Why We Lost - 4 Takeaways From The Seahawks Loss

Posted Nov 17, 2013

Coming off a 34-27 win over the Washington Redskins last week, the Vikings were tasked this week with traveling to Seattle to take on the Seahawks, arguably the best team in the NFL at 9-1 and likely the toughest team to beat in their own building. Seattle entered the game having won 16 straight home games, with their last loss at home coming on Christmas Eve 2011. The streak will continue, as the Vikings battled for three quarters but were eventually overwhelmed in the final period.

The final tally was Seattle 41, Vikings 20. With things looking so tight for so long but then Seattle pulling away so quickly in the 4th quarter, one might ask: “What went wrong?”

Here are a few ideas…

Lost the turnover battle
The Vikings were minus-four in turnover margin, giving the ball away three times on interceptions and once more on a fumble. Compounding things was the fact that the Vikings defense failed to force Seattle to turn the ball over. Turnover issues cropped up immediately for the Vikings, with quarterback Christian Ponder losing a fumble on the game’s first possession. The three other Vikings turnovers all came in the 4th quarter and were the root of the Vikings meltdown, as the game went from a tightly-contested 11-point affair to a blowout in a matter of moments. Christian Ponder threw interceptions on consecutive series, with the second going back for a touchdown, and then Matt Cassel came on to replace Ponder and he threw an interception on his first series, too.

Seattle capitalized on the turnovers, scoring two touchdowns and two field goals off the four takeaways. When the 4th quarter began, Seattle was clinging to a 24-13 lead. With 10:14 to play in the 4th quarter, Seattle had stretched its lead to 41-13 with 17 points off the final three turnovers.

Gave up too many explosive plays
There is most certainly a time and place for methodical drives that chew up yardage and burn clock, but it seems the best offenses are those that can explode at a moment’s notice. Seattle’s offense was the latter on Sunday. The Seahawks first two possessions totaled three yards on eight plays, but the third possession featured a 44-yard reception by Doug Baldwin and then a 27-yard catch by Ricardo Lockette, which setup Marshawn Lynch’s first of three touchdowns on the day. The Seahawks had more explosive plays on their next drive, with Lynch ripping off a 23-yard run, Percy Harvin hauling in a 17-yard reception and Zach Miller getting downfield for a 34-yard grab. It all led to another Seahawks touchdown. Seattle’s final play of the first half was a 19-yard explosive pass from Russell Wilson to Baldwin, which staked the Seahawks to a 24-13 halftime lead and, as it would turn out, all the scoring they would need for the night.

The point is, Seattle’s offense was explosive on the night. The Seahawks four offensive touchdowns came on series that consisted of four, nine, five and two plays. One may think high-scoring offenses go on long, time-consuming drives. Often times, though, it’s quite the opposite, and it was on Sunday for the Seahawks.

Didn’t execute at the end of the 1st half
A turning point in the ballgame was the end of the first half, and it was Seattle who executed better and gained an advantage because of it. The Vikings overcame their early turnover and were giving the Seahawks all they could handle through the first 20 minutes of the game. Trailing 17-10 with 6:26 to play in the 2nd quarter, the Vikings embarked on an 11-play, 44-yard drive that resulted in a 45-yard Blair Walsh field goal. But the problem was that the Vikings left too much time on the clock for Seattle.

The mistake came on third down, with the Vikings looking at a to-go distance of 16 yards with 59 seconds on the clock. The result of the third-down play was a one-yard completion to Joe Webb, with Webb stepping out of bounds to conclude the play, stopping the clock at :52. Had Webb stayed in bounds or had Ponder slid in bounds, either the clock would’ve gone down to nearly 12 seconds before the Vikings kicked a field or Seattle would’ve been forced to call a timeout. Instead, the Vikings kicked their field goal and then kicked off to Percy Harvin, who returned the kick 58 yards to the Minnesota 46. That setup Wilson and Co. to take the field, gain 17 yards on the first two plays and use their two remaining timeouts to stop the clock after each play, and then hit paydirt on Baldwin’s 19-yard grab with just 16 seconds to play in the half.

One can only wonder how the game would’ve transpired differently had the Vikings kicked the 45-yard field goal and gone to halftime trailing 17-13 rather than 24-13.

Couldn’t break off a long run, explode in the passing game enough
Give the Vikings running game credit for battling a tough Seahawks defense all night and grinding out 132 rushing yards on 33 attempts, with Adrian Peterson going for 65 yards on 21 carries and Toby Gerhart topping that with 67 yards on seven carries. Unfortunately, the Vikings just couldn’t get an explosive run of any consequence, with Peterson’s long run being just 13 yards and with the reigning MVP failing to reach the end zone in a game for the first time since October 21. Of Peterson’s 21 attempts, only six netted five-plus yards and 10 were for two yards or less. That’s not a typical Peterson game, and the lack of explosive runs made it much more difficult for the Vikings to drive the ball.

The Vikings had similar problems being explosive in the passing game, with Ponder’s long completion being a 38-yarder to Jarius Wright for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Ponder found John Carlson for a couple of explosive receptions, too, but it just wasn’t frequent enough to force Seattle away from its crowd-the-box defensive strategy.