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5 Vikings-Seahawks Storylines: Critical Juncture & Bounce-Back Mentality

EAGAN, Minn. — To say this one has been anticipated is quite the understatement.

Vikings fans will be able to attend a regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time in 637 days when Seattle (1-1) visits Minnesota (0-2) at 3:25 p.m. (CT) Sunday.

If that sounds like a long time, remember — as if you've forgotten — that it will be the first time in 2,121 days for the Seahawks to play a regular-season game in Minnesota.

That last encounter occurred at the University of Minnesota and was a 38-7 win for Seattle. Even worse was the 10-9 edging in the playoffs a month later at the same spot. Those two contests are part of a seven-game win streak by Seattle.

Vikings uniform combination: Purple jerseys and white pants

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Seahawks.

Matchup to watch: Vikings running game vs. Seahawks run defense

Dalvin Cook sprung loose for 11 yards on the opening play of Minnesota's Week 2 game at Arizona. A play-action pass for a 64-yard touchdown to K.J. Osborn followed.

Cook turned in an impressive day with 22 rushes for 131 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and added two catches for 17 yards, despite going in and out of the game with an injury. Alexander Mattison added three carries for 11 yards and caught a screen pass that gained 17.

In last season's matchup in Seattle, the Vikings rushed 41 times for 201 yards.

Dalvin Cook rushed 17 times for 65 yards in the first half, helping the Vikings keep the ball for 20:16, but he was injured early in the third quarter.

Mattison relieved him the rest of the way and rushed 18 times for 99 of his career-best 112 yards. It was nearly enough before Russell Wilson worked some late-game magic after a failed fourth-and-1 by Minnesota.

It's a small sample size so far in 2021, but Seattle ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (162.5).

Despite still boasting Bobby Wagner and his NFL-best 33 tackles, the Seahawks allowed 147 rushing yards and three scores in the second half/overtime to Derrick Henry last week. After limiting Henry to 2.7 yards per carry in the first half, the two-time rushing champ averaged 6.7 per carry after halftime.

Look for the Vikings to try to build on their ground game that performed well in Week 2.

Here are five Vikings-Seahawks storylines to follow in Week 3.

1. Critical juncture

The Vikings must improve their showings at the end of the first half. Two weeks in a row, Minnesota has allowed two scoring drives by opponents (14 points at Cincinnati and 10 at Arizona) inside the 2-minute warning before halftime.

Seattle has scored touchdowns inside the final minute of each first half it has played so far.

Russell Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett for a 69-yard score at Indianapolis in Week 1 for a 21-10 lead at the break. Last week, Chris Carson punched the ball in on a 1-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive that lasted just 48 seconds.

2. Contain game

The Vikings deployed a strategy of trying to keep Kyler Murray in the pocket last week, and that proved to be a daunting task. It was an approach that Minnesota has deployed under Head Coach Mike Zimmer when facing Wilson, who is 7-0 against Minnesota all-time.

Those victories helped Wilson total 107 wins (including nine in playoff games) in his first nine seasons, an NFL record.

The Vikings have had Wilson in the grasp numerous times in the past, only to witness escape acts.

3. Cousins on multiple streaks

Kirk Cousins turned in one of the best games of his career on Sunday. The impact was beyond the stat line of 244 yards, three scores and a passer rating of 122.4. He played fast, made good, quick decisions, worked with Minnesota's protection and was opportunistic on a career-long 29-yard scramble.

He is entering this week with a streak of 16 consecutive games with a passer rating of 90 or higher, which ranks second in NFL history to Peyton Manning (23).

Perhaps more importantly, Cousins has a streak of 162 consecutive attempts without an interception that started Dec. 25, 2020. That is tied with Randall Cunningham for third in Vikings history and trails 193 by Warren Moon and 201 by Cousins (Oct. 13 to Dec. 2, 2019).

Protecting the ball is always key against a team that built so much of its recent success on ball-hawking.

4. Can takeaways trend continue?

The Vikings needed two games to record their first return touchdown of 2021.

Nick Vigil returned an interception 38 yards for his first career score, a welcome sight for a Vikings squad that went all of 2020 without a return touchdown.

Fellow newcomer Xavier Woods also nabbed his first pick as a Viking. Turnovers can come in bunches and usually correlate with winning football.

5. Bounce-back mentality

Zimmer has frequently mentioned how important it is to get back up off the mat.

That will be the case for kicker Greg Joseph, who fully owned his missed 37-yard attempt on Monday and described how it will make him more determined. Teammates made sure to let Joseph know they supported him and were appreciative of his makes so far this season that include a pair of 52-yarders against the Cardinals.

The conviction that Joseph relayed is what Minnesota needs across the roster to help the team climb out of its second consecutive 0-2 start.