It took all night, through the rain and the Seahawks’ start to the game that was nastier than the weather.
But as it often does for Seattle, the game came down to Russell Wilson.
And Wilson won. Again.
Wilson led a stunning, 94-yard drive in the final 1:57 of the game. He completed passes to DK Metcalf on fourth down twice, the second time from the 6-yard line. Metcalf ran across the middle of the end zone, dived away from Minnesota’s Mike Hughes’ blanket coverage and held onto Wilson’s laser-beam throw before it hit the ground.
Metcalf’s catch with 15 seconds left gave Seattle a zany (as usual) 27-26 victory over some stunned Vikings at empty CenturyLink Field.
“I have a regret. I have a MAJOR regret,” coach Pete Carroll said, shaking his head. “That the 12s weren’t here to be able to enjoy this one. …
“Because you guys never would have gone home tonight.”
Wilson completed 20 of 32 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, to leave him with 19 through five games, the second most to begin a season in NFL history. Two of those TDs Sunday night went to Metcalf. The league’s co-leader in yards receiving coming in had six catches, 93 yards.
“I feel like Sue Bird. In the clutch!” Wilson said about 45 minutes after the game.
He was cackling, having worn the gold game jersey of the four-time WNBA champion and Seattle Storm legend into the stadium before and then out of the stadium after Sunday night’s latest, epic game.
“I just tried to zoom it in there. Unbelievable catch. Unbelievable play,” Wilson said.
“It was a special time, a special moment right there.”
That’s what Wilson and Metcalf working out together in 102-degree heat during a pandemic for a month in Mexico this offseason yields.
“It felt like ol’ Cabo,” Wilson said.
“With the quarterback that we have, there is no doubt in our minds that we aren’t going down here to score,” Metcalf said.
As tight end Will Dissly, whose touchdown in the third quarter began Seattle’s comeback from a flat-lining first half, said: “We know that guy at quarterback can make anything possible.”
“One thing 3 always says is: ‘Believe.”
Dissly said Seahawks teammates told each other as Wilson was taking the field for the final drive, down by five points with 1:57 to go: “We got ‘em right where we want ‘em.”
Benson Mayowa ended the game by hitting Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins on his desperate, final throw to force a game-ending fumble. It was the defensive end’s third mammoth play of the final 2 minutes of his (latest) wild one.
When it ended, the roars of celebrating Seahawks could be heard throughout the empty stadium from the field to the press box, two levels above. Then they all ran onto the field in their special, neon-green jerseys like a bunch of Grinches.
But only the Vikings (1-4) were sour.
Minnesota withstood a three-touchdown flurry by the Seahawks and re-took the lead with 7 minutes left. Then Mayowa ran across the field to knock down Vikings receiver Adam Theilen a yard short of the line to gain on a third-down end-around run. Benson then blew up a fourth-down run by the Vikings’ Alexander Mattison at the Seahawks 5-yard line with 1:57 left and Seattle down 26-21.
Then Wilson embarked on his latest drive to his NFL-best 34th comeback victory in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2012.
Carroll said that alone shows the power of Wilson’s “character.”
“I don’t know how anybody can be better than what he continues to show us,” Carroll said of his franchise quarterback.
Wilson scrambled for 18 yards to begin his final march. Three incomplete passes later it was fourth and 10. Wilson lofted basically a jump ball to DK Metcalf deep down the left sideline. Vikings rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler basically let Metcalf jump to the ball uncontested for a 39-yard gain, to the Vikings 38.
A Wilson scramble, escape from a sack and throw for 17 yards to Tyler Lockett on an improvisational route got Seattle to the 21.
Then it appeared Metcalf (six catches, 93 yards) had a second touchdown catch of the night. But as he was catching Wilson’s pass at the goal line he lost the ball. Incomplete.
Fourth and goal, from the 6. Seattle called its last time out. Then it employed a double-eagle-type formation, with two receivers tight on each edge, one on each wing off the line. Metcalf, who had caught a touchdown pass on another brilliant catch down the seam earlier, ran from left to right across the middle of the end zone. Wilson, who was sacked four times in Seattle’s dreadful first half, had time on this throw to wait for Metcalf to cross all the way to the right side of the field.
Once the ball arrived, the 22-year-old would not let go.
And the Seahawks would not lose. Again.
“The great ones want the ball in big situations,” Metcalf, five games into his second NFL season, said.
“I want to be considered one of the greatest.”
The Seahawks looked beaten, for the first time this season. The Vikings steamrolled them in the first half, but missed multiple opportunities for potential game-breaking scores. It remained “only” a 13-0 game into the third quarter.
Then, like autumn lightning on a rainy fall night in SoDo, the Seahawks struck. Decisively.
Three touchdowns in 113 seconds of the third quarter gave Seattle an unlikely lead.
But Minnesota scored the game’s next 13 points, to re-take the lead 26-21 on Adam Thielen’s 6-yard touchdown catch against Seattle’s blown coverage outside midway through the fourth quarter. That ended a 15-play, 97-yard drive for the Vikings, after a 17-play drive to a field goal earlier.
But Wilson had the last chance.
That is, more often than anyone in the NFL the last eight years, means wins for Seattle.
Dissly began Seattle’s remarkable flurry with his first touchdown since his second consecutive season-ending injury, a torn Achilles tendon during a game in Cleveland almost a year to the day. Dissly ran past a Vikings linebacker down the left sideline, and Wilson’s pass got to him in stride for a 19-yard touchdown on Seattle’s second drive after halftime.
The Seahawks trailed only 13-7.
As he came to the sideline following his touchdown, Dissly got mauled by teammate Shaquem Griffin. Fellow tight ends Luke Willson arm-locked him then bear-hugged Dissly, a native Montanan. Jacob Hollister about tackled Dissly in front of the bench, twice.
They knew how depressed and discouraged Dissly had been in the weeks and months following his Achilles tear. They knew that score meant more than just a closer game.
But it was that.
As Carroll said: “The avalanche just hit.”
On Minnesota’s ensuing possession, Damontre Moore, a defensive end the Seahawks signed off his couch last month, hit Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins as he was trying to throw. Officials on the field initially ruled an incomplete pass, because the ball catapulted forward 10 yards. But Moore got the ball out before Cousins’ arm came forward to throw. A replay review awarded the ball to Seattle on Wright’s alert recovery at the Vikings 15-yard line—though had officials called it correctly on the field Wright would have been allowed his return of the fumble to the end zone.
Two plays later, Wilson fired a dart that took Metcalf away from tight coverage across the goal line. Metcalf leaped and stretched his 6-foot-4 body to snare the pass on the fingers, another brilliant grab from the league’s co-leader in yards receiving entering Sunday. Suddenly, Seattle led 14-13.
From the press box in the empty (because of COVID-19) stadium, one could hear Seahawks teammates’ and coaches’ “WHOOOOs!” at Metcalf’s latest eye-popping catch and score.
The Seahawks weren’t done.
On the first play after the go-ahead touchdown, Wright lined up tight on the defense’s left end at strongside, on-the-ball linebacker. The 10-year veteran flowed to his right with Cousins’ play-action fake. Then Wright back-pedaled, deeply, all the way to the right sideline. It was a three-in-one read for the longest-tenured Seahawk. Cousins never expected Wright in the path of his pass outside intended for wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
The 31-year-old Wright reached up with his extended, right hand and intercepted Cousins’ pass. He returned it to the Minnesota 29.
Chris Carson then bulled through Minnesota’s five-time Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith on a relentless, 29-yard touchdown run.
That’s how the Seahawks went from down 13-0 to up 21-13, in 1:53.
And you thought the Seahawks’ issues on defense were against the pass.
The Minnesota Vikings and NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook come to CenturyLink Field Sunday night. And then Cook’s backup showed how complete Seattle’s breakdowns on defense are this season.
Mattison ran for 112 yards on 20 carries, most of those after Cook left with a groin injury early in the second half. It came against what had been the NFL’s third-ranked, but wholly untested, rushing defense. Minnesota controlled the entire night, other than the Seahawks’ remarkable three touchdowns in 113 seconds of the third quarter and Seattle’s final offensive drive.
The Seahawks’ defense blew all of that 21-13 lead.
Seattle’s ugly start
The game began with the Vikings doing whatever they wanted to do against the Seahawks’ overrun defense.
Minnesota romped to 217 yards on 41 plays in a first half that was a runaway in every aspect—except, thankfully for Seattle, the score.
The Seahawks’ defense could not get off the field, continuing an early season trend. Minnesota converted had five conversions on 10 third- and fourth-down plays in the half, including 2 for 2 on fourth down.
Cook had 65 yards on 17 carries in the half. That was three more rushes than any running back had against Seattle’s third-ranked, but unproven, run defense entering Sunday.
Meanwhile Seattle’s offense gained just 66 yards and had only 18 plays in the first half. Wilson looked nothing like the early front-runner for the NFL most valuable player award. Minnesota sacked him four times for 27 lost yards. Two of those came when Wilson held onto the ball instead of throwing into tight coverage from a Vikings secondary that had given up huge plays while losing three of its first four games.
The Seahawks had just 13 net passing yards in the half.
The Vikings gained 151 of the game’s first 194 yards of offense.
The only good news through all that for Seattle? It was behind only 13-0 at halftime.