3 takeaways, analysis from Seattle Seahawks’ nail-biting win over Vikings

3 takeaways, analysis from Seattle Seahawks’ nail-biting win over Vikings

The Seattle Seahawks got back into the game with a blink-of-the-eye barrage in the third quarter, and finished the job with a Russell Wilson-led game-winning drive, as the team topped the Minnesota Vikings 27-26 Sunday night at CenturyLink Field in its latest dramatic win.

The Seahawks are now 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.

Here are a few takeaways from the game:

THE GAME-WINNING DRIVE

Wilson came through in the clutch  — again, like he always seems to do.

And rising second-year receiver DK Metcalf, continuing his ascent into elite status in the NFL, won the award for best supporting actor.

Spearheaded by Wilson and Metcalf, the Seahawks converted two high-pressure fourth downs on their dramatic, 94-yard, game-winning drive. Wilson connected with Metcalf on both: a 4th-and-10 conversion to keep the series alive, then later hooked up on 4th & goal for the game-clinching touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game.

It marked Wilson’s 34th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime since he entered the NFL in 2012, which tops the league in that span.

And the Wilson-Metcalf connection continues to blossom. Six of Wilson’s final nine passing attempts on the game-winning series went to Metcalf.

“(Metcalf) totally believes in himself, and he’s building up a reservoir of reasons why he should and he continues to make things happen,” coach Pete Carroll said postgame. “He has a great partner in Russ, who believes in him and trusts him.”

The Seahawks’ final drive looked dead at first; the opportunity to win slipping away. After a big scramble for first down at the 1:57 mark by Wilson, Seattle stalled. Wilson misfired to receiver David Moore. Then he misfired to Moore again. A Vikings blitz on third down forced him to throw it away. The Seahawks, with just 1:21 on the clock, were then facing a do-or-die 4 & 10 at their own 23.

Then magic.

Wilson dropped back and aired a pass down the Seahawks’ sideline to Metcalf, who leaped for the high pass and hung in the air to make the incredible grab for first down. Two plays later, Wilson rolled out to his right and found Tyler Lockett. Two more plays later, he threaded a dart to Metcalf off a quick slant, placing the Seahawks at the 6-yard line with a fresh set of downs.

Metcalf blew the touchdown grab at first; On second down, he caught a pass in the end zone — the would-be game-winning play — but didn’t get both feet in before Vikings corner Mike Hughes broke up the play.

He made up for it on the all-or-nothing fourth down at the goal line, catching the game-winning reception on a post route.

“He made an unbelievable catch, unbelievable play,” Wilson said of Metcalf. “Offensive line blocked extremely well in that position. It was a special time, special moment for us right there.”

Once again, we saw Sunday the unique mental fortitude that Metcalf has. He blew the winning score, then claimed the winning score. He showed the same kind of resiliency in Week 3 against Dallas when he fumbled at the 1-yard line for a touchback early in the game, before securing the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter. He’s shown repeatedly that he’s built for the moment.

And Wilson’s constant trust in Metcalf in those moments stands out.

Their relationship, which was already strong in 2019, took another step this past offseason through their training sessions in San Diego and Mexico. The work they put in together is paying big dividends.

“All those reps that we’ve practiced in the offseason, in the summer, all the time just together one-on-one,  it really showed up tonight,” Wilson said.

Wilson on Sunday completed 20 of 32 passes (62.5%) for 217 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Metcalf had six catches for 93 yards and two scores.

THE DRAMATIC COMEBACK … THAT ALMOST DIDN’T MATTER

The Seahawks laid an egg in the first half. It was their worst 30 minutes of football this season; the offense — scorching hot to start the season — stalled for the first time all year and the defense — which has had issues  — couldn’t get off the field. Minnesota dominated time of possession.

In the blink of an eye in the third quarter, though, the outlook of the game turned completely.

The Seahawks scored three touchdowns in less than two minutes.
 
The momentum turned when Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook, who tore up the Seahawks’ defense in the first half for 65 yards on 17 carries, got hurt on the first play of Minnesota’s opening series of the second half. The visitors seemed to lose their mojo a bit after that.

Without Cook, Minnesota went three and out. The Seahawks’ offense scored on the ensuing possession, needing just 1:42 for a 58-yard TD drive. Then the defense forced takeaways on consecutive series — a recovery off a fumble (caused by defensive end Damontre Moore) and an interception (courtesy of linebacker K.J. Wright), respectively — giving Seattle a short field. It scored after both turnovers, with just 17 seconds ticking off the game clock.

The Seahawks were trailing 13-0 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. With 8:02 left in the period, they had taken a 21-13 lead.

What happened in the halftime locker room? Carroll preached patience to his team. He reminded them how they’ve practiced through hardship, like the one they had in front of them.

According to Carroll, there was a time in training camp this year when they stopped practice for the day because they weren’t as clean as they needed to be.

“I wanted them to know that it’s going to happen so they feel the success building, so that we can build on that,” Carroll said of the message to his team at the break. “And all of a sudden, here they go, there’s this play and that play and things go crazy, and we’re ripping up and down the field, and we’re stopping them like crazy on defense.”

Seattle almost blew its comeback effort, though. It continued to show the vulnerabilities defensively it has when it can’t get turnovers. With backup running back Alexander Mattison puting the same kind of hurt that Cook had been earlier in the game, the Vikings put together 11- and 15-play touchdown drives, respectively, to reclaim the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Minnesota nearly put the game away on the series proceeding the two scoring drives, charging down to the goal line with the chance to go up two scores with two minutes left. But the Seahawks had stops on third and fourth down to force the turnover of downs at the 1. The ball went back to the offense.

Carroll said the defense is not playing the way they want to play, but they’re making stops when they need to.

“You watched them go down the field on us; why would we think that we could stop them on fourth down? But, we did,” Carroll said. “We stopped them on third down and fourth down there. The resilience that it takes to come through in situations like that comes from somewhere. It comes from belief that you’re going to be able to get it done.”

Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison is brought down by the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Seattle.

And the defense knew what would happen with the ball back in No. 3’s hands to close the game.

“I knew that once we made that fourth down stop, I was like, ‘we’re about to win,'” Wright said. “You guys should see the confidence that we have on the sideline. Everyone was just so positive and optimistic …  if we have Russell at quarterback, anything is possible. His hall of fame career, he just keeps adding to it. I love him as a teammate, I love him as a man and it’s just special that he keeps doing that.”

MICHAEL DICKSON HAS BEEN PHENOMENAL

Seahawks punter Michael Dickson continued his stellar start to the 2020 season Sunday. Four of his five punts landing inside the 20, including three inside the 15.

Dickson’s punt after Seattle’s three and out to open the third quarter was downed at the 15, helping the team to halt Minnesota’s offense, which for the most part did whatever it wanted in the first half. Dickson’s punt kicked off the Seahawks’ stops in three consecutive defensive series — a three and out, a fumble recovery and an interception — and their three straight touchdown drives.

The Australian’s ability to flip the field gives a struggling Seattle defense playmaking opportunities by pinning opponents deep in their own territory, and bails out the offense when it struggles, like it did in the first half.

Entering Sunday, Dickson was tied for the NFL lead in punts downed inside the 20 (10), ranked top five in yards per punt (50.9) and had the third- longest punt of the year (67 yards).

Dickson is on the fast track toward claiming his second first-team All-Pro nod in three seasons.

UP NEXT

The Seahawks (5-0) have their bye next week. Seattle will have its first divisional game in Week 7, playing at the Arizona Cardinals (3-2) on Sunday, Oct. 25.

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Ben Arthur covers sports for SeattlePI. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Follow him on twitter at @benyarthur

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