The red-hot Seattle Seahawks are hitting their stride with eyes on a division title entering the season's stretch run.
Seattle won its fifth game in a row and improved to 10-2 with a 37-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Monday's showdown between playoff contenders at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers atop the NFC West standings after Russell Wilson and a strong rushing attack led the way in the latest effort.
As for the Vikings, their two-game winning streak came to an end. They are 8-4 on the campaign and one game behind the 9-3 Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.
Notable Fantasy Stats
- SEA QB Russell Wilson: 21-of-31 passing for 240 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
- SEA RB Chris Carson: 23 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown
- SEA RB Rashaad Penny: 15 carries for 74 yards and one touchdown; four catches for 33 yards and one touchdown
- SEA WR David Moore: two catches for 65 yards and one touchdown
- MIN QB Kirk Cousins: 22-of-38 passing for 276 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
- MIN RB Dalvin Cook: nine carries for 29 yards and one touchdown; three catches for 35 yards
- MIN WR Laquon Treadwell: one catch for 58 yards and one touchdown
Seahawks' Balanced Offense Rediscovers Form
Wilson has played like an MVP candidate for much of the year, but he had just two touchdown passes and two interceptions in his previous two games entering Monday's contest. The offense as a whole managed just 17 points last time out, although the windy conditions in Philadelphia were partially to blame.
It appeared as if the Seahawks were in for another day of offensive issues when Wilson threw a pick-six to Anthony Harris in the second quarter. Wilson went to bat it down after the pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage, only for it to fall right into Harris' hands.
It wasn't a sign of things to come after all.
Seattle pounded Minnesota with a strong rushing attack throughout the game, turning to the combination of power and speed that Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny brought to the table. They combined for three total touchdowns, and Penny's first came after Carson's explosive run put the home team in scoring position.
The Carson-Penny tandem forced additional defenders closer to the line of scrimmage, and Wilson made the Vikings pay with a beautifully placed deep ball for a 60-yard score to David Moore that opened a two-score lead.
The long connection, along with Penny blowing past multiple defenders on a dump pass, was part of four straight scoring drives to start the second half after Seattle scored just 10 points in the first half. Fittingly, Carson helped put the game away with powerful between-the-tackles runs after the Vikings turned it over on downs in the final minutes.
Perhaps the scariest thing for the rest of the NFC is the fact Tyler Lockett, the team's leading receiver, was a nonfactor while the offense still lit up the scoreboard against a solid defense. If Carson and Penny continue churning out yards with Wilson directing the show, the Lombardi Trophy is Seattle's ceiling.
Kirk Cousins Provides Silver Lining Even in Defeat
Monday could have been an absolute disaster for the Vikings.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes temporarily exited with a back injury and struggled when he returned. Offensive tackle Riley Reiff suffered a concussion. Running back Dalvin Cook suffered a shoulder injury on the same play he lost a fumble. Even wide receiver Stefon Diggs was temporarily down on the play but remained in the game.
Things got worse when Kirk Cousins threw an interception to Tre Flowers that led to a Seattle touchdown and 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
To his credit, the Michigan State product responded with touchdown passes to Laquon Treadwell and Kyle Rudolph to pull within four and gave his team a chance to win at the end. While the Vikings failed to complete their comeback, it was a gutsy performance in one of the league's most daunting environments.
The narrative surrounding Minnesota entering the season was that Cousins would hold it back. After all, its defense entered play sixth in the league in points allowed per game, and the combination of Cook, Diggs and Adam Thielen—when healthy—gives the offense plenty of playmakers.
Cousins' prime-time record took another hit, but he has largely excelled this season with 23 touchdown passes to just four interceptions and nine consecutive games with at least 220 passing yards.
He couldn't fully overcome his team's early hole, the injuries or the defensive struggles on the other side, but he also looked like someone who won't back down from elite competition come January. That's a solid silver lining for now.
Both teams face divisional foes in Week 14. Minnesota hosts the Detroit Lions, while the Seahawks are at the Los Angeles Rams.