SEATTLE — Don’t let the score fool you, the Vikings defense did all it could to get Minnesota a win Monday night.
The unit shut down Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson through the air and were stout on third down and in the red zone, but the Vikings fell 21-7 on the road to the Seahawks.
“Yeah, I thought we played our rear ends off on defense tonight,” said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. “So yeah, it was discouraging.”
Added Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, who recorded a key sack of Wilson early: “It’s very frustrating. We lost, but there’s nothing we can do about it now but move into the next game.”
Minnesota’s defense allowed just 14 of the 21 points on the scoreboard, as Seattle had a defensive touchdown.
And with three minutes left in regulation, the Vikings had held Seattle to six measly points.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was adamant that Minnesota’s defense played well enough for Minnesota to get a win in a tough environment on the road.
“I think the added piece of the disappointment is when your defense is playing so well,” Cousins said. “Our defense, I feel, the last couple weeks or the last several weeks, really, has played playoff football, high-level football, and put us in a position where we really should and can be in the playoff conversation as a result of the way they’re playing defense.
“You know that if our offense would bring it the way we brought it in some of the earlier weeks of the season, we can be pretty dangerous,” Cousins added. “Unfortunately we haven’t really put the whole complementary football together enough this season to be really be the team we know we’re capable of. That’ll be the challenge these last three weeks.”
Minnesota’s offense had 276 yards of offense but was held to 110 yards through three quarters and didn’t score until there were 70 seconds remaining.
The Vikings defense limited Seattle to just two conversions on 10 third-down tries, and Seattle was just one of four in red-zone efficiency.
Minnesota allowed 274 total yards of offense to Seahawks, which was Seattle’s lowest output of the season.
The Vikings surrendered 214 of those yards on the ground on 42 attempts, which made it appear that Seattle dominated on the ground.
But Wilson had a 40-yard scramble late in the game, and Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny had a 17-yard run on a broken play in the second quarter that ballooned Seattle’s stats on the ground.
While the numbers may look inflated, the Vikings defense felt they did well against the NFL’s top rushing attack.
“I know it was a lot of yards, but the quarterback had 60 or something,” Zimmer said. “The one runner we had bottled up, and he ran back the other way, and that was probably a 20- or 30-yard run.
“Early in the game, I didn’t think we, you know, they had a lot of second-and-5s. After halftime, it was second-and-8s, second-and-9s. So honestly, I didn’t think we played the run that bad,” Zimmer added. “They’re a good running football team, and [Chris Carson is] a good, hard-running back. So if you don’t get in there and get physical with him, they’re going to gain some yards.”
Added Weatherly: “I mean, on paper that’s what it is. But if you look at two key run plays … when (Penny) reversed the ball on that toss on the outside stretch, and then Russell got out of the pocket and ran … subtract those yards, and I thought those were your true [yards] when they wanted to run the ball. Regardless, we can’t give up that many rushing yards.”
The Vikings trailed 3-0 at the half but secured their lone turnover when linebacker Eric Kendricks intercepted Wilson on the penultimate play of the second quarter.
But with a clear field in front of him, Kendricks caught the ball but couldn’t keep his balance.
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Did he think he should have scored on an 86-yard interception return?
“Absolutely. I feel like I should have scored,” Kendricks said. “I want to be great, and if I want to be one of the great linebackers in this league, then I have to score there.”
“I just bobbled it. Maybe I was running before I caught it,” Kendricks added. “I was happy we stopped that play. But I feel like if I score on that play then we get a little more momentum going into the half. That’s my fault.”
Wilson completed just 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards and had a passer rating of 37.9. He had 61 yards rushing.
The Vikings now sit at 6-6-1 on the season as they head home to face Miami in Week 15 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Minnesota would still be the No. 6 seed in the Wild Card race if the season ended today, but the Vikings know there is still plenty of work to be done over the final three weeks of the 2018 season.
“Looking at where we are now, we still have a chance to accomplish the things we want to accomplish,” said safety Anthony Harris. “It’s just all about coming together and pushing through and finding a way to come out with a W.
“We’re all one team and all under one roof,” Harris added. “There might be frustration sometimes, but at the end of the day, we all look at each other as brothers, and we’re all trying to accomplish one goal. The only way we can do that is to help each other get better each week.”
Added Weatherly: “It’s time to learn from it and then forget about it as quickly as possible so you can go into the next week. We need to have two wins in these last three games to control our destiny.”