Flashback Friday: Seattle Seahawks 27, Minnesota Vikings 23 (2004)

The Vikings still “backed into the playoffs,” but a curious decision late in the game contributed to a close loss to the Seahawks in 2004.

Each week during the 2015 season, Viking Update examines a past game against the Vikings' upcoming opponent. Some of the choices are obvious; others are not. However, all the games chosen stand the test of time. 

This Week

Seattle at Minnesota
Dec. 12, 2004

The Scenario

Mike Tice's maddeningly streaky Minnesota Vikings faced a big test when the 6-6 Seattle Seahawks invaded the Metrodome late in the 2004 season. For the second consecutive year, the Vikings had squandered a terrific start. In 2003, a 6-0 record disintegrated into a 3-7 finish and no postseason berth. The 2004 Vikings were in danger of following a similar script. After winning five of its first six games, Minnesota lost four of its next six contests to stagger into the Christmas season with a 7-5 mark and a playoff present in serious jeopardy. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper was enjoying an MVP-type season, which would result in a league-high 4,717 passing yards, a team-record 39 touchdown passes, and an NFL-record 5,123 total yards. However, Minnesota's 28th-ranked pass defense made hanging onto any lead a dangerous proposition. The Vikings desperately needed to right the ship against Mike Holmgren's Seahawks, who were led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander. Vegas installed Minnesota as a 6.5-point favorite.

The Game

Minnesota looked sharp offensively in the early going. Two efficient drives sandwiched around a missed Seattle field goal delivered a 10-0 Purple advantage. Running back Onterrio Smith accounted for the majority of the 45 yards during Minnesota's first drive, capped by a 48-yard Morten Andersen field goal. A few minutes later, Smith found the end zone on a 5-yard run to finish a six-play, 72-yard march. Any thoughts of a Vikings blowout were dispatched by the Seahawks before the close of the first quarter. Matt Hasselbeck exposed the porous Minnesota secondary on a six-play, 80-yard drive. A 35-yard pass to Bobby Engram cut the Vikings’ lead to 10-7 late in the first stanza.

Seattle continued to move the ball at will in the early stages of the second quarter. Shaun Alexander, who would finish with 127 yards rushing, caught a 12-yard TD pass from Hasselbeck to complete a quick six-play, 76-yard drive and give Seattle its first lead of the game, 14-10. The Vikings responded, thanks to a 54-yard Culpepper to Randy Moss connection that set up Andersen for a successful 32-yard field goal. The Minnesota offense didn't get much time to rest. On Seattle's first play after the Andersen field goal, cornerback Brian Williams intercepted a Hasselbeck pass intended for Darrell Jackson to give the Vikings the ball at the Seahawks 49. Culpepper took advantage. The physically imposing quarterback ran four times for 27 yards to propel the Vikings deep into Seattle territory. He regained the lead for Minnesota with a 3-yard TD toss to Moss. With just over five minutes remaining in the half, it appeared momentum was once again colored purple as the Vikings enjoyed a 20-14 advantage. Hasselbeck, though, rebounded from his interception to lead the Seahawks down the field, hitting on all three of his passes during a 60-yard drive, the last of which was a 19-yard touchdown strike to Jackson. At the half, Seattle maintained a 21-20 lead.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1619180-vikings-jersey-swaps-can-...

It appeared Hasselbeck would continue his hot hand with the first drive of the second half as he completed his first three passes. His fourth attempt was complete as well, only to the wrong team. Minnesota's Brian Russell returned the interception 41 yards to give the Vikings the ball at the Seattle 14. Three unsuccessful plays forced the Vikings to settle for Andersen's third field goal of the afternoon, a 31-yarder, and a precarious 23-21 cushion. Five minutes later, the lead was gone. Josh Brown ended a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal to put Seattle on top 24-23 with 6:42 left in the third quarter.

Neither team seriously threatened until just over six minutes remained in the game. Culpepper fumbled at his own 26 and Rashad Moore recovered to give Seattle a golden opportunity to build a two-score lead. To its credit, the Minnesota defense held, forcing a 28-yard field goal from Brown. Down 27-23, the Vikings had 3:13 remaining to mount a 70-yard game-winning drive. A pass interference call against Marquand Manuel and a Michael Bennett 11-yard burst put Minnesota at the Seattle 20. On first down, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan got too tricky for his own good. Rather than rely on the arm of his Pro Bowl quarterback, Linehan called for Moss to pass. The wide receiver took the handoff from Culpepper and rolled right. Under pressure, Moss tossed an ill-advised pass in the direction of Marcus Robinson, who was double-covered in the end zone. Michael Boulware intercepted the pass to deflate the 64,110 fans jammed in the Metrodome.

Following a defensive stand, the Vikings did get the ball back at their own 11 with 44 seconds remaining and no timeouts. A 21-yard pass to Jermaine Wiggins and a 36-yarder to Moss gave Minnesota a glimmer of hope at the Seattle 23 with four seconds on the clock. However, Culpepper's pass for Wiggins fell incomplete on the final play. The Vikings had lost for the fifth time in seven games, 27-23.

Key Play

Wide receiver Randy Moss throwing an interception in the end zone from the Seattle 20 in the late stages of the game. The poor throw extinguished Minnesota's best hope for a late score.

Vikings Player of the Game

It was far from his best game of the season, but quarterback Daunte Culpepper was effective on the afternoon, completing 21 of 33 passes for 270 yards with a touchdown and rushing for 32 yards.

Purple Honorable Mention

Wide receiver Randy Moss caught four passes for 104 yards and one TD.

Post-Game Chatter

(via The Associated Press)

Scott Linehan (Vikings offensive coordinator)

"I take responsibility for calling that play (the Moss pass and interception). I wish I could have it back. That's life."

Daunte Culpepper (Vikings quarterback)

"We'd love to have that play back, but we can't."

Lance Johnstone (Vikings defensive end)

"Disappointment is the only word I can think of."

Aftermath

For the second straight season, Minnesota won only three of its final 10 games. Unlike the 9-7 Vikings of 2003, the 2004 edition made the playoffs despite an 8-8 record. In the first round, the Vikings shocked the favored Packers at Lambeau Field, 31-17. The strange season came to a close a week later in the divisional round of the playoffs when they fell to eventual NFC Champion Philadelphia, 27-14.


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