Minnesota Vikings 35, Seattle Seahawks 9
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Play of the Day: Nate Burleson's 36-yard one-handed catch while being interfered with to help set up the Seahawks' first points of the day.
Handouts to the Standouts
Burleson was one of the few Seahawks to play well on Sunday, catching six passes for a game-high 100 yards. Burleson also returned two punts for 13 yards, with one of his returns going for 14 yards.
Middle linebacker David Hawthorne was making plays all over the field, finishing with a game-high 15 tackles, including one for a loss, and got a hit on backup Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the 4th quarter. Hawthorne still struggles somewhat in pass coverage, but he is proving to be a very sound tackler.
Things That Made Me Go "Blech!"
The Seahawks set a new franchise-low with just 4 yards rushing on Sunday. Their previous low was a 14-yard "effort" against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6.
Going against one of the NFL's top run defenses without starter Julius Jones, Seneca Wallace opting to run for a 9-yard loss when he should have thrown the ball away, along with Justin Forsett no longer being an unknown commodity could be pointed to as reasons for the lackluster performance on the ground, but that would be letting the offense off the hook. Seattle couldn't run the ball today because—across the board—the offensive line continuously lost the battles up front, and when the defense and special teams allowed the Vikings to open up a 21-point lead in the 2nd quarter, running the ball would be for change-of-pace purposes only, as the offense needed to throw the ball to climb back into the game.
Seattle's secondary was overmatched by the size and speed of the Vikings receivers, including tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (8-78-1) and Sidney Rice, who had his way with Seahawks' cornerbacks on his way to a 6-catch, 89-yard performance that included two touchdowns—one where he out-jumped several ‘Hawks defenders to catch a 50/50 ball (more like 80/20), and another where he used his speed and power to blow by Trufant, turning a 4-yard completion into a 34-yard touchdown.
Annually ranking among the least-penalized teams in the NFL, the Seahawks were flagged an astounding 10 times for 64 yards on Sunday. Most of the damage came in the 2nd quarter, when the Seahawks were penalized 7 times for 49 yards. Among the infractions were a pair of offsides flags on Brandon Mebane, back-to-back false starts by Max Unger and Sean Locklear, two flags (including a 15-yard face-mask) on Jordan Babineaux, and a shouldn't have been called tripping penalty on Deon Grant.
Without a running game to keep them honest, the Vikings were able to pin their ears back and attack Matt Hasselbeck, sacking him twice, but getting a few other hits on him to make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Though held without a sack, Jared Allen led the Vikings' pass rush, hitting Hasselbeck three times and applying near constant pressure whenever Hasselbeck dropped back to pass.
Hasselbeck finished the day 19-of-26 for 231 yards, with a passer rating of 84.0. The Seahawks did a good job of moving Hasselbeck around, and aside from his 36-yard strike to Burleson, most of Seattle's big plays in the passing game (over 15 yards) were on screens, play-action bootlegs, or off three-step drops in an attempt to negate the pass rush.
Seneca Wallace would replace Hasselbeck for the final drive, throwing a pair of incompletions before bobbling the ball and taking a sack on third down. Wallace got into the game for a pair of "Senecat" play, throwing a 46-yard pass which was dropped by Burleson. Even if Burleson hadn't dropped the pass, it would've been negated by a John Carlson holding penalty.
On the second "Senecat" play, Wallace ran out of bounds, inexplicably taking a nine-yard loss on the play.
Seattle really struggled on third downs on Sunday, converting just 1-of-10 conversion attempts, with the lone conversion coming on Justin Forsett's 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Forsett was held to 9 yards on 9 carries, but caught 8 passes for 80 yards, including a nifty 47-yard scamper on a screen pass to set up his touchdown. Despite his decision in free agency being one of the more talked about storylines of the week, T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a pedestrian showing, catching 4 passes for 36 yards.
Deion Branch caught one pass for 15 yards and (once again), and Carlson and third-round wide receiver Deon Butler were inexplicable after-thoughts in the offensive gameplan. Carlson had four passes thrown his way, but was frequently held in to help in pass protection, while Butler did not log one official offensive snap on Sunday, an egregious misuse of the one offensive weapon that has more speed than anyone on the Vikings' defense. The closest Carlson came to a completion was on Seattle's failed two-point conversion attempt, which head coach Jim Mora challenged, but lost.
As mentioned above, Seattle's ground game was awful in a record-setting way on Sunday. Perhaps no play reflects the ineptitude than Seattle going with a heavy backfield of Owen Schmitt lead-blocking for Justin Griffith to convert a 3rd-and-1. Predictably, the he play went nowhere, but someone really needs to explain the logic behind handing the ball off to your fullback, who had one carry entering Sunday, and having him run behind your backup fullback, who if he were a better lead-blocker, would presumably be starting.
After showing quite a bit of promise a week earlier, Louis Rankin did not have a carry on Sunday.
They were facing one of the best defensive lines in the league, but the Seahawks' offensive line was really disappointing on Sunday. Locklear struggled with Jared Allen's speed, and Ray Willis wasn't much better on the other side. Rob Sims, Chris Spencer, and Unger couldn't generate much push against the Williams' Wall.
His toughness and willingness to play injured are to be applauded, but Spencer's right thumb was a problem again on Sunday. Forced to snap with his off-hand, Hasselbeck and Wallace bobbled snaps from Spencer, resulting in a pair of losses totaling 24 yards. In shotgun formations, there's an inconsistency to Spencer's left-handed snaps that appears to be disrupting the timing of the Seahawks' passing offense.
Brett Favre became the latest in a long line of Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks to light up the Seattle Seahawks secondary, completing 22-of-25 passes for 213 yards and 4 touchdowns for a passer rating of 141.7. If that weren't bad enough, Tarvaris Jackson—yes, that Tarvaris Jackson—replaced Favre before the 3rd quarter ended, and completed 6-of-8 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 144.3.
Sure is a good thing that the Seahawks haven't devoted a lot of draft picks and free agent dollars towards building this defense over the last five years, isn't it?
Seattle posted a pair of quarterback sacks on Sunday, with defensive ends Darryl Tapp and Cory Redding recording one apiece. Both sacks came on the rare play(s) where the secondary did its job and provided no gaping holes for Vikings receivers to settle into.
When Favre, T-Jack, and the Vikings receivers weren't busy moving the chains and giving the Metrodome scoreboard operator a workout, Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor were carving the Seahawks run defense to the tune of 155 yards on 35 carries.
Hawthorne was the defensive leader, notching 15 tackles (11 in the first half), and Colin Cole had a season-high seven tackles. Meanwhile Leroy Hill chipped in with six of his own, including one on Peterson for a 1-yard loss that saved the Seahawks the embarrassment of Peterson break the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Perhaps more importantly, it saved the team from having Steve Hutchinson's streak of blocking for a 1,000-yard rusher extended against them.
Safeties Babineaux (11) and Grant (10) both posted double-digit tackle numbers on Sunday, but those aren't the sort of tackle numbers you want to see from your safeties.
Seattle's defense really missed cornerback Josh Wilson, who sat out today's game with a concussion. Wilson was replaced in the starting lineup by Kelly Jennings, and in the slot by Babineaux, with Lawyer Milloy seeing an increase in his playing time this week. Milloy's increased playing time came at the expense of first-round linebacker Aaron Curry, who was not part of the team's nickel packages, which were used frequently throughout the first half, even when the Vikings were not using multiple receiver sets.
Olindo Mare was 1-for-1 on field goal tries, and put two of his three kicks into the end zone, one for a touchback. Ben Obomanu made a solid tackle to keep Harvin from reaching the Vikings 20-yard line on one return. With the Vikings expecting an onsides kick in the fourth quarter, Harvin let a Mare kick sit on the ground for a minute, allowing the Seahawks coverage unit an opportunity to pin the Vikings inside the 5-yard line. Instead, Harvin found a lane and returned the kick 18 yards before D.D. Lewis and Rankin stopped him.
Punter Jon Ryan had another stellar day, averaging 44.1 yards per punt. Vikings punt returner Darius Reynaud had two pretty good returns (12 & 14 yards) against the ‘Hawks coverage units, but Obomanu made a nice open-field tackle on Reynaud after a 60-yard punt by Ryan.
With Forsett starting at running back, Rankin and Obomanu handled the kick return duties. Rankin returned two kicks for 42 yards, while Obomanu's 30.5-yard average on a pair of returns is marred by a costly fumble in the 2nd quarter that set-up the Vikings' third touchdown of the quarter.
Game Notes: QB Mike Teel (3rd QB), RB Julius Jones, CB Josh Wilson, G Mike Gibson, G Mansfield Wrotto, TE Cameron Morrah, DE Derek Walker, and DT Craig Terrill were inactive on Sunday…Over the last 26 games, opposing quarterbacks have a 96.2 passer rating against the Seahawks…Seattle is now 0-for-2 on two-point conversion attempts this season.
The Seahawks were expected to struggle to run the ball against the Vikings' 6th-ranked run defense, but four yards? It was expected that the Seahawks would struggle to stop Favre, but to allow him to complete 88% of his attempts and throw four touchdown passes? It was even expected that the Seahawks would suffer a double-digit loss, but to lose by 26 points and watch your opponent pull their starting quarterback in the 3rd quarter?
What Sunday's 35-9 loss showed was that the Seahawks are nowhere near capable of being competitive against a team currently at the top of their conference. With Tim Ruskell's contract expiring in a few weeks, that might not have been the worst thing for the NFL world to have seen.In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.