Seahawks Soar Over Vikings
After jumping out to a 4-1 record in the first 5 weeks of the 2012 NFL season the Minnesota Vikings were one of the biggest surprises in the league. The Vikings had everything falling in place and it seemed like they may be battling for an NFC North Title. Minnesota traveled to Seattle to play the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field where the home team is notoriously tough to beat. The Seahawks were 3-0 entering this matchup with the Vikes, after a little help from the replacement refs to secure a win against the Packers. Minnesota has had its struggles on the road but if they were hoping to return to postseason play they are going to have to figure out how to win these tough road games.
The game had the league’s top two rushers pinned against each other, the Vikings Adrian Peterson and the ‘Hawks Marshawn Lynch. Adrian Peterson had a ridiculous game jumping out of the gates quickly with a 70+ yard scamper. He would punch it in from 1 yard out and put his team up 7-0, adding a 2nd touchdown in the 2nd quarter to tie up the game. Peterson was explosive, looking like his old self, chugging his way down the field and blowing through defenders. Peterson may be the best running back in the NFL again, statistically he is, but this is a passing league now and you need some adequate QB play to win games.
AP would carry the ball just 17 times, but he averaged 10.7 yards per carry, totaled 182 rushing yards and had 2 rushing touchdowns. Peterson has been nearly unstoppable in the past 3 games racking up 458 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns, averaging over 8 yards per rush over that span. Peterson leads the league with 957 rushing yards, has the 2nd highest ypc average among running backs, is tied for 3rd in the league with 6 rushing touchdowns and his 11 rushes of 20 or more yards leads the NFL. He is the only running back in the league that averages more than 100 yards rushing per game, but his team has been slumping.
Peterson is a beast and it will be difficult for any team to defend AP when he is running like he has been but without a QB or a staunch defense Minnesota is in trouble. Sure AP could control the clock and pound the football but when the Vikings are down, which lately they have been, the offense looks lost and Christian Ponder is unable to throw his way out of a paper bag. Over the same 3 game period that Peterson has dominated Ponder has done everything but. He has completed just 38 of his 74 pass attempts for 372 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. His struggles continued against Seattle and for the 2nd time in 3 weeks he was unable to surpass the 100 yard passing mark, actually he hasn’t surpassed the 65+ yard passing mark.
Ponder completed 11 of his 22 passes on Sunday for 63 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. His leading receiver was Adrian Peterson who had 3 catches for 11 yards, while Jerome Simpson led the team in receiving yards with his lone catch going for 14 yards. That was also Ponder’s long completion of the day. The frustration began to boil over on the Vikings sidelines during the game when WR Percy Harvin was shown having a heated discussion with head coach Leslie Frazier. Frazier would take off his headset to speak with Percy in an attempt to calm him down.
Harvin and the Vikings had stormed down the field behind some big rushes by Adrian Peterson, while Percy’s 15 yard rush of his own brought Minnesota to Seattle’s 14 yard line. From there Ponder dumped it off to Toby Gerhart for 3 yards, missed Harvin on a bubble screen and was sacked on 3rd and 7. Harvin was upset and he wanted everyone to know about it, but things got worse for the Vikings star wideout. He would be knocked out of the game before returning later, but was injured again and finished the game with a season low 2 catches for 10 yards. Harvin has already come out and said that it is unlikely he will play next week and the mutiny has begun.
Seattle had a solid game from Marshawn Lynch who rushed the ball 26 times for 124 yards and a 3rd quarter touchdown that would seal the Vikings fate. The difference in this game however, was rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson was 16-24 for 173 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, but the way he was able to extend plays was instrumental. He rolled out of the pocket, extending the play, giving him enough time to find Sidney Rice coming across the back of the end-zone for his 2nd TD pass. The other two went to Golden Tate and 1 came from an incredible play by the WR who almost made a boneheaded mistake. Tate broke free and hurdled over Vikings CB Josh Robinson, stretching for the end-zone and being blasted by Everson Griffen. The ball was jarred loose but not until after it had crossed the goal-line and given the Seahawks a lead.
The Seahawks would wind up winning the game 20-30 and the only points that the Vikings were able to muster in the 2nd half was a 55 yard field goal by rookie kicker Blair Walsh. The Vikings ship may be sinking and it will be interesting to see who will go down with it. Christian Ponder is a likely casualty if his poor play continues but after reaching for him as the 12th overall pick 2 years ago Minnesota may not have much of a choice. I believe Frazier is protecting Ponder by not allowing a playmaker like Joe Webb to step on the field, whose only pass attempts came in junk time against the Titans. Minnesota is in trouble and their record doesn’t look as promising as it did just a few weeks ago.