The Seattle Seahawks earned their fourth straight win, beating the Minnesota Vikings 21-7 on Monday night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
With the victory, the 8-5 Seahawks solidify their hold on fifth place in the NFC. Seattle is now 1.5 games ahead of the 6-6-1 Vikings, getting the team one step closer to securing a wild-card berth for the postseason.
Russell Wilson finished 10-of-20 for 72 yards and an interception. Chris Carson chipped in with 90 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Kirk Cousins threw for 208 yards and a touchdowns. Stefon Diggs finished as the Vikings' leading receiver after catching four passes for 76 yards.
Seahawks' Blueprint for Success on Full Display vs. Vikings
It wasn't a lot of fun to watch, but the Seahawks' performance showed what they need to do over the remainder of the season. Especially with Doug Baldwin nursing a hip injury that ruled him out for the game, Seattle is best suited to lean on the running game and count on the defense keeping the opponent out of the end zone.
The Seahawks defense in particular stepped up late in the game when one touchdown would've put the Vikings ahead.
Seattle doesn't boast as much star power on defense as it did during the Legion of Boom era, and the team ranked 16th in defensive efficiency entering Week 14, per Football Outsiders.
And on offense, the running back trio of Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis combined to gain 156 yards on 33 carries. Wilson also scrambled for 61 yards, breaking off a 40-yard run late in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks marched down the field.
Carson capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run with two minutes, 53 seconds remaining.
Looking at the NFC playoff picture, winning ugly should be Seattle's strategy.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 13 by adopting a physical approach and keeping the Saints offense off the field. Likewise, the Chicago Bears handed the Los Angeles Rams their second loss of the season Sunday after holding Los Angeles to 214 total yards and forcing four turnovers.
The Seahawks don't have the playmakers to keep up with the Rams or Saints in a track meet. But they can make a deep playoff run by using their smashmouth offense and getting timely stops on defense.
Conservative Kirk Cousins Is Sinking Vikings
As good as the Seahawks defense was, the Vikings have no excuse for putting up just 276 total yards. Many of their problems on offense started with Cousins.
Minnesota gave Cousins $84 million guaranteed in the offseason to help make the team a Super Bowl contender. Instead, the Vikings are fighting for their playoff lives and have slipped from fifth to 17th in offensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders.
With his massive contract came a new set of expectations for Cousins. The issue for Minnesota is he's basically the same quarterback he was for the Washington Redskins.
Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN
Some people will stay on the “it’s not all on Kirk Cousins” train. That’s fine. And it’s true. BUT Mike Zimmer went out of his way to tell us that Case Keenum wasn’t legit to set up the acquisition of the $84 million guaranteed for HIS QB. Zimmer deserves the blame. He did this.
Monday night was a perfect example of everything wrong with Cousins.
He has a pair of dynamic playmakers in Diggs and Adam Thielen, yet he was averse to taking any risks down the field. On one of the few occasions when he tested the Seahawks secondary deep, Diggs hauled in an incredible 48-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
This game wasn't a departure from the norm for Cousins either. He's 22nd in yards per attempt (7.11) among qualified quarterbacks.
At some point, Cousins must be willing to take chances in the pocket, because he's otherwise failing to make the most of the tools at his disposal. If he never reaches that point, then it's a big problem for the Vikings because his contract makes him almost impossible to move.
The Seahawks hit the road to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California. The Vikings welcome the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.