First-year head coach Brad Childress has gone out of his way to change the culture in the land of 10,000 lakes, and his no-nonsense approach seems to be working. The offense has been very well balanced with 221 yards per game in the air and 104 more on the ground, but they have struggled putting the ball in the end zone. They score only 17.8 points per game, as quarterback Brad Johnson came into Sunday's matchup with just three touchdown passes on the year. However, they have made great strides on the other side of the ball, only surrendering 16.4 points per game. The Vikings have been especially tough on opposing running backs, giving up just 74.4 rushing yards per game.
The Bears came back to beat Minnesota in dramatic fashion in Week 3, getting a game-winning touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Rashied Davis in the final minute. A crucial fumble forced by Tommie Harris sparked the rally, and Grossman rewarded his defense with his first career fourth-quarter TD toss. The Monsters of the Midway emerged from their three-game tour of the NFC North with a 3-0 record, solidifying them as a Super Bowl contender.
Minnesota traveled to the Emerald City to face the Seahawks, the defending champions of the NFC, on Sunday.
After racing off to a 3-0 start of their own, the Seahawks were humiliated by the Bears 37-6 before a prime time audience on Sunday Night Football. They got themselves together over their bye week and defeated St. Louis in a 30-28 barnburner last Sunday to move their record to 4-1. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is in the conversation for NFL MVP right now, but that is largely due to the fact that Seattle has been without the reigning MVP, tailback Shaun Alexander. Their strength is in the passing game, with Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, and Bobby Engram forming arguably the most talanted receiving corps in the league. The front seven on defense is fast and athletic, but the secondary has been exposed and is giving up 239.2 yards per game through the air.
In what might be the upset of the day, the Vikings throttled the Seahawks 31-13 in front of a stunned crowd at Qwest Field, pouring it on in the second half with a 21-3 run to finish the game.
Johnson was his steady self under center, completing 15 of 24 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown without an interception. The star of the day was tailback Chester Taylor, who ripped through the Seattle defense to the tune of 169 yards on 26 carries. The highlight was a 95-yard TD run by Taylor in the decisive third quarter, the longest rushing play in Minnesota history. Former Bear Marcus Robinson was the main threat in the passing game, catching four balls for 77 yards and a 40-yard TD strike. On defense, mammoth tackle Kevin Williams had three tackles, a sack, and also recovered a fumble.
As for the Seahawks, Hasselbeck injured his knee and had to be replaced by unseasoned backup Seneca Wallace. The former Cyclone was 14-of-25 for 134 yards, but he was picked off twice and failed to get his offense in the end zone. Maurice Morris filled in for the injured Alexander again, but he was ineffective and a non-factor (17 carries for 49 yards). Jackson had a big day with seven catches for 136 yards, including a 72-yard TD from Hasselbeck in the first quarter. Defensively, newcomer Julian Peterson had 10 total tackles and sacked Johnson twice.
The upset moved the Vikings to 4-2 in 2006, good enough for second place in the division but still two games behind the Bears. They will face a tough test from New England next week at home before a relatively easy four-game stretch that could make or break their season. Minnesota travels to San Francisco and Miami while hosting Green Bay and Arizona, and they should be favored to win each of those matchups.