SEATTLE — With seven games to play, the Seattle Seahawks still have some work to do if they are going to reach this year’s NFL playoffs.
But on the heels of discouraging road losses against San Francisco and Detroit, the Seahawks put some life back into a ho-hum season with a stirring 30-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. The win lifted the Seahawks to a 5-4 season record — they are 4-0 at home — and keeps alive the team’s bid for a playoff berth and perhaps even a division title.
Seattle trails NFC West leader San Francisco — idle this week at 6-2 — by 11⁄2 games in the division standings, heading into another Seahawks home game next Sunday against the New York Jets.
“I wouldn’t say this was a ‘must win,’ but we definitely needed it,” said Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice, who had four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. “We also need the rest of these games coming up, and fortunately for us four of (the next) seven are at home.
“We use this crowd for energy,” he said. “We feed off of them and we’re thankful to have them.”
“We’ve got the best stadium in the NFL,” agreed defensive end Red Bryant. “It’s a great atmosphere for us and we feed off the crowd. It’s huge to get home and win a few games, if not all of them.”
The Seahawks won against Minnesota behind the steady play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns; a solid ground game led by running back Marshawn Lynch, who gained 124 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown; and a stout second-half effort by the Seattle defense, which limited the Vikings to just 59 yards and three points in the third and fourth quarters.
It was, said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, “a very good win for us. … I thought it was the kind of day that we needed to start the second half (of the season).”
It hardly started out that way. On the game’s second play from scrimmage, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson ran to his right, slid through three glancing tackles near the line of scrimmage, then cut back between three defenders and was suddenly in the clear at midfield.
Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner sprinted from behind to knock down Peterson inside the 2-yard line after a 74-yard run, but the Vikings scored two plays later for an early 7-0 lead.
The Seahawks countered with TD passes of 6 (to Golden Tate) and 11 yards (to Rice) from Wilson for a 14-7 margin. The Vikings followed with a touchdown and a field goal, but a late second-quarter drive by the Seahawks led to another 11-yard TD pass from Wilson to Tate and a 20-17 halftime lead.
In the second half, Seattle’s defense bottled up the explosive Peterson and harassed Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder into a woeful afternoon (11-for-22, 63 yards 37.3 QB rating).
Early in the game, “we made so many mistakes on plays and (Peterson) ran great,” Carroll said. “He’s a great player, but we didn’t have to give him that much. … It was kind of a nightmare, to tell you the truth, in the first half.
“The cool thing is, the guys settled down and Gus (Bradley, Seattle’s defensive coordinator) made his adjustments and we stopped them (in the second half). I love the way we responded.”
Lynch capped a nine-play, 72-yard drive in the third quarter with a 3-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, the Seahawks moved the ball well enough for an insurance field goal by place-kicker Stephen Hauschka and another drive that ran off the game’s final 51⁄2 minutes.
Though Seattle’s offensive effort was hardly flawless, “we held the ball in the fourth quarter and we did what we had to do to win,” said center Max Unger.
Sunday’s win gives the Seahawks sole possession of second place in the NFC West ahead of 4-5 Arizona, which lost at Green Bay. After hosting the Jets next Sunday, followed by a bye week, Seattle will host all three division foes in the season’s final six weeks.
“I’m looking forward to us keeping on rolling,” Rice said. “There should be no steps back for us. We should keep building on what we have, and hopefully when the end of the season comes we’ll be in the position we want to be in.”
“We’ve got to continue to get better and continue to play hard,” Bryant said. “But all our goals are still in front of us as far as making the playoffs and winning the division. We’ve still got a lot of things in front of us.”