One of the keys to Percy Harvin's impact on the NFL game is that he is what analysts call a "field-tilter" – an individual player in the ultimate team sport that can singlehandedly impact the outcome of a game. Harvin is that definition. While he didn't make a huge impact in a 41-20 blowout win, the timing of his contributions led to the turning point of the game.
The Vikings were hanging with the Seahawks early on. With nine minutes to play in the first half, the game was tied 10-10 and the Seahawks were facing a third-and-10 play from their own 44-yard line. On the only play of the game that Russell Wilson would target Harvin in the offense all day, Harvin made a spectacular one-hand juggling catch that few other players would be capable of making. He hauled in the pass for a 17-yard gain and kept the drive alive.
With a new lease on life, the Seattle offense took immediate advantage of the Harvin play, as Wilson completed a 34-yard strike to tight end Zach Miller down to the Vikings 5-yard line. Three Marshawn Lynch carries later, when he went over from 1 yard out, Seattle had a 17-10 lead with 6:26 to play in the first half.
The Vikings went on an 11-play drive that ate all but 48 seconds left on the clock in the first half and, when Blair Walsh kicked a 45-yard yard field goal, the Vikings were down 17-13 looking to head to halftime with some momentum in their favor.
Enter Harvin, stage left.
Harvin had been lobbying head coach Pete Carroll to allow him to return kickoffs because he has the ability to break a big return that could change the momentum of a game. With returner Jermaine Kearse out of the game with a concussion, Harvin got his wish and made the most of it.
Taking a kickoff four yards deep in the end zone, Harvin returned it 58 yards to the Vikings 46-yard line. It took Wilson just five plays to cash in on the excellent field position, completing three of four passes (the only incompletion coming when he spiked the ball to stop the clock with 16 seconds to play in the first half). On the next play, Wilson threw a 19-yard touchdown to Doug Baldwin with 10 seconds left in the first half to give Seattle a 24-13 lead an intermission.
"We realized he was back there. Thought we could cover the kick. We didn't," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Harvin and his return. "He ended up with great field position and they ended up scoring. Big sequence. But we realized he was back there."
In the end, Harvin was only involved in the Seattle game plan for two plays. He was targeted once in the passing game and made an incredible catch to keep a touchdown drive alive. His other touch was on a kickoff that he returned 58 yards to set up another touchdown.
While his contribution to the win may have seemed minimal, he made the most out of his two plays and, as a result, he helped Seattle score 14 points in the first half that led to an 11-point halftime lead that would balloon in the second half.
In the end, the Seattle win was resounding and everyone had a part in it – offense, defense and special teams. But it can be argued that the two touches Harvin had against the Vikings made the biggest impact – changing the complexion of the game and, as he has done so many times, created the turning point of the game. The only difference this time was that it wasn't for the Vikings, it was against the Vikings.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Harvin: Two touches, both key on TD drives
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