The Vikings made a surprise move to start the game, sitting Teddy Bridgewater and starting Shaun Hill. The Vikings said the move was a “coaches decision,” with head coach Mike Zimmer expected to address the situation after the game. Bridgewater practiced all week leading up to the game.
Hill finished the first quarter 5-for-9 for 46 yards, including an 18-yard pass to Adam Thielen to convert a third down on the first drive, one that stalled at the Seattle 41 after Hill was high throwing for Thielen on another third down.
The Seahawks took the punt and advanced to the Minnesota 41 before punting back, but the Vikings lost CB Xavier Rhodes to a hamstring injury on that drive.
Both teams punted again as the game moved to the second quarter.
The Vikings defense gave up more yardage in the running game than Zimmer would want – 70 in the first half – and weren’t getting much going in their own running game, but while the offensive line wasn’t able to open big running lanes it was able to adequately protect Hill in the passing game.
Hill started the Vikings’ fifth drive with a 12-yard pass to Matt Asiata and 32-yard completion to Kyle Rudolph on consecutive throws, the second having 15 yards tacked on for a late hit on Hill. Facing third-and-8, Hill hit MyCole Pruitt for 12 yards and the Vikings were inside the 5-yard line. From there, Jerick McKinnon finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and Asiata finished the drive with a catch on the 2-point conversion.
Andrew Sendejo got the fourth sack of Russell Wilson to end the Seahawks’ ensuing drive, and the Vikings turned to Joel Stave and the second-team offense to run the two-minute drill. Stave found a quick rapport with Thielen, hitting him for completions of 8, 17 and 18 yards, the final one allowing Blair Walsh to ironically finish the first-half scoring with a 27-yard field goal – the same distance he missed with 22 second left in the one-point playoff loss in January.
The Vikings closed the half with an 11-0 lead.
The Vikings closed the half with an 11-0 lead, with Hill’s night ending with him going 10-for-17 for 129 yards. Thielen’s night ended with 61 yards on four catches, but the running backs had only 17 yards on 12 carries.
The Seahawks finished their first drive with Steven Hauschka missing a 53-yard field goal attempt, but it was a punting festival after that in the third quarter as the Vikings maintained their 11-0 lead.
On their fourth drive of the half, the Seahawks returned to backup quarterback Trevone Boykin after giving third-stringer Jake Heaps a chance. The Seahawks mixed the run and pass nicely in the first five plays, then found an opening around right end that Troymaine Pope exploited for a 27-yard run that moved to the 4-yard line after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Antone Exum. On the next play, Pope ran in for the touchdown and Boykin capped the drive with a diving run for the goal line on the 2-point conversion, pulling the Seahawks within three points, 11-8, with 12:49 to play.
A 23-yard run from Pope on the Seahawks’ next possession got them near midfield, and 10 plays later Hauschka tied the game with a 49-yard field.
When Walsh missed from 47 yards out on the Vikings’ next possession, the game was getting dangerously close to overtime, but Marcus Sherels intercepted a Boykin pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown and an 18-11 Minnesota lead with 1:23 to play.
Despite a 53-yard pass interference penalty on rookie CB Mackensie Alexander, two Justin Trattou sacks on Seattle’s final drive helped keep the Vikings in front as the clock expired on an incomplete pass in the end zone.
They were the same nine players that didn’t practice this week because of injuries: DT Sharrif Floyd, G Brandon Fusco and LB Eric Kendricks among the starters, along with WR Jarius Wright, CB Melvin White, CB Tre Roberson, S Anthony Harris, LB Brandon Watts and DT Scott Crichton.