The Vikings wanted a win to help forget about all their troubles to start the season. Mike Tice wanted a win in his homecoming to Seattle, where he played much of his NFL career. Instead, the Vikings got hammered by another 0-3 team in the first half and were too far out of it to come back.
How bad was it? To wit, in the first half alone: The Seahawks gained 332 yards of total offense. Shaun Alexander had 111 yards rushing and 92 yards receiving and five — yes, an NFL record five — touchdowns. In six offensive possessions, the Seahawks scored five touchdowns and one field goal. On back-to-back kick returns, Seattle's Tim Terry caused fumbles on Nick Davis and D'Wayne Bates. In one minute and 47 seconds, the Seahawks scored 28 points.
And that was all in just the first half. Enough already. A win would have cured some ills, but instead the Vikings were the ones throwing up all over themselves in the first half as Seattle built a 45-10 lead at halftime.
After that, very little mattered in terms of the score, although the Vikings would have stood a better chance had Derrick Alexander and Randy Moss held onto three third-quarter passes they could have had in the end zone. The madness finally ended with the Seahawks winning 48-23.
The Seahawks came out firing against the Vikings' struggling pass defense, and it worked.
On their first drive, the Seahawks converted when they needed to, with a 37-yard pass to Bobby Engram on the game's second play from scrimmage and an 18-yard pass to Darrell Jackson on third-and-6. Then, on a call with bravado behind it, the Seahawks opted for a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 at the 4-yard line, and Trent Dilfer converted it. Two plays later, Shaun Alexander picked up the first score of the game with a 2-yard touchdown run to give Seattle a 7-0 lead at home.
The Vikings offense turned it over to Seattle after three plays, and Seattle stuffed it right back in the end zone. On the third play of the Seahawks drive, facing third-and-1, Alexander popped off a 43-yard run to the 20-yard line. But he must not have been too tired, because on the next play he ran right through the Vikings defense again and finished the drive with a touchdown run that capped his 66 yards on that drive. Just that quickly it was 14-0 Seahawks.
Determined to run, however, the Vikings finally got their offense to put together an extended, consistent drive. Michael Bennett picked up the initial first down with a 13-yard run. Randy Moss converted the next with a 14-yard reception, and Culpepper's 4-yard scramble moved the chains for a third time. The QB did it again with a 2-yard sneak on third-and-1, then one play later took it into the end zone with an 12-yard bootleg in which Bennett turned and threw the block that allowed Culpepper to reach pay dirt. The Vikings were back in the game at 14-7 with 1:49 left in the first quarter.
Seattle answered with another long drive with passes of 11 yards to Jerramy Stevens, 10 yards to Korin Robinson and a 14-yard run by Alexander. However, once Seattle got inside the 20-yard line, a 4-yard scramble and two incompletions from Dilfer forced the Seahawks to settle for a 35-yard field goal and a 17-7 lead.
The Vikings responded with a 14-play field goal drive of their own. With only two plays going for double-digit yardage — a tough 10-yard run by Doug Chapman and a 16-yard pass to Moe Williams on third-and-13 — the drive eventually stalled at the 17-yard line. Gary Anderson brought the Vikings within a touchdown of the lead with a 35-yard field goal (his first of the season) with 3:13 left to play in the half.
And then it all fell apart. Quickly.
On the first play of the Seahawks' next drive, Shaun Alexander scored on an 80-yard screen pass for 24-10 Seattle lead.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Nick Davis was drilled by Tim Terry, and Reggie Tongue recovered on the Vikings 29-yard line. After a 26-yard completion on second down, Alexander finished the drive with a 3-yard run with 1:57 to play in the half. Seahawks 31, Vikings 10.
On the next kickoff return, Terry hit D'Wayne Bates, who also fumbled. Seattle recovered and, on the very next play, Alexander took the ball 14 yards for a touchdown and a 38-10 Seahawks lead with 1:48 to play.
This time Williams got the return call for the Vikings and held on. Instead of a fumble, the Vikings, Culpepper to be specific, threw an interception on second down. Tongue got the pick just on the Vikings' side of midfield and returned it all the way to the end zone for a 45-10 Seattle lead that they took to locker room for halftime.
For all the turnovers and sloppy play in the final three minutes of the second quarter, the third quarter was all about missed opportunities.
The Vikings defense stopped Seattle on its opening drive of the half, and when Nick Rogers forced punter Jeff Feagles to pull down the ball and Harold Morrow stripped it, the Vikings were in position on the 22-yard line.
After an 11-yard pass to Moss, Williams capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 45-17.
And that is when the defense stepped up — and the wide receivers got a serious case of the drops. On two consecutive drives, Moss dropped two passes he usually catches in the end zone and Alexander dropped another one. Instead of pulling within 14 points before the fourth quarter, the Vikings continued to trail by 28 points.
They pulled within 22 points when they put together an 11-play, 55-yard drive that Williams capped with a 5-yard run to make it 45-23 (after the pass failed).
The Seahawks answered with a field goal on the next drive, the last score of the game, and the Vikings were left to ponder an 0-4 start marred by turnovers in many forms and off-field distractions. And they'll have two weeks to think about it all and regroup before facing a Detroit team that could be starting to figure out a little bit — at least how to win, which the Vikings still haven't solved.
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