The Vikings knew the importance of limiting the NFL's leading receiver Julio Jones in Atlanta and proceeded to do so by dictating the flow of the game, forcing turnovers and frequently blanketing him with Xavier Rhodes.
The result was containing Jones to five catches for 56 yards, which was well-below the 8.9 receptions and 118.9 yards the fifth-year receiver averaged in his first 10 games this season and a 20-10 victory.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the relative shutdown was the biggest thing the Vikings defense did to secure their fourth straight road win for the first time since 1998.
"The biggest thing that we did defensively is we executed the game plan of trying to take care of Julio Jones," Zimmer said. "I thought we did that well and he was obviously part of it because he was playing in the back end, so I think he did a good job."
With Seattle (6-5) visiting Minnesota (8-3) Sunday, the top threat for the Vikings defense will be Seahawks QB Russell Wilson's ability to escape pressure and buy time for receivers to break free. Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall joined "Voice of the Vikings" to break down this threat in the Menard's Film Room segment of this week's episode of Vikings GamePlan.
One play picked to illustrate this challenge occurred when Seattle visited Cincinnati. It starts with the line of scrimmage at the 50. Tyler Lockett is on the left of the formation, outside the numbers. Wilson takes the snap out of the shotgun, and the Bengals rush four. Wilson scrambles to his right, and Lockett continues crossing the field at the 35 before firing to the rookie receiver for a catch at the 31-yard line.
"I don't care who you have back there defending receivers, they're going to get open if Russell Wilson can buy this kind of time," Wobschall said. The escapability is a function of the mobility and speed that Wilson has. Former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell capitalizes on that in the same role with Seattle. The Seahawks also purposefully move around the 5-foot-11 Wilson to help him clear the tall trees along the line of scrimmage.
Zimmer was asked Friday about Wilson's abilities.
"Obviously the scrambling ability and mobility he has in and out of the pocket, the vision that he has is really good," Zimmer said Friday. "He throws the deep ball really well. You've got to be careful because they run a lot of boots and slip it out the backside, but I think he's getting the ball out quicker now and all those things. He's doing a really good job."
Then again, there's always a threat of designed runs or Wilson hanging onto the ball when he does leave the pocket.
Wilson has 77 rush attempts for 399 yards (5.2 per carry). The carries are the second-most for any NFL quarterback behind Carolina's Cam Newton (98 for 427 yards).
View photos of some of the key contributors on the Seattle Seahawks roster in preparation for Sunday's Wild Card playoff game.