Many Subplots with Vikings-Seahawks

The return of Steve Hutchinson to Seattle and the Vikings' sharpness after returning from nearly a week off are two of the interesting sidelight stories to Sunday's NFC matchup between the Vikings and Seahawks.

Did Brad Childress make a smart move by giving his players almost the entire bye week to rest? We're about to find out.

The first-year Vikings coach and his team will take its 3-2 record to Seattle this weekend to face one of the NFC's best clubs. Sure, the Seahawks won't have Pro Bowl running back Shaun Alexander but they promise to provide a tough test for Minnesota, which had to rally at home against lowly Detroit to avoid heading into the bye at one-game under .500.

Playing in noisy Qwest Field will make life that much more difficult for a Vikings offense that is still looking to get on track and has only outscored the defense by one touchdown (4-3) this season.

This game also will mark the return of Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson to Seattle for the first time since he bolted town to sign a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Vikings last spring. That, of course, sparked the "Poison Pill" battle that saw the Seahawks pry restricted free agent receiver Nate Burleson away from Minnesota.

While the Vikings obviously got the better of the deal, emotions are sure to run high on the field and in the stands as Hutchinson figures to get a very icy reception from spurned fans.

Childress, meanwhile, is hoping the focus remains on his team's attempt to get off to a good start out of the bye. He certainly isn't banking on Alexander's absence being that helpful.

"I think they've got enough tools with obviously (quarterback Matt) Hasselbeck," Childress said. "That's kind of the guy that dishes the football out. He has pretty wide latitude right now on run-pass, on changing plays at the line of scrimmage, and I think he and their receiving corps and the offensive line and Mack (Strong) will be plenty for us."

If the Vikings continue to look sluggish on offense, or look sluggish at all, there could be some questions about Childress' decision to allow his players to have what essentially amounted to a seven-day break.

Quarterback Brad Johnson admitted, "Everyone is jealous throughout the league," when asked about the Vikings' hiatus. But they won't be jealous if the Vikings come out and lay an egg in a city where they have lost four of five games and haven't won since 1990.

The last two times the Vikings have played in Seattle they have been blown out by 25 and 22 points. The first of those defeats came in 1996 and the second in 2002.

Childress, of course, wasn't around for those losses and neither was defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, who miraculously has his defense in the top five in the NFL in his first season.

This, though, figures to be one of the Vikings' toughest tests of the first half of the season and things don't figure to get much easier in Week 8 when they play host to New England in a Monday night game.

SERIES HISTORY: 10th meeting. The Seahawks lead the series 6-3. This will mark the sixth time in franchise history the Vikings have played at Seattle. Minnesota's only win in Seattle came in 1990 at the Kingdome. The teams met for the first time in 1976 when Seattle was an expansion team. The Vikings won that game 27-21 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. Seattle then won the next three meetings.


  • The Seahawks beat the Vikings 27-23 on Dec. 12, 2004 at the Metrodome in the last meeting between these teams. QB Matt Hasselbeck threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns for Seattle, and receiver Darrell Jackson caught 10 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings standout was defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who had 10 tackles, a sack and three quarterback hurries.

  • That game came just over a year after the Vikings routed the Seahawks 34-7 at the Metrodome. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper had three touchdown passes of more than 40 yards in the victory and receiver Randy Moss caught two of them. Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was picked off twice.

  • The Vikings dropped to 0-4 in Mike Tice's first full season as head coach with a 48-23 loss at Seattle on Sept. 29, 2002. The loss spoiled Tice's return to Seattle, where he played for 10 seasons. Receiver Randy Moss caught six passes for 50 yards in the game but more importantly dropped four potential touchdown passes.

  • S Darren Sharper and K Ryan Longwell played for Seattle coach Mike Holmgren in Green Bay.

  • WR Marcus Robinson had seven catches for 131 yards and a career-high four touchdowns against Seattle on Nov. 23, 2003 when he was with the Baltimore Ravens.

  • QB Brad Johnson has played only two games against the Seahawks, completing 12 of 19 passes for 157 yards with a touchdown, an interception and an 84.8 quarterback rating.

  • The Vikings' only victory in Seattle came on Nov. 19, 1990 when Fuad Reveiz kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired for a 24-21 victory at the Kingdome. Running back Herschel Walker had a 58-yard touchdown run for the Vikings in the victory.

  • WR-KR Bethel Johnson also could see time returning punts in place of Mewelde Moore. Moore is averaging 7.1 yards on 14 returns this season.

  • Johnson is listed behind Troy Williamson and Billy McMullen at receiver on the Vikings' depth chart.

  • Strong-side linebacker Ben Leber said the bye week greatly benefited his sprained left knee. Leber, who is listed as probable for Sunday's game, expects to discard the brace he wore on the knee in the Vikings' Week 5 victory over Detroit. "I can't really put a quantity on it as far as how good or what scale," Leber said of the injury. "But it feels great. I needed that rest."

  • Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is listed as probable for Sunday. Jackson returned to practice Wednesday after missing time following arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee late last month. He will be the emergency quarterback against Seattle.

  • DT Kevin Williams leads the Vikings with 16 quarterback hurries, which is only four fewer than he had last season.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 3-1 — Vikings record coming out of the bye week over the past four seasons. The Vikings' only defeat came in 2005 when they lost at Chicago.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It would be a good test to see where we are at, especially as a rushing defense. I think we stop the run pretty good. ... It would be nice to play against the reigning MVP to see where we match up." — Weak-side linebacker E.J. Henderson on the fact Seattle running back Shaun Alexander will miss Sunday's game because of a broken foot.

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