Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer figured it made sense to give the Seattle Seahawks the ball down by five late in the fourth quarter in their Week 5 “Sunday Night Football” matchup. Leading NFL MVP candidate Russell Wilson made Minnesota pay, driving the ball down the field 94 yards for the win.
Prior to that, the one-win Vikings had shown out pretty well in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, an uncharacteristic Wilson interception seemed to seal the outcome of this game.
It was not to be. Wilson came up huge. One big coaching blunder from Zimmer doomed his team. Kirk Cousins struggled with turnovers, again. In the end, it led to a 27-26 Seahawks victory. Here are the biggest winners and losers from this “Sunday Night Football” game.
Winner: Vikings running backs show up in a big way
Heading into Sunday night’s game, Seattle had yielded just 3.4 yards per rush this season and ranked second in the NFL in run defense. A lot of that had to do with opposing teams having to play from behind. This was not the case as Minnesota came to play early and often in the Pacific Northwest on “Sunday Night Football.”
Even with Dalvin Cook hobbled by a groin injury, Minnesota’s running backs stepped it up in a big way. Cook went for 65 yards on 17 attempts, including a touchdown. Backup running back Alexander Mattison tallied a 112 yards while averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. That helped Minnesota create the necessary balance with a still mistake-prone Kirk Cousins under center. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t prove to be enough.
Loser: Kirk Cousins’ turnover-prone ways continue
Cousins entered Week 5 having thrown as many interceptions (six) in four games as he did all of last season. These mistakes had the Vikings at 1-3 and on the verge of irrelevance in the NFC Playoff race. After a relatively clean first half that saw Minnesota take a 13-0 lead, the bad Kirk Cousins was back up to his old tricks.
With the Vikings up 13-7 midway through the third quarter, Cousins lost a fumble on a strip sack. Seattle ultimately scored on the following possession. Then, on the very next Vikings offensive play, Cousins threw an interception into the hands of K.J. Wright. You guessed it, Seattle would go on to score another touchdown on its next drive to take a 21-13 lead. Two mistakes. Fourteen points. A 1-4 record on the season. Cousins is to blame. Period.
Winner Russell Wilson for MVP
The leading MVP candidate was actually a perfect 12-of-12 passing at one point Sunday evening. It just continued a dominating early-season run for Wilson. While he did not put up huge numbers during that span, Wilson was making the right play at the right time against a Vikings defense that came to play. This changed with Seattle down five late in the fourth quarter.
As we might expect, Wilson put on his MVP hat later in the fourth quarter with Seattle needing to drive 94 yards for a touchdown. The Seahawks faced a fourth and long. Wilson hit D.K. Metcalf on a 39-yard pass to set the team up. On another fourth down inside Minnesota’s 10 with the game on the line, the two connected for another score. Yet another game-winning drive from Wilson. It now has Seattle at 5-0 on the season. For his part, Wilson has accounted for 19 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games. That seems pretty good.
Winner: Linebacker play for the Seahawks
This isn’t previous iterations of Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. If the team is going to win a Super Bowl, it will be all about Russell Wilson and the offense. Simply put, Seattle lacks talent in the defensive front and in the secondary. However, it still has two elite play makers at linebacker in that of K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner.
We already focused on Wright’s big third-quarter interception that helped the Seahawks expand on a one-point lead. He played well. However, Wagner was all over the field throughout the game. Going sideline-to-sideline, he tallied 14 tackles (five solo). It helped the Seahawks make up for a questionable run defense in this one. These two will need to continue showing out.
Winner: Another huge game from Adam Thielen
The past couple weeks saw Minnesota rely a great deal on rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The first-round pick was held in check Sunday night, catching just three passes for 23 yards. With Cousins still struggling in this one, Thielen figured it was time to step up in a big way.
Coming off a 114-yard game against the Texans last week, the small-school product tallied nine receptions for 80 yards on 13 targets. That included two big-time touchdowns.
Given what we saw from both Cook and Mattison Sunday night, it seems like the Vikings’ offense is primed to break out. If Thielen continues to play at this level, that’s going to happen sooner rather than later. It must happen with the team now at 1-4.
Loser: Mike Zimmer blows easy decision late in the fourth
Minnesota found itself up 26-21 late in the fourth quarter and with the ball at Seattle’s six-yard line. It was facing a decision. Go for it on fourth-and-one to end the game or kick the field goal for an eight-point lead. Rather than forcing the Seahawks to get a touchdown and two-point conversion, Minnesota went for it. The play was a miserable failure, giving Seattle a ton of time for the game-winning drive.
As most of you already know, MVP candidate Russell Wilson drove the ball down the field 94 yards culminating in this six-yard touchdown to D.K. Metcalf.
I understand that there’s Monday morning quarterbacking involved in question a decision. However, the Vikings’ unwillingness to take an eight-point lead cost them big time here. That’s on Zimmer.
Winner: D.K. Metcalf is a bad, bad man
Anyone who thought Metcalf didn’t look like a legit No. 1 receiver during his days with Mississippi is now looking pretty darn foolish. The second-year receiver entered Sunday night having put up 16 receptions for 403 yards in four games. He added to that in a big way with a dominating second-half performance.
This catch set up what would ultimately be the game-winning six-yard score from Wilson. All said, Metcalf caught 6-of-11 targets for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He’s going to be a problem for opposing defenses moving forward. The Vikings found that out first-hand Sunday night.