SEATTLE — Giddy up, NFC teams, because the Seattle Seahawks now have the inside track to a first-round bye and a home playoff game in January.
In a Week 13 matchup with playoff implications, the Seahawks beat the Vikings, 37-30, after outscoring Minnesota 27-13 in the second half Monday night at Century Link Field.
“It felt like a championship game tonight in the stadium,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
The Seahawks (10-2) supplanted the 49ers atop of the NFC West standings with the win and San Francisco’s 20-17 loss Sunday against Baltimore. The teams boast identical records, but the Seahawks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker after Seattle’s 27-24 overtime triumph over San Francisco in Week 10 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Those teams will play again, very likely with a division title and a first-round bye on the line, in Week 17 in Seattle.
The Seahawks have been almost unflappable in the spotlight since Carroll’s arrival in Seattle in 2010. Carroll’s squads are 26-5-1 in prime-time games, including 10-2 on Monday Night Football.
In this particular instance, the Seahawks woke up from a rather sloppy first half to quell the Vikings.
Trailing 17-10 at the intermission, the Seahawks’ defense forced a three-and-out on Minnesota’s first drive, then Russell Wilson engineered a nine-play, 71-yard drive that culminated with Rashaad Penny’s 1-yard touchdown run at the 9:06 mark in the third quarter.
Running back Dalvin Cook fumbled on the ensuing drive for the Vikings, and subsequently left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. The Seahawks converted that turnover into a 29-yard Jason Myers field goal to take a 20-17 lead.
Seattle’s defense forced another punt, then Wilson found David Moore over the top of the Vikings’ defense for a 60-yard touchdown pass to put the Seahawks up 27-17 with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks’ defense came up with another key turnover, with Tre Flowers snatching the ball out of Stefon Diggs’ hands to put Seattle on Minnesota’s 25-yard line.
“That was a such an extraordinary interception, I don’t know how he did that,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks capitalized on the short field, as Wilson found Penny on a screen pass for a 13-yard touchdown at 13:37 in the fourth quarter to put Seattle up 34-17.
The Vikings did not roll over, though.
On a play that Carroll acknowledged was a blown coverage, Kirk Cousins connected with Laquon Treadwell for a 58-yard touchdown pass at the 12:59 mark in the fourth quarter.
Then, after a fumble from DK Metcalf on the Seahawks’ next drive, the Vikings chopped the lead to four after Cousins marched the Vikings 72 yards on eight plays and found Kyle Rudolph for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 7:46 remaining. Dan Bailey missed the extra point wide left to keep the Vikings from pulling within a field goal.
The Seahawks’ offense was forced to punt on their next drive but burned 3:47 off the clock, and the defense held serve, forcing a stop on fourth-and-4 on the next Vikings possession.
Seattle took over with 2:27 remaining and drained the game clock down to 25 seconds after Myers’ 36-yard field goal extended the lead to 37-30.
A fumble forced by Malik Turner and recovered by Travis Homer on the ensuing kickoff sealed it.
Throughout the course of the game, the Seahawks got the job done with their running game against a stingy Minnesota defense that was giving up just 94.2 rushing yards per game entering Monday. Additionally, the Vikings had surrendered just three touchdowns on the ground for the season.
The Seahawks did not follow along with that trend.
Seattle rushed for 218 yards on 43 carries and scored two touchdowns. Carson rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries, just the third running back to amass over 100 yards against the Vikings’ defense this season, joining Kansas City’s Damien Williams (125) and Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (116). Penny added 74 yards on 15 carries.
“It’s awesome. It’s so great to see those guys battle it out,” Carroll said of his backfield tandem. “Raashad looked so fast tonight. So awesome.”