Vikings vs. Seahawks: Takeaways from Minnesota's 41-20 Loss to Seattle

Tim Arcand@@TArcandCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

Vikings vs. Seahawks: Takeaways from Minnesota's 41-20 Loss to Seattle

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    The only surprise in the Minnesota Vikings' 41-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks was what took so long? Even though the Seahawks were never in any danger of losing this game, it was reasonable close after three quarters with the Vikings down 24-13. 

    After trading scores through most of the first half, when the Vikings were able to tie the score at 3-3 and 10-10, Seattle scored a go-ahead touchdown and held the Vikings to a field goal. 

    With 0:52 left in the half, Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 58 yards to give the Seahawks the ball on the Vikings' 46-yard line. Wilson led the Seahawks on a five-play drive that ended with a 19-yard pass to Doug Baldwin. It gave Seattle the 24-13 lead at halftime. 

    After a scoreless third quarter, where the Seahawks seemed to toy with the Vikings, allowing them to hang around, they broke the game open in the fourth quarter. Three Vikings interceptions—two by Christian Ponder and one by Matt Cassel, quickly led to a 41-13 lead for Seattle and put the game away with 10 minutes left in the game. 

    Cassel led the Vikings to a meaningless touchdown for the final score when Seattle was playing its backups. 

    The loss drops the Vikings to 2-8 on the season and puts them squarely in the running for a high draft pick as Tampa Bay defeated Atlanta for its second win of the season. Now if only Jacksonville can find a way to win another game. 

    Here are some takeaways from another tough game for the Vikings. 

These Are 2 Teams Going in Different Directions

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Seahawks are the anti-Vikings. 

    Seattle has a bona fide franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson—the Vikings have Ponder.

    Seattle has an emotional coach who knows how to get the most out of his players, even when they lose starters to injuries—the Vikings have a stoic Leslie Frazier, who seems to have lost his team. 

    The Seahawks have a defense that can take over a game when it needs to—the Vikings defense has not been able to come up with a big play for most of the season. 

    Seattle is on the verge of wrapping up the top seed in the NFC; the Vikings are battling for the top pick in the draft. 

    It shouldn't be any surprise that the Seahawks crushed the Vikings, 41-20.

    Here's hoping that the Vikings can find the same path Seattle took from finishing 4-12 in 2008, to being the top team in the NFL at 10-1 in 2013. 

Sometimes a 3rd-Rounder Is Better Than a 1st-Rounder

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    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    Ponder was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Wilson was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 draft. 

    In less than two seasons, Wilson has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. With his 41-20 victory over the Vikings, he is 21-6 as a starter since taking over as a rookie last season. 

    Against the Vikings, he was nearly perfect, as he completed passes to 10 different receivers. He finished 13-of-18 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating was just short of perfect at 151.4.

    Compare that to Ponder, who is now 13-20 over three seasons. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the game. 

    His passer rating was about as far away from perfect as you can get at 53.0. 

    There's no doubt that this will be Ponder's last season in Minnesota, probably along with head coach Leslie Frazier, who continues to trot him out there as the starter. 

Matt Cassel Is Not the Answer Either

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    Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Usually, when the backup quarterback gets into the game, it's usually because one of two situations—the team is way ahead, and all he has to do is turn around, hand off the ball and run out the clock, or the team is way behind and he gets to throw a lot of passes. 

    With the Vikings this year, there is only one of those situations happening. 

    Cassel got to play in the fourth quarter after Ponder threw two interceptions on back-to-back drives leading to 14 points for the Seahawks. 

    After Ponder was taken out of the game with a 53.0 passer rating, incredibly Cassel was able to do worse. He finished 5-of-13 passing for 78 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating was 52.7—sure if you round it up, it's really the same as Ponders—meaning both quarterbacks are terrible. 

Maybe It Is Time for Josh Freeman to Get Another Start

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    After his disastrous Vikings debut, when he had little more than a week to prepare, there will be a lot of people calling for Josh Freeman to get another shot—especially after the dreadful performances by Ponder and Cassel.

    In three consecutive fourth-quarter series, Ponder and Cassel threw three interceptions that turned a 24-13 game into a 41-13 rout.

    Combined, they were 18-of-35 with two touchdowns and three interceptions, for a 52.6 passer rating.

    It's been four weeks since Freeman last played. If anyone in the Vikings organization thinks Freeman is the answer, now is the time to find out.

    After completing only 20 of 53 passes against the Giants for 147 yards and an interception, he cannot play any worse—right? 

A Slow Start for 2 Premier Running Backs

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    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch—the fourth- and second-leading rushers in the NFL, started out extremely slow. 

    At halftime, Peterson had only 35 yards on 14 carries, and Lynch had only 29 yards on 10 carries.

    The difference was that Lynch scored two touchdowns in the first half to help Seattle to a 24-13 halftime lead. 

    By the end of the game both would have fewer rushing yards than Toby Gerhart. Gerhart finished with 67 yards on seven carries—all of them in garbage time after the Seahawks had a 41-13 lead.

    Peterson finished with 65 yards on 21 carries as the Seahawks bottled him up for a 3.1-yard average.

    The Vikings did a pretty good job on Lynch, as he finished with only 54 yards on 17 carries. He added a third touchdown in the fourth quarter on an eight-yard pitch-pass from Wilson. 

    When you win, it's an efficient effort; when you lose, it's an utter failure. 

The Return of Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford Didn't Help

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    The Vikings welcomed back a couple of starters to their defensive backfield—it didn't make any difference.

    Cornerback Chris Cook and safety Jamarca Sanford were back on the field for Minnesota after missing several games. 

    Wilson was extremely efficient in this passing as he carved up the Vikings secondary. He only threw 18 passes, but he completed all but five of them for 230 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Sanford finished with seven tackles, one for a loss and a quarterback hit. Cook finished with two tackles. Neither made a play of note to help turn the momentum in the game—in fact, it might be just the opposite. 

    Cook had coverage on Harvin on a 3rd-and-10 in the second quarter. Wilson put the ball in the area of Harvin as he was hit, and Harvin made a great catch. First he tipped it up with one hand as Wilson put the ball over Cook, and then kept his hands on the ball, catching it as he fell to the ground. The catch was good for 17 yards and a first down. 

    Four plays later, Lynch would score a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 17-10 lead. If Cook comes up with a play on that third down, the Seahawks don't score. Maybe, just maybe, it makes a difference—probably not.  

The Seahawks Have Plenty of Former Vikings

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    Everson Griffen is going to be a free agent after the season, perhaps Pete Carroll is letting him know things will be better.
    Everson Griffen is going to be a free agent after the season, perhaps Pete Carroll is letting him know things will be better.Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Seahawks have five players on their roster that spent some time with the Minnesota Vikings—wide receivers Harvin and Sidney Rice, running back Derrick Coleman, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and linebacker Heath Farwell. 

    Their offensive coordinator is Darrell Bevell, who held the same job in Minnesota. Frazier demoted Bevell, and eventually let him go, after being named the head coach. 

    They also gave cornerback Antoine Winfield a shot after the Vikings cut him to clear some cap space. 

    Pete Carroll seems to find a way to get the most out of his players, while Frazier's team is underachieving. 

    With plenty of players most likely in their last season with the Vikings, it will be interesting to see where they end up. 

    Who wouldn't want to join one of the best teams in the NFL? 

    I can see Jared Allen playing in Seattle next year. That's where John Randle finished his career after 11 seasons in Minnesota.  

Sometimes Statistics Don't Mean a Thing

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    If you just look at some of the statistics, it would seem that the Vikings did a pretty good job against the Seahawks. 

    Coming into the game, the Vikings were last in the NFL allowing teams to convert 50 percent of their third downs. They held the Seahawks to only 4-of-11 on third down—36.4 percent.

    The Vikings are also 31st in the league in time of possession. The defense has allowed the opposition an average of 34:30 in time of possession. Seattle only had the ball for 25:51 in the game.

    They also held the top rushing team in the NFL to only 93 net rushing yards—well below their average of 153.4 yards.

    Of course, when the offense has four turnovers that leads to 20 points, it really negates all the good things the defense did.

There's No Way to Sugarcoat This One

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    The Minnesota Vikings are a long way from being a good football team.

    When the offense puts together a good game, the defense cannot come up with a play to preserve a win.

    In this game, the defense did a pretty good job of limiting Seattle through three quarters, only to have the offense, behind the three interceptions by Ponder and Cassel, give the Seahawks a short field to play on. The result was 17 points in less than five minutes. 

    The Vikings just seem in capable to putting together a complete game—and that falls directly to the coaching staff.

    Not that the Vikings ever had a chance to win this one, but it should not have been this ugly.