The Vikings were let down by their special teams several times throughout their 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. We detail that portion of the game and give you more than 30 notes that help tell the tale of the game.
One of the areas that was of greatest concern for the Vikings heading into the 2007 season was special teams. The teams struggled at critical times in games last season that cost them the chance to win a couple of games, if not more. In Saturday's 30-13 loss to Seattle, the special teams again were a source of concern.
In the first quarter, trailing 3-0, Chris Kluwe
bombed a 59-yard punt, but the coverage team was unable to bring former Viking Nate Burleson
down and he found a seam for a 53-yard return to the Vikings 35-yard line that set up the Seahawks' second field goal of the opening quarter.
Following that score to give Seattle a 6-0 lead, the Vikings drove into Seattle's red zone before faltering and Ryan Longwell
was brought in for a 38-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 6-3. Instead, he pushed the kick wide right and the score remained 6-0. While kickers can't be expected to make every field goal, last season Longwell didn't miss a single field goal of less than 45 yards. This preseason he has missed two, including a field goal that would have given the Vikings the lead in the closing minutes of their other preseason loss to the Rams.
While Antoine Winfield
would save his bacon with an interception, Kluwe gave Seattle a chance to blow open the game early in the second quarter with a 20-yard punt that gave the Seahawks the ball on their own 49-yard line to start a drive – yet another poor special teams play that could have resulted in disaster.
After cutting the lead to 16-13 in the final minute of the third quarter, the special teams again came up with a big play against them, as kick returner Josh Wilson
brought back the ensuing kick 40 yards to the Vikings 43. On the ensuing snap, the Seahawks would connect on a 57-yard touchdown.
To win in the NFL, complete teams need offense, defense and special teams. The Vikings got enough from two of those three areas to compete, but gaffes by the special teams early and late turned what could have been a much closer game into a 30-13 blowout.
The Vikings got a scare late in the game as, on the play before the two-minute warning, Cameron Siskowic was injured and needed to be placed on a backboard and removed from the field in an ambulance as a precaution. Siskowic was signed to the Vikings after the retirement of Jason Glenn due to recurring injuries. The first-year linebacker out of Illinois State was seen moving the fingers on his right hand as he was loaded into the ambulance, but his condition wasn't immediately known.
The Vikings held a statistical edge in nearly every respect except the score Saturday night. They outgained the Seahawks 319-281. The Vikings had 34 rushing attempts for 152 yards, while holding the Seahawks to 75 yards on 23 carries. Seattle held a 206-167 yardage edge in passing. The Vikings held the ball for 34:09, as opposed to 25:51 for Seattle. In the second half, the Vikings had the ball for 19:09 of the 30 minutes, but were outscored 14-3.
Neither team was effective on third down. The Vikings made just three of 10 third-down opportunities, while Seattle was worse – converting on just three of 13 attempts.
Individually, the Vikings left the quarterback position battle still up in the air for the third QB position, playing just Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger. Jackson completed nine of 18 passes for 117 yards, while Bollinger didn't look strong, completing six of 11 passes for 52 yards with no TDs and two interceptions.
Seneca Wallace, who looked awful against the Vikings in relief of Matt Hasselbeck last year when the starter was injured, completed five of seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings had to be pleased with the one drive of the second half that featured both Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson. Taylor, who finished the game with eight carries for 61 yards, had two carries for 29 yards on the third-quarter drive. Peterson, who finished with 10 carries for 41 yards, had three carries for 28 yards on the same drive. Mewelde Moore saw a lot of action late with seven carries for 24 yards, and Artose Pinner had five carries for nine yards.
Ciatrick Fason's Vikings career might be nearing its end. He had just one carry – a second-and-goal rush from the Seattle 1-yard line. He was stuffed on the play for no gain and replaced by Moore. He didn't return to the field after that one play.
Thanks to a huge first half, Bobby Wade led all Vikings receivers with five catches for 85 yards. Sidney Rice had three catches for 21 yards to lead the way among the other eight receivers who caught passes.
Kluwe did all the punting for the Vikings, averaging 41.5 yards – perhaps an indication that he has won or at least has the edge in his battle to win the punting job.
Aundrae Allison was given the role of kick returner, but left the game after three returns with a back sprain.
Seldom-seen speedster Todd Lowber got in the game late, but the only play called his way was a bomb that fell incomplete.
Antoine Winfield led all tacklers with eight tackles, as well as an interception.
A couple of defensive linemen looking to earn roster spots came up big for the Vikings late, as Fred Evans created a fumble in Seattle territory that was recovered by Jayme Mitchell to keep some hope alive late.
There were no sacks in the game until Bollinger was taken down with 13 minutes left in the game.
Brad Childress appeared to be calling most of the plays for the Vikings Saturday.
Rookie Marcus McCauley had the swing of the spectrum happen to him in the third quarter. With Seattle pinned deep, McCauley put a big hit in the open field on TE Ben Joppru and followed that up was a pass breakup on third down to force a punt. But, on the next defensive play on the following series, he whiffed on a bump at the line that allowed wide receiver Ben Obomanu to get wide open for a 57-yard touchdown.
The punters both earned their keep early in the third quarter. Seattle's Ryan Plackemeier, who didn't punt in the first half, buried the Vikings on their own 2-yard line with his first punt of the game. On the next punt, Kluwe had a ball that hit on the 1-yard line and darted straight to the left and rolled out of bounds inside the 1-yard line.
While the Vikings brought all their starters out for a series in the third quarter, the Seahawks pulled Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander at halftime.
The time of possession was as even as it could get in the first half, with each team holding the ball for 15:00 of game time.
Jackson was 9 of 16 passing in the first half for 117 yards, while Taylor led the rushing attack with six carries for 32 yards. Peterson was held to just 13 yards on seven carries. Bobby Wade was the receiving hero with five catches for 85 yards.
The Vikings got their first passing touchdown of the preseason, but it came from Wade, who took a handoff and suckered in the Seahawks defense before lofting a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.
Hasselbeck had a decent first half, completing 12 of 17 passes for 129 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Shaun Alexander did almost all of the rushing for Seattle, carrying eight times for 30 yards and a touchdown. Three Seahawks – Deion Branch, Bobby Engram and Marcus Pollard – had three catches each in the first half.
Jackson had a couple of horrible passes in the game that should have been intercepted, but one of them nearly turned into a huge play. Lofting a deep pass, Bobby Wade and Marcus Trufant fought for the ball and the officials called the play at a reception at the Seattle 5-yard line with 50 seconds to play in the half, but a booth review overturned the call and the Vikings eventually settled for a field goal.
Robert Ferguson made his first catch as a Viking in the second quarter on a slant pass that gained 11 yards.
The clock management was a big concern for the Vikings. Of the three timeouts they called, one came late in the game following a Vikings recovery of a Moore fumble, another came on the first play after a kickoff and the third came following an incomplete pass by the offense. You can bet Brad Childress won't be happy about that in film study.
Jackson looked pretty sharp early, completing four of six passes for 53 yards in the first quarter – three of them to Wade for 45 yards.
For the third straight game, Peterson had more rushing attempts than Taylor.
Ryan Cook, who is the front runner for the starting right tackle job, had two false start penalties early in the first quarter – the only two Vikings penalties of the first half.
Seattle opened its early lead thanks to great field position. Thanks to a fumble on the first play of the game and Burleson's long punt return, Seattle opened its first two drives with the ball on the Vikings 19 and 35-yard lines.
An interesting moment early came when E.J. Henderson put a big hit on Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck was complaining last week about Henderson's hit that sidelined him for four weeks last season. The two jawed at one another, but seemed friendly with one another.
Saturday was the 11th time the Vikings and Seahawks have played in the preseason. Coming into tonight's game, the teams had split their first 10 meetings with five wins each.
This was the third time in four years the Vikings and Seahawks have met in the preseason. The last preseason meeting was in 2005 – a 23-21 win by the Vikings. In 2004, Seattle won by an identical 23-21 score. Each of the previous three preseason meetings was decided by two points.