A recap of the Seahawks’ 24-13 loss to the Vikings in Minneapolis on Saturday night:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Earl Thomas. The rookie free safety turned in the play of the game with his 86-yard interception return for the Seahawks’ only touchdown. But he also broke up another pass – or dropped a second interception, as veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy ribbed Thomas after the game.
Thomas also had a big hit on Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin to break up a pass in the third quarter and forced a play that led to defensive end Chris Clemons stopping running back Adrian Peterson for a 1-yard loss in the second quarter.
It was just a Saturday night sampler of the skills that prompted the Seahawks to select Thomas with the 14th pick in April’s NFL draft.
“We drafted him because he’s a playmaker,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He was the best playmaker in the country.”
On this Saturday night in Minneapolis, Thomas also was the best playmaker in a game filled with players who have fashioned Pro Bowl, All-Pro and even Hall of Fame careers by making big plays.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Faced with a fourth-and-4 play in the fourth quarter, the Vikings not only went for it, Sage Rosenfels went to the end zone. Rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond had Javon Walker covered, but the just-signed wide receiver still came up with the ball for proved to be the game-winning score.
Defense: Thomas’ interception return, of course. But there were so many others, let’s give some love to the first of Clemons’ two sacks. Brett Favre had completed a 34-yard pass to a wide open Harvin on the Vikings’ first play of the game. But two plays later, Clemons not only got to Favre he forced a fumble that recovered by defensive tackle Colin Cole.
In looking to answer that nagging how-will-the-Seahawks-generate-a-pass-rush quandary, start with Clemons, who now has three sacks in as many preseason games.
Special teams: On the kickoff following Thomas’ TD return, the Vikings’ Darius Reynaud broke a 73-yard return to set up a game-tying touchdown.
Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, making his preseason debut after sitting out the first two games because of a sore hamstring, had five tackles and broke up a pass.
Wide receiver Deion Branch and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hooked up on a 41-yard pass play, when Hasselbeck noticed the Vikings in a coverage the Seahawks had worked against all week in practice and alter the play call before the snap.
Jon Ryan continued what has been an impressive preseason by averaging 55.2 yards on six punts, and could have improved on his net of 41.7 if his 67-yarder had not skipped into the end zone for a touchback.
Leon Washington got the start at running back, after Julius Jones and Justin Forsett started the first two games. But he averaged only 2.7 yards on six carries.
The Seahawks converted three fourth-down situations, but were only two of 15 on third downs.
The Vikings had a huge advantage in time of possession – 37:08 to 22:52 – because they had the ball for almost 21 minutes in the first half.
Rookie tight end Anthony McCoy sprained an ankle during the second quarter and did not return.
Carroll said any other injuries were only bumps and bruises.
Ten injured or on-the-mend Seahawks did not play: offensive linemen Russell Okung, Ben Hamilton, Ray Willis and Chester Pitts; linebackers Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne; tight end Chris Baker; defensive linemen Kentwan Balmer and Nick Reed; and cornerback Josh Pinkard.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We accomplished a lot of stuff we needed to accomplish tonight. Unfortunately we don’t get the win to have fun with it.” – Carroll
Peephole perspective: The Vikings scored a touchdown on a fourth-down pass, then iced the game with a late interception and return to set up a TD run with 2:48 to play.
Player of the quarter: Javon Walker. Just signed by the Vikings because of an injury to Sidney Rice, Walker scored on the fourth-down pass – a 25-yarder to give the Vikings the lead.
Play of the quarter: It appeared the Seahawks had stopped the Vikings’ first drive of the quarter. But on fourth-and-2, rather than kick a game-tying field goal, Sage Rosenfels passed to Walker for the TD.
Stat of the quarter: 14, as in points scored by the Vikings in the final seven minutes.
The bigger picture: Rosenfels took over for the Vikings and got the offense moving against the Seahawks’ No. 2 defense. Rosenfels capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive with the 25-yard TD pass to Walker on fourth down with 7:09 to play. Rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond had Walker covered on the play, but the Vikings’ just-signed wide receiver came up with the catch in the end zone.
When the Seahawks got the ball back, they were backed up at their own 7. But that lasted one play, as Whitehurst threw a nice pass to Golden Tate along the sideline for a 41-yard gain. The Vikings, however, came right back as Marcus Sherels intercepted a Whitehurst pass and returned it deep into Seahawks territory. Sherels was the cornerback Tate beat on the long pass play.
The Vikings capitalized, as Ryan D’Imperio lunged into the end zone on third down for a 7-yard TD that made it 24-13.
Peephole perspective: Big plays by the defense and offense got the Seahawks in position to take a 13-10 lead on the 34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare.
Player of the quarter: Mare. In a quarter with an erratic ebb and flow, the veteran kicker gave the Seahawks the lead.
Play of the quarter: Following an interception by Marcus Trufant, Matt Hasselbeck and Mike Williams hooked up on a 42-yard pass play to the Vikings’ 31 to set up Mare’s go-ahead field goal – a 34-yarder.
Stat of the quarter: 28. The Vikings’ total yards.
The bigger picture: On the Vikings’ fourth play, cornerback Marcus Trufant intercepted Brett Favre’s deep pass to give the Seahawks the ball at their own 27.
Matt Hasselbeck then took a shot, and took a shot, to get the Seahawks to the Vikings’ 16. First, he and Mike Williams hooked up for a 42-yard pass play on first down. Then, the Vikings’ Ray Edwards was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer on the next play because he hit Hasselbeck in the head. But T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped Hasselbeck’s first-down pass, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen blew up his attempted screen pass to Julius Jones and Hasselbeck was pressured into thrown an incompletion on third down. Olindo Mare gave the Seahawks a 13-10 with a 34-yard field goal.
The Seahawks got the ball back quickly, thanks to another big play by Earl Thomas. This time the rookie free safety broke up Farvre’s third-down pass to Percy Harvin with a big hit. But the Seahawks’ possession lasted only three plays as Letroy Guion got to Hasselbeck for a sack on third down.
Charlie Whitehurst took over the Seahawks, but a holding penalty on center Chris Spencer helped stall his first series.
Peephole perspective: A long interception return for a touchdown by Seahawks rookie Earl Thomas. A long kickoff return by the Vikings’ Darius Reynaud to set up a TD run. A field goal for each team. That’s how they things got tied at 10.
Player of the quarter: Earl Thomas. The Seahawks used the 14th pick in April’s NFL draft to select the playmaking free safety from Texas. Thomas showed why by returning an interception 86 yards for a TD, and the first score of the game. Thomas also had two solo tackles.
Play of the quarter: Welcome to the NFL, Earl. He not only had the long interception return, Thomas flaunted his speed while doing it.
Stat of the quarter: 6 of 8 for 70 yards. Those were Matt Hasselbeck’s passing numbers.
The bigger picture: The teams made up for lost opportunities in the opening quarter, and quickly. On the Vikings’ third play of the quarter, Thomas picked off a Brett Favre pass and returned 86 yards for a touchdown.
Reynaud then returned to the ensuing kickoff to the Seahawks’ 23 and Adrian Peterson scored on a 24-yard run two plays later to tie the score.
The Seahawks gave Hasselbeck some time on their next possession and he passed them to the Vikings’ 15, before a false start on Mansfield Wrotto and a holding penalty on Sean Locklear forced the Seahawks to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Olindo Mare. Hasselbeck hit his first three passes to Cameron Morrah (5 yards), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (10) and Deion Branch (42).
Seahawks rookie tight end Anthony McCoy was taken to the locker room with an ankle injury and ruled out for the remainder of the game. The Seahawks already were without veteran Chris Baker, who has a hamstring injury.
The Vikings took the ensuing kickoff and used the power running of rookie Toby Gerhart and some precision passing by Favre in moving the Seahawks’ 10. Gerhart got things rolling with runs of 7 and 9 yards. Favre then passed 20 yards to Greg Lewis to the Seahawks’ 40 and 15 yards to Naufahu Tahi to the Seahawks’ 31 on third-and-16. Gerhart picked up the first down on fourth down with a 4-yard run to the Seahawks’ 27, and Favre passed for 15 yards to Visanthe Shiancoe. But the drive stalled and Ryan Longwell kicked a 28-yard field goal to tie it at 10 with 1:12 to play.
Peephole perspective: A missed field goal by the Seahawks. Brandon Mebane’s stop on Adrian Peterson on a fourth-down carry from the 2. It made for a scoreless quarter.
Player of the quarter: Brett Favre was 7 of 10 for 82 yards.
Play of the quarter: On the Vikings’ third play of the quarter, Chris Clemons got to Favre for a fumble-forcing sack and Colin Cole recovered the loose ball.
Stat of the quarter: The Vikings converted four of five third-down situations.
The bigger picture: In a nice touch for Minnesota-born John Carlson, he was one of the co-captains – along with Matt Hasselbeck and Lawyer Milloy.
The Seahawks open in a two-tight end set, with Carlson and Anthony McCoy on the left side to help tackle Mansfield Wrotto with the Vikings Jared Allen, who led the NFC with 14½ sacks last season. Hasselbeck passed to T.J. Houshmandzadeh – to the right side – for a 13-yard gain on the first play of the game. But the drive stalled.
The Vikings opened with a big play – Favre’s 34-yard pass to a wide-out Percy Harvin. But the Seahawks’ followed with an even bigger play – Clemons’ fumble-forcing sack that Cole recovered.
The Seahawks got three points out of the turnover, as Olindo Mare kicked a 38-yard field goal. But Max Unger was penalized for an illegal formation and Mare then slapped a 43-yard attempt wide right.
Favre also made the Seahawks pay, driving the Vikings to the Seahawks’ 2-yard line. The Vikings converted four third-down situations as Favre passed to Visanthe Shiancoe for 7 yards on third-and-5, threaded a 22-yard pass to Greg Camarillo on third-and-9, Adrian Peterson ran for 3 yards on third-and-1 and Favre went to Camarillo for 12 yards on third-and-7. But Peterson then on third-and-goal and Brandon Mebane hit Peterson on fourth-and-2.
Ten injured or on-the-mend Seahawks will not play tonight:
CB Josh Pinkard
OG Ben Hamilton
LB Leroy Hill
LB David Hawthorne
OL Chester Pitts
OT Ray Willis
OT Russell Okung
TE Chris Baker
DT Kentwan Balmer
DE Nick Reed
Leon Washington gets the start at running back, while Mansfield Wrotto and Mike Gibson will start at left tackle and guard.
For the Vikings, DT Jimmy Kennedy will not play.
Greetings from Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, where the Seahawks are preparing to play their third preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The schedule might say it’s the preseason, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and his Vikings counterpart, Brad Childress, are treating this as the final tune-up for their team’s regular-season openers. The starters for both teams are scheduled to play into the third quarter.
For the Seahawks, that means the reworked left side of the offensive line – tackle Mansfield Wrotto and guard Mike Gibson – will have to find a way to give Matt Hasselbeck time to go through his progressions while working against Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and tackle Kevin Williams.
For the defense, that means dealing with Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson, and doing a better job of getting off the field than the Seahawks did against the Green Bay Packers and the Tennessee Titans the past two weeks.
Pardon the lateness, and shortness, of this, but we’re experiencing the usual techical difficulties at the Metrodome.
For more on how the Seahawks also need to communicate better in the game, click here.