By Joseph Gunther
Adrian Peterson did everything he could for the Minnesota Vikings. However, his 182 rushing yards were not enough as the Vikings fell to the Seattle Seahawks 30-20 Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Peterson began right from the opening drive with 80 yards by himself, including a 74-yard scamper to the Seahawk one-yard line. The 182 yards came on just 17 carries. He also had the Vikings only two touchdowns and led the team with three catches.
The game can be defined by two plays.
The Vikings (5-4) followed up its opening drive touchdown by forcing a punt. The Vikings were in the driver seat, but Percy Harvin turned the ball over on a fumble inside its own 20-yard line. The Seahawks had a short field and it took advantage three plays later on a six-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate.
The second defining play came late in the second quarter when the Seahawks (5-4) tried to convert on fourth down at the Viking 48-yard line. Wilson tried to sneak off the right guard and appeared to be tackled short of the necessary yardage, but the ball was spotted at the 47 to give the Seahawks a first down. Antoine Winfield, who was involved in the tackle, was visibly upset with the spot. The Seahawks hurried to the line of scrimmage and did not give the replay judge a chance to review the play. Because the play came right after the two-minute warning, the Vikings were unable to challenge the spot. The Seahawks capped the drive with a touchdown with 52 seconds remaining.
If the spot had been short of the first down line, the Vikings would have had one minute and roughly 50 seconds remaining in the first half and 52 yards to add to a three point lead.
The Vikings have progressively gotten worse with its passing offense and running defense since winning four of its first five games this season. Head coach Leslie Frazier said after the game on KFAN radio that they felt they had a good feeling about its game plan for throwing the ball. That game plan, whether it was the plays called, the wide receivers’ execution or the quarterback’s execution, netted just 44 passing yards and four sacks allowed.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams’ unit just cannot stop the opposing quarterback. Sunday was no different, it has allowed a 100-yard rusher in four straight games – including Marshawn Lynch’s 124 Sunday.
If not for Peterson this would have been a complete disaster. Peterson totaled 193 yards (182 rushing and 11 receiving). The rest of the offensive unit totaled 94 yards. Christian Ponder threw for 63 yards (44 towards the team total because of sacks) while completing 11 of his 22 passes. The second-year quarterback also ran for 23 yards. Percy Harvin was obviously not 100 percent for most of the second half. He spent time with the trainers nursing the hamstring injury that has hampered him in recent weeks.
Despite the poor play in recent weeks, the Vikings have two players leading the league in their respective statistical categories. Peterson extended his league-leading rushing total to 76 yards over Lynch. Harvin has one reception lead over the Indianapolis Colts’ Reggie Wayne for the league-lead in receptions.
The Vikings defense played so well while the team won four of its first five games this season. As the team has dropped three of its last four, the defense has significantly underperformed. The biggest reason for the downfall has been tackling. The team has missed tackle after tackle.
The positive for the defense was that Chad Greenway extended his league lead to 15 tackles over the New England Patriots’ linebacker Jerod Mayo. Jared Allen, combining with Brian Robison, recorded a half sack to give 7.5 this season.
The defensive backs struggled to stop Wilson and wide receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. The loss of Chris Cook to the injured reserve list loomed large Sunday. Josh Robinson and A.J. Jefferson struggled to keep close tabs on the Seahawks’ best two receivers.
The special teams sure didn’t mess this game up. Blair Walsh made his fifth field goal of over 50 yards this season. He also had four touchbacks in five kickoff attempts. The rookie is now 17-of-18 in field goal attempts and 19-of-19 on extra point attempts on the season.
The kickoff returners for the Vikings averaged 26.3 per return, led by Harvin’s 39. Chris Kluwe punted three times for a 48.3 yard average, including a long of 57 yards. Kevin Williams also made a big play for the special teams by blocking an extra point attempt by Steven Hauschka to keep the Seahawks from taking a seven-point lead.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.