Friday night's preseason opener was supposed to be a showcase of the Vikings' improved defense. Instead Seattle scored on its first three possession en route to a 34-17 win at the Metrodome.
The Vikings' season opener was supposed to be a showcase of its new-look defense, but it was the Seattle Seahawks offense that dominated the portion of the game in which the first-team units were on the field in Friday's 34-17 loss at the Metrodome.
The Seahawks scored on their first three possessions of the game to build an early lead and had the Vikings defense on its heels.
"They did a lot of three-step drop passes," defensive end Jared Allen
said. "Their passing game turned into their running game. We needed to do a better job of getting off the field."
One bright spot for the Vikings defense came on the second drive of the game. Following a Vikings turnover on a Visanthe Shiancoe
fumble, the Seahawks had a first down on the Vikings' 12-yard line, but the defense made a stand to force Seattle into a kicking a field goal.
"It was our first game and it looked like it," linebacker Chad Greenway
said. "We can't get overly concerned based on tonight. At the same time, we realize that we have to improve and take that back into practice this week. The one positive we had was getting them to settle for a field goal after the turnover. We wanted to come out and have them go three-and-out, three-and-out. That didn't happen, but we did make some plays when we needed them."
The Vikings will have Saturday off before returning the practice Sunday and perhaps this time Camp Childress may be a little more intense than it has been the first two weeks of training camp.
Erin Henderson tied for the team lead with four tackles, earning kudos from his brother E.J., who said Erin is not allowing his relationship as the star linebacker's brother to have him lose focus, saying, "He shows me that respect. I'm willing to help him out wherever I can, but he is going to have to earn his spot on the team and he knows that."
Seattle dominated the team stats, gaining 419 yards (257 passing, 162 rushing) to 298 for the Vikings (246 passing, 52 rushing). The Seahawks had a decided edge in first downs (25-18) and turnovers – none for Seattle, five for the Vikings (four fumbles and one interception).
Individually, Seneca Wallace was the passing star, completing 15 of 20 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns. As a team, the Seahawks completed 24 of 31 passes for 257 yards and four TDs. Maurice Morris led all rushers with 62 yards on just six carries. Rookie Justin Forsett did the bulk of the running, carrying 13 times for 58 yards. Seven different Seattle players had multiple receptions, led by rookie Michael Bumpus with three catches for 51 yards.
For the Vikings, John David Booty did most of the passing, completing nine of 18 passes for 82 yards and one interception, which came on the final play of the game. As a team, the Vikings completed 22 of 38 passes for 268 yards with one TD and one interception. Maurice Hicks was the leading rusher for the Vikings with 32 yards on seven carries. Albert Young had the most rushing attempts with 11, but gained just 13 yards. Young was the only player with more than two receptions for the Vikings, catching five passes for 52 yards.
Chris Kluwe didn't see a lot action, but made the most of it, averaging 53.3 yards on his three punts on the night.
Fourteen different Vikings caught at least one pass Friday. Not to be outdone, 15 Seahawks players caught passes.
The one highlight for the Vikings was on kickoff returns. The team returned seven kickoffs for 205 yards.
In the final minute of the game, Nate Jones got foot caught in an awkward position and push backwards, wrenching his knee. Jones attempted to get up, but couldn't initially maintain his balance. He would eventually get up after about a minute and run off the field under his own power and was in good spirits in the locker room afterwards.
The Seahawks dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Vikings 14-0 thanks to three Minnesota fumbles. Seattle out-gained the Vikings 104-35, rushing for six yards and passing for 98. The Vikings had 34 yards passing and just one yard rushing in the quarter.
For the quarter, T.J. Duckett had six rushes for two yards and Albert Young was the Vikings' leading rusher with just six yards on four carries. Young's bigger contribution was as a receiver, catching two passes in the quarter for 29 yards.
Wallace had a big quarter, completing nine of 11 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a passer rating of 143.4 for the quarter. Three of his passes went to Bumpus – good for 53 of his 98 yards in the quarter.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Duckett appeared to make his second fumble of the night, but, like the first one (see below) it didn't happen. The officials ruled that Duckett had fumbled and DE Otis Grigsby had recovered. Mike Holmgren challenged the fumble and, after further review, the call was overturned, the drive continued and the Seahawks would go on to kick a field goal.
Booty's first official drive was looking pretty successful in the third quarter, as he completed three passes to get the Vikings into scoring position at the Seattle 30-yard line, but the drive ended when Booty was hit from behind by defensive end Lawrence Jackson and was recovered by linebacker Jason Babin. The Seahawks would put together an 11-play drive that led to a 20-yard Olindo Mare field goal to give the Seahawks a 34-17 lead.
Hicks had a fumble midway through the third quarter that gave Seattle the ball on the Vikings 31 – a fumble coming on the first play for Booty at quarterback. The Seahawks would take full advantage, driving 31 yards in five plays, capped by a 1-yard touchdown to former Viking Joel Filani to take a 31-17 lead.
The second half got off to a brutal start. On the second play of the half, Albert Young was stood up in the hole and fumbled, giving Seattle the ball on the Minnesota 33-yard line. It looked as though the Seahawks would return the favor two plays later when Duckett fumbled, but the turnover was negated by a facemask penalty on rookie Letroy Guion that allowed Seattle to keep possession. Two plays later, the Seahawks would take full advantage of the turnover to take a 24-17 lead.
Despite being dominated early, the Vikings actually held a yardage advantage (218-209) at halftime. The Vikes had 171 yards passing and 47 yards rushing, while the Seahawks had 114 yards passing and 95 rushing.
Individually, the Seahawks combined for a passer rating of 137.9, as Hasselbeck completed seven of eight passes for 70 yards and a TD and Wallace completed five of seven passes for 44 yards and a TD. Morris finished with six carries for 62 yards, much more impressive than Julius Jones, who had just 15 yards on four carries.
The Vikings had a passer rating of 117.4, as Jackson completed eight of 11 passes for 118 yards and Gus Frerotte completed four of seven passes for 60 yards. Maurice Hicks led the rushers with 37 yards on six carries. Chester Taylor finished with four carries for seven yards and Adrian Peterson didn't have any rushing attempts. Three Vikings had two receptions – Berrian catching two for 43 yards, with Wade and Aundrae Allison each catching two passes for 38 yards.
The Vikings were six of eight converting third downs in the first half, while Seattle converted none of their three third-down opportunities.
Rookie Jaymar Johnson gave the team a boost with a 23-yard punt return in the final five minutes of the first half.
Second-team offensive tackle Drew Radovich was injured in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. After getting worked on by the medical staff, he was taken off the field on a cart.
The Seahawks didn't have to punt until their fourth possession of the game and first of the second quarter – after scoring on all three of their first-quarter drives.
The Vikings' short-yardage offense got the job done in its first chance early in the second quarter, but not without some difficulty. It took three chances from the 1-yard line before Taylor was able to jump over the goal line for a score to cut Seattle's lead to 17-14. On the next series, the Vikings faced a second-and-2 from 16-yard line, but Maurice Hicks got stuffed on two carries for one yard and, on fourth down, fullback Naufahu Tahi got slammed down for no gain to turn the ball over on downs midway through the second quarter.
The Vikings played the entire first quarter without running the ball once. Wide receiver Sidney Rice said the game plan for 10 passes on the first 10 plays and was pleasantly surprised. "We knew it was coming," Rice said. "When we saw the game plan had so many passes to start, we were a little surprised. To see those pass plays was great (for the receivers) because we knew we would be busy."
The Seahawks dominated the first-quarter statistics, completing 10 of 11 passes for 103 yards and two TDs, while rushing nine times for 84 yards. The Vikings completed seven of 10 passes for 103 yards with no rushing attempts. The first Vikings rush came on the 12th play of the game, with 14:26 to play in the first half.
Individually, Matt Hasselbeck completed 7 of 8 passes for 70 yards, while Wallace completed all three of his passes for 33 yards and a TD in the first quarter. Maurice Morris led the rushing attack with six carries for 62 yards. Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson each had two catches – for 29 and 20 yards, respectively. Jackson completed seven of his 10 passes for 103 yards. Berrian caught two passes to lead the team with 43 yards.
The passer ratings were out of this world in the first quarter. Hasselbeck had a passer rating of 142.7, while Wallace had a 152.1 rating. Jackson had a rating of 138.8 in the first quarter.
The situation for the Vikings defense wasn't improved upon when the second-team defense came into the game. Second-string QB Seneca Wallace led Seattle with 71 yards on seven plays, completing all three of his passes, culminating with a 15-yard TD to tight end Jeb Putzier.
Jayme Mitchell left the game with an ankle injury on his second play with the second-unit defense. Two plays later, linebacker Heath Farwell was injured. He lay on the field for more than a minute before being helped off with what appeared to be a right knee injury. Farwell needed a great deal of assistance from the medical staff just to get off the field.
The Vikings' first-team offense got on the board with a five-play, 49-yard touchdown drive. Jackson converted a third-down pass of 19 yards to Berrian to set up the score and sealed the deal with a 6-yard screen for a TD to Thomas Tapeh.
Berrian's first reception as a Viking was a 24-yard slant pass that put the team in scoring position.
Darius Reynaud gave the Vikings a spark with a 53-yard kickoff return midway through the first quarter, trying to make a case for the Vikings keeping him on the roster.
On their second defensive drive, the first-team defense made a stop in the red zone. After getting from Vikings 43 to the 12 on just two plays, the defense made a stand, stopping Morris on a 1-yard screen – with Jared Allen nearly getting his first sack as a Viking – a 1-yard run by Morris and a 7-yard dump off to TE Will Heller. The Seahawks had to settle for a field goal.
The Vikings' first drive of the preseason was nothing short of disastrous. After picking up a first down on the first offensive play of the season – a pass from Jackson to Jim Kleinsasser - Bernard Berrian's first Vikings reception was negated by a holding call on Anthony Hererra and backed the team up 10 yards. On the next play, Visanthe Shiancoe fumbled a reception in Vikings territory to end the first drive with a turnover.
Running back Albert Young got a chance to run back the Vikings' first kickoff return of the preseason.
The Seahawks' first-team offense looked to prove why they have won the NFC West the last four years. The Seahawks drove 76 yards in seven plays, as Hasselbeck completed four of his five pass attempts for 52 yards and Maurice Morris had two carries for 24 yards to give Seattle a 7-0 lead with 11:43 to play in the first quarter.
Kicker Steven Hauschka had the chance to boot the opening kickoff for the game. He isn't expected to unseat incumbent Ryan Longwell.
Vikings safety Madieu Williams was in uniform Friday, but did not play. He suffered a neck injury in Thursday's practice, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he hopes Williams will be available for next Saturday's game in Baltimore.
This was the fourth time in five years that the Vikings have met the Seahawks in the preseason. In the previous three (all in Seattle), the Seahawks won 30-13 in 2007, the Vikings won 23-21 in 2005 and the Seahawks won 23-21 in 2004.
Friday's game was the first time the Vikings have played the Seahawks at the Metrodome in the preseason since 1993.
Thanks to a healthy training camp, the Vikings only had three players who did not dress – CB Marcus McCauley, TE Garrett Mills and DE Brian Robison.
It was a far different story for the Seahawks, who had 15 inactive players – WRs Logan Payne and Deion Branch, center Chris Spencer, OTs Floyd Womack and Samuel Gutekunst, DLs Patrick Kerney, Chris Cooper, Marcus Tubbs, Nu'u Tafisi and Larry Triplett, LBs Will Herring, Wesly Mallard and Will Herring, CB Jordan Babineaux and P Ryan Plackemeier.
Former U.S. Olympic wrestler Dennis Koslowski blew the ceremonial horn for the team introductions prior to the game.
The Vikings' captains for the game were Adrian Peterson (offense), E.J. Henderson (defense) and Heath Farwell (special teams).
VU Grand Poobah Bob Lurtsema celebrated his 42nd anniversary Friday, but, like the former player he is, he did so at the stadium with his wife at home.
The paid attendance was 62,545 – the 105th straight sellout at the Metrodome, dating back to 1998.