The Vikings didn't win on Monday night in Seattle, but their defense wasn't the reason Minnesota dropped to 6-6-1 on the season.
The Vikings put forth one of their best defensive efforts of the season, limiting Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to the lowest passing total of his career and keeping the Seahawks at bay on third down.
Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated wrote that if the Vikings go on to make the playoffs — and they are currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC — that Minnesota should rely on that unit to carry them in the postseason.
Orr wrote that both the Vikings and Seahawks showed Monday night that defense is the strength of each team.
While the game featured all the trappings of an offensive boon taking place around the league (both teams have either been funneling collegiate concepts into their system for years, or are making up for it of late), two teams built around a stout, physical defense thudded into one another for the better part of 60 minutes. The closest thing we had to a touchdown in the first half was negated by a Vikings pass rush, which forced a hurried Russell Wilson to float a horrendous interception in front of the goal line.
Orr added that while offenses have gained lots of attention this season for trick plays, snazzy schemes and lots of points, defense could still carry the way for the Vikings and other teams come January.
Just remember that this is good. It's necessary. With both teams still on track to find the postseason, the NFL needs defensive headhunters to cloud the narrative. Should the Vikings clinch the final Wild Card spot in the NFC, there will be four fascinating teams led by their defense — Minnesota, Seattle, Dallas and Chicago — swimming in the water around the Rams and Saints.
It may have been the grand design for us to become smitten — totally bulled over — by the gaudy offensive numbers. That mission has been accomplished. But it doesn't mean we wouldn't like to see a high-scoring team sweat it out with everything on the line.
The Vikings rank fifth with 323.6 yards allowed per game and are 11th at 22.4 points per game allowed.
Coller: Vikings must find a way to beat double teams of Thielen and Diggs
Adam Thielen didn't have a catch in the first half Monday against Seattle and finished with five receptions for 70 yards, while Stefon Diggs had two receptions in each half and totaled 76 yards.
The pair of Vikings wide receivers were the target of the Seahawks secondary for most of the night. Seattle double-teamed — and even deployed a triple-team of Diggs — to take away Kirk Cousins' top options.
Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com wrote that teams have been shifting all of their attention to Thielen and Diggs in recent weeks, and that Minnesota must adjust in order to find more success on offense.
The name of the game in the NFL is adjustments. It's quite clear that opposing teams have made significant adjustments to the way they guard receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in key situations against the Minnesota Vikings.
Thielen was shutout of targets in the first half of Monday night's 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and Thielen and Diggs combined for just nine receptions.
The Vikings especially struggled on third downs going 2-for-10, and they failed to produce points in the red zone while trailing 6-0 early in the fourth.
Running back Dalvin Cook had five receptions and a touchdown against Seattle, while wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had three catches for 16 yards. Tight end Kyle Rudolph had two receptions for seven yards.
Without a sure fire No. 3 option at wide receiver, the Vikings will have to adjust to the adjustments as they play the final three games of the season against Miami, Detroit and Chicago. Otherwise it appears the opposing defenses will continue to use the double-team model, which started against the Jets earlier this season, and slow down Cousins in key spots.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Seahawks under the lights for Monday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.