Scratching and clawing their way to victory
In their shocking lime green Color Rush uniforms, the Seattle Seahawks hosted the Minnesota Vikings on “Monday Night Football” to cap off Week 14.
It was an ugly, ugly game. Even some of the big winners were losers. In the end, the Seahawks did enough to prevail on a night where it was all about scratching and clawing your way to the victory.
In the process, Seattle improved to 8-5 on the season and is very much alive in the NFC Playoff race. With the loss, Minnesota dropped to 6-6-1 and appears to be pretty much toast.
These were the biggest winners and losers from the action.
Winner: Seattle’s run game is strong
On a cold night in Seattle, with both teams struggling offensively, it was Seattle’s run game that made the difference.
The Seahawks have been terrific at pounding the rock all year. On Monday night, the big guys up front were moving bodies on a regular basis, opening up running lanes.
Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both had big runs. So did Russell Wilson. In the end, the Seahawks piled up 214 yards and a touchdown on the ground en route to an ugly, but huge win.
Loser: Kirk Cousins was awful and now has dubious record
Heading into this game, Kirk Cousins was 0-6 on “Monday Night Football” throughout his career. As pointed out by Trey Wingo of ESPN, there have only been two other quarterbacks — Joe Namath and Archie Manning — to go 0-6 on Monday nights. No quarterback has ever gone 0-7.
Cousins completed 20-of-33 passes for 208 yards with one late, inconsequential touchdown. Minnesota’s offense didn’t even cross the 50-yard line until late in the third quarter.
The Vikings paid Cousins a ton of guaranteed cash in his historic contract. They did so because they felt like he was the type of quarterback who would get them over the top. Who’d win these big games. So far, he’s fallen well short of the mark.
Winner: Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner were dynamic
Defensive end Frank Clark didn’t put up jaw-dropping stats against Minnesota on Monday night, but his impact was felt from start to finish.
Clark did have a sack, and he hit Kirk Cousins twice. Even when he wasn’t putting the quarterback on his backside, he was chasing him down and creating problems for the Minnesota offense.
Wagner, who’s one of the best all-around linebackers in the league, also had a huge night. He racked up nine tackles, inspired his teammates with some disrespect toward the Vikings and then came up with a huge (albeit illegal) blocked field goal with under six minutes remaining.
Loser: Where art thou, Adam Thielen?
Thielen did eclipse the 100-catch barrier on the season in this game. But that’s where the positives end when discussing his night in Seattle.
The dynamic receiver was almost completely shut down. He wasn’t even targeted once in the first half, and in the end he was held to five catches for 70 yards — this includes a 35-yarder in garbage time — and was pretty much a non-factor in this game.
Winner: Seattle’s secondary was on fire
Minnesota has one of the best 1-2 combos in the league at receiver. Kirk Cousins came into the game averaging over 290 yards per game passing. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs came into Monday night’s game averaging 15 receptions and 167 yards per game, along with 15 touchdowns.
Seattle’s secondary had this passing game on lock down.
We already discussed Thielen’s poor outing. Aside from one monster play by Diggs (48 yard reception) he was also very quiet. Heck, Kyle Rudolph only had two catches for seven yards. It was just a complete shut-down performance from the pass defense of the Seahawks.
Loser: Russell WYD?
Russell Wilson has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year at taking care of the football. He came into Monday night’s game with 29 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
Right at the end of the first half, Wilson threw one of the worst interceptions you’re ever going to see from a pro quarterback. Wilson relied too much on his wheels, got himself into a horrible situation and compounded his mistake with a nauseatingly bad throw that was lucky not to be a pick-six (watch here).
It was a two-fold mistake. He was under pressure, should have realized it and thrown the ball away to give his field-goal unit a chance to put points on the board before halftime. Thankfully it didn’t come back to bite his team.
Winner: George Fant caught a pass!
There was a magical moment in the third quarter when 6-foot-5, 322-pound offensive tackle George Fant lined up as a tight end. And for once, he wasn’t a decoy.
The big man hauled in a pass from Russell Wilson, and he was so excited about it.
So excited he got bit by the old turf monster and took a tumble ahead of the first down marker (watch here). It was a fun moment, but one wonders how far the big man would have rumbled if he had kept his footing.
Loser: Refs were awful
On multiple occasions, affecting both teams, the refs officiating this “Monday Night Football” game were awful.
There was the weird sort-of facemask (grasping the helmet opening) against Bobby Wagner very early that was nothing more than a phantom foul. Then there was the bungled unnecessary roughness call that was first incorrectly called against Minnesota, then incorrectly called on Germaine Ifedi, when it should have been called against Jordan Simmons.
Then in the fourth quarter, Xavier Rhodes was hit with a 35-yard pass interference call on a pass that was well out of bounds and uncatchable. That set up the second field goal for the Seahawks, and it was completely bogus.
Finally, they blew it on the Bobby Wagner block, as he illegally used two hands to vault over the offensive line and get to the ball. Just awful, awful officiating.