Sherels' touchdown was certainly the flashiest play of the game, but another fringe roster defender may have found his place on the team with an impressive performance.
Defensive end Adrian Awasom was looking like a strong candidate for the 53-man roster before Saturday night, but he only improved his chances with his pesky play against the Seahawks. First, he was a key cog in the team's impressive goal-line stand, when Seattle's Justin Forsett was held to one yard on four carries on the doorstep of the end zone. Awasom made the third-down stop during that series.
"That goal-line stand by our defense was terrific. It was a great job by them being on the road, hostile environment, in that situation," head coach Leslie Frazier said.
But the Arena League acquisition was the biggest pest of the evening. In the preseason opener, the Vikings defense had three quarterback hurries. On Saturday night, Awasom blew past that total on his own, much like he beat his blocker consistently on his way to four of the team's 10 quarterback hurries. Three of those came in the first half against Tarvaris Jackson, but the defensive end continued to work through the final series of the game. He harassed third-string quarterback Josh Portis, pressuring him once on the final series before getting the Vikings' only sack of the game on the final play of the game.
Awasom also showed his versatility when he jumped to bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage after swinging inside on a stunt with the defensive tackle.
A CASE FOR CARTER
Another non-starter to stand out was the team's latest acquisition, cornerback Tony Carter. He had a team-high three passes defensed, nearly half of the team's eight for the game. One of those came in the first series of the second half, and on the next series Carter dropped receiver Kris Durham for a 2-yard loss when he sniffed out a smoke screen.
He had a hand in the start and finish of Seattle's next possession, as well. It began when Carter dropped punt return Richard Sherman as soon as he fielded a punt, and that drive ended when Carter knocked away a fourth-down pass.
The Vikings gave up only one sack, but it came early. On their second offensive snap, tight end Kyle Rudolph went on a pass pattern and left tackle Charlie Johnson blocked down inside instead of picking up defensive end Raheem Brock, who sprinted unblocked and leveled QB Donovan McNabb.
"You don't want guys running free on your quarterback in our league. We've got to go back and look at that and just figure out why that happened, but you don't that," Frazier said.
Johnson settled in after that, as did McNabb. The quarterback completed 6 of 8 passes for 81 yards and a 106.8 rating. That first-series sack was the only one taken by the Vikings' quarterbacks.
While the Vikings ramped up the playing time for their starters as the preseason progresses, they were without three likely starters – WR Percy Harvin, TE Visanthe Shiancoe and G Anthony Herrera.
None of those scratches for Saturday night's game in Seattle were unexpected. Harvin was dealing with a rib/abdominal injury that kept him out of practice for most of last week and Shiancoe didn't practice at all last week because of a hamstring injury. Herrera, the incumbent starter at right guard who is facing competition for that spot, began working with the first-team offense on a limited basis this week but shared time there with Scott Kooistra, who made the start at right guard Saturday. Herrera continues his comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered on Nov. 21.
Other players not in the lineup against Seattle were CB Asher Allen (toe), S Simeon Castille (hamstring), FB Asiata (hip flexor), LBs Heath Farwell (hamstring) and Kenny Onatolu (foot), WR Greg Camarillo (groin) and DE D'Aundre Reed (calf).
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.