Moore. The Seahawks challenged and received the ball at the Vikings 15.

Yeah. This was the second half we feared.

Dalvin Cook was deemed questionable to return but jogged out of the locker room after the Cousins fumble, hopefully bringing with him the momentum the team lost when he went down with injury.

DK Metcalf apparently didn’t see Cook return, as he caught a touchdown from the slot seconds after Cook returned, putting the Seahawks up by 1-point with 8:19 left in the half. That means it only took Seattle 6:41 to completely change the game.

The first play of the following drive was a fake to Cook, with Cousins rolling out to the right. He attempted to throw the ball over the top of Seahawks linebacker KJ Wright, but Wright made an amazing play and intercepted Cousins’ pass, giving the Seahawks the ball on the Vikings 29.

Seahawks running back Chris Carson scored a touchdown on the first play of the subsequent Seahawks drive. That’s three touchdowns in one minute and 53 seconds, if you’re keeping tracks.

This may be the best representation… I’ll just let this sexy genius on Twitter explain:

The following kickoff return lead to a hit so massive on Vikings returner and running back Ameer Abdullah that Collinsworth said, while laughing, “WHY SO SERIOUS!”, I mean, “Talk about a change in momentum! Har de har har”.

He wasn’t wrong.

The following drive started with the third holding call on Dru Samia. However, Cousins was able to overcome that with a deep strike to Irv Smith Jr, which with the 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty lead to the Vikings picking up enough yards for a first down in Seattle territory.

The next pass was a near first down pass to Thielen, showing that the Vikings offense at least bounced back after a nightmarish start to the second half. The Seahawks kept blitzing their corners off the edge, but Cousins was able to pick up a first down to Thielen (his fifth catch) and get the Vikings near the Seahawks red zone.

The Vikings, for some reason, took a shot from the 18 with a pass to fullback CJ Ham. That lead to third and seven from the 17. Thielen came through again with a grab within the Seahawks five yard-line while Collinsworth noted that at least Samia could block a safety and that Cousins was being hit on nearly every dropback.

Thielen came through on the following pass for a touchdown after a great, gutsy drive. The Thielen touchdown came after a rollout that brought the score to within two.

The Vikings went for 2, and after a failed QB draw, the Vikings trailed the Seahawks 21-19 with 3:39 in the third quarter. While the game is close, the reality is that this Vikings team cannot win as currently comprised mostly thanks to the continued lack of investment on the interior of the offensive line.

If a fan-base is impatiently waiting for Pat Elflein to return from the IR? You’ve got problems. Dru Samia isn’t just bad, he’s bad enough to single-handedly ruin the Vikings’ game plan, hopes, etc.

Sure, 2020 is a learning year for the Vikings, but when you have commentators laughing while talking about your right guard, it borders on embarrassing.

Back to the game, the Vikings essentially lucked out twice as the Seahawks went deep twice and missed out on two big opportunities to bury the Vikings. However, the subsequent punt forced the Vikings to start from their own 2-yard-line.

The Vikings started the fourth quarter from their two, down by two. While the third quarter was an unmitigated disaster much like the Monday Night Football game against the Seahawks last season, had you told us that the Vikings would be down two going into the fourth with the ball earlier today, I’m sure many of us would’ve taken them there odds (especially if they came from BetQL’s Best Bets) .

To add insult to injury, NBC showed this at the start of the fourth quarter.

After a clutch first-down on a third down and five to Thielen (who is, as our managing editor Sean Borman notes is a machine):

Fill-in running back Alexander Mattison picked up over 20.

Justin Jefferson picked up 24, allowing the Vikings to enter Seahawks territory. After two tuns by Mattison the Vikings were facing third and three from the Seahawks 35 with 10:25 to go in regulation.

There was movement prior to the snap, which gave the Vikings a first-down from the Seahawks 30. Mattison picked up 12 on the next play (his 13th carry for 74 yards to that point) thanks to a big block by Vikings center Garrett Bradbury.

On second and 12 Irv Smith Jr. nabbed his fourth catch of the night on a drive that was the fifth of 10 or more for the Vikings (the most since 2012 and giving the Vikings nearly a 2:1 time of possession advantage), giving the Vikings third and short. The Vikings picked up the first thanks to a Cousins sneak, giving the Vikings first and goal from the 8.

After a fake pitch to Mattison, Cousins tossed a touchdown to Adam Thielen (his ninth catch for 80 yards). That’s a 15 play drive that was good for 97 yards and the lead. On top of that, Seahawks corner Shaq Griffin went down with an injury, which was significant because of other injuries that Seattle had in their secondary.

That makes it a five point game after the extra point with 7:08 remaining. The Seahawks were 0-5 on third down going into this drive, and after a safety blitz by Anthony Harris, the Seahawks found themselves facing second and ten from their 20. After an off-sides and a failed free play, it was second and five.

DK Metcalf picked up the first on a short sideline pass against Cameron Dantzler. The feeling is that the Vikings need a turnover on defense to give their offense a chance to run out the clock with yet another long drive.

Just like that, Eric Wilson, who some genius wrote earlier tonight:

Just for proof that we live in the Matrix? I wrote that turnover paragraph seconds before Wilson did this:

Mattison picked up 25 on the next drive, getting him to 98 yards largely in the second half. Mattison could start for most teams in the NFL, so it’s encouraging to see that he picked up 17 for 104 with 4:41, as he is doing what he was drafted to do. Fill in. Wear defenses down. Get lathered up. Etc. After another first down by Mattison, the Vikings neared 190 yards rushing on the night between Cook, Mattison and Cousins.

Mattison picked up six on first and ten from the 16, thanks to blocking from the left side of the line as well as Kyle Rudolph and CJ Ham.

Brian O’Neill picked up a holding penalty, bringing the Vikings to second and 16 with 2:44 to go. On a back to back run from Boone (the first was negated by the O’Neill penalty), the Vikings picked up over ten yards thanks to a good block on the right side by none other than Dru Samia.

That brings up third and four from the Seahawks 9 yard-line. After the teams traded timeouts, the Vikings went empty backfield and after a Thielen end around that was about a yard short, the Vikings got to the two minute warning with a major decision on 4th-and-inches.

Go for it, and potentially go up by two touchdowns. Kick a field goal and force the Seahawks to score a touchdown and successfully go for two. After what seemed like was the longest commercial break of all time, the Vikings decided to go for it during a down pour.

The Vikings went for it. With a handoff to Mattison behind CJ Ham.

The Seahawks responded with a big run by Russell Wilson then an incomplete pass followed by another incomplete pass on a blitz by the Vikings. That brought up third down and ten for the Seahawks in four down territory.

After Wilson was pressured by the Vikings defense, on another blitz, he sailed a pass down the field which brought up fourth-and-ten for all the marbles.

The Vikings sent a blitz and Wilson connected down the field to DK Metcalf at the Vikings 38. Which is about the square root of the collective blood pressure of Vikings fans around the world.

With exactly one minute left, the Seahawks had a first down from the Vikings 22. After an incomplete on the sideline, the Vikings seemingly were blitzing on every down.

DK Metcalf snagged another first down at the Vikings 6 yard-line. The Seahawks faced second and goal with 28 seconds left. The Vikings needed a miracle, which may have come when Mike Hughes stripped a sure touchdown that was actually initially called a touchdown by the side judge.

That brought up fourth and goal for the Seahawks. The entire game was on the line. This is what football is all about. On the 13th play of the drive, the Seahawks called time out.

Zimmer vs. Carroll. You have Russell Wilson, and you have to account for his legs and of course the Seahawks converted on a pass to DK Metcalf where Anthony Harris was almost there. The Seahawks went for two and didn’t convert, giving the Vikings a shot with 15 seconds left.

The game ended with a Cousins pass/fumble which was not dissimilar to the fumble earlier in the game. After a review, the refs disagreed with everyone in the booth and the game ended.

I’ll leave it at this…

Here’s the statistics behind going for it on fourth-and-inches…