When the Vikings entered the locker room at halftime, each side of the ball began plotting out ways they could sustain success in the second half.
Minnesota led by seven and was preparing to receive the kickoff to open the second half, so the offense envisioned a fruitful possession akin to the opening drive of the game.
Defensively, the unit looked to keep the Seahawks offense at bay and build upon strong moments in the opening two quarters.
Then the third quarter began, and things unraveled in a 15-minute span on the way to an eventful 37-30 loss in Seattle.
“In here in the locker room at halftime, you’re looking at it with an opportunity go up 14, possibly 10 if you settle for a field goal there,” said Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. “Regardless, you make it a two-score game.
“We go three-and-out and the next thing you know, it’s a tie game and we turn the ball over, turn the ball over again,” Rudolph added. “We just didn’t execute well enough in the second half.”
Added Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: “I thought the first half, we played well. We didn’t play very well in the second half. Made too many mistakes.”
Minnesota punted on its first possession of the second half, a drive that lasted just 98 seconds. Seattle responded with a swift nine-play, 71-yard drive that evened that game at 17.
But the Vikings hardly had time to grab back the momentum, as Dalvin Cook fumbled on Minnesota’s first play of the ensuing possession. And although the Vikings defense limited the Seahawks to a field goal, Minnesota no longer had the lead — and wouldn’t get it back for the rest of the game.
Trailing for the first time all game, the Vikings sought to put together a scoring drive late in the third quarter. But a false start penalty backed up the offense, which couldn’t convert on an eventual third-and-15 situation.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson soon delivered a strike, throwing a 60-yard touchdown on third-and-5 that put the Seahawks up by double digits as the third quarter mercifully came to a close.
“I’m not going to explain what exactly was supposed to happen,” Zimmer said. “We had a bust in the coverage.”
By the end of the third quarter, the Vikings had allowed 17 unanswered points, been outgained 147-31 and found themselves in a troubling spot at one of the loudest opposing stadiums in the NFL.
Things didn’t get much better to start the fourth quarter, as Kirk Cousins was intercepted on the first play of the final stanza. It ended a streak of 202 consecutive pass attempts without an interception for Cousins, breaking the franchise record set by Warren Moon in 1995.
Seattle promptly scored on a 13-yard pass to double up the Vikings, as Minnesota trailed 34-17 early in the period.
The Vikings showed plenty of heart in the final 13 minutes, as Cousins threw touchdown passes to Laquon Treadwell and Rudolph to bring Minnesota within four points.
But a fourth-and-3 pass was incomplete with just over two minutes remaining as Seattle eventually drained the clock.
The Vikings now sit at 8-4 and are on a short week as the final quarter of the season begins Sunday at home against Detroit.
Minnesota is still in a Wild Card spot with four games to play, but it will need a bounce-back effort after an up-and-down showing in the Emerald City.
Rudolph said he has plenty of faith the Vikings will be able to get it done.
“Get on the plane, forget about this one and get ready [for Detroit],” Rudolph said. “Nothing we can do about this now.
“We missed an opportunity but we’ve got four games left,” Rudolph added. “If we get to 12-4, I think we’ll like where we sit come January. I could see us coming back here in about a month.”