The Vikings carried a 13-point lead into the locker room at halftime on Saturday night in Seattle. And although they had outscored the Seahawks by 13 points through 2 quarters, there was no question the defense was primarily responsible for the advantage.
It was Seattle who made the game’s first big play, about midway through the opening quarter. The Vikings defense had forced a second Seattle punt and CB Marcus Sherels was back to return the kick. He hauled in Jon Ryan’s punt and started making his way upfield. Sherels was eventually tackled after a 16-yard return, but then the ball squirted loose and Seattle picked it up. The call on the field was that Sherels was down by contact and did not fumble, but a challenge by Seattle resulted in the ruling being overturned, which gave the Seahawks possession.
Just four plays later on a 3rd and 7 from Minnesota’s 43, Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson rifled a pass to WR Golden Tate. But Tate was unable to haul in the pass and it deflected off his fingers and up into the air. Sherels was there in coverage and grabbed the deflection. In an instant he had secured the ball and sprinting the other way, leaving no Seahawks offensive player with a chance to catch him. Sherels was too fast and he dashed 64 yards for the TD, more than making up for his fumbled punt return just moments earlier.
The second defensive highlight of the first half was just as dramatic, but it was a bit more drawn out. After Sherels INT return for a TD, Seattle began their next possession on the 27. Jackson led the Seahawks on a march downfield and had his offense with a 1st-and-goal situation from the 2.
On first down, Jackson handed off to RB Justin Forsett on a dive play up the middle, but DE David Akinniyi and DT Letroy Guion were there to stop him from going in. On second down, LB Larry Dean and DL Christian Ballard teamed up to stop Forsett for no gain and then on third down it was DE Adrian Awasom who halted Forsett short of paydirt. Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll decided to go for it on 4th and inches from inside the 1, but great efforts by CB Chris Cook and LB Erin Henderson helped Guion make another stop and the Vikings defense had held Seattle from a TD on 4 straight plays from inside the 2.
Tags: Chris Cook, David Akinniyi, Erin Henderson, Letroy Guion, Marcus Sherels
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While winning games is always nice, teams strive for improvement during the preseason. On Saturday night in Seattle, the Vikings accomplished both objectives. Coming off a 14-3 loss to Tennessee in their preseason opener last week, the Vikings took a step forward this weekend and notched a 20-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
Another outstanding effort from the entire special teams group and a solid performance from the defense anchored the Vikings effort against Seattle. But the improvement made by the Vikings first-team offense should not go unnoticed, especially considering both WR Percy Harvin and TE Visanthe Shiancoe were missing from action.
The Vikings first-team offense didn’t see much of the field in the 1st quarter – they had just two minutes of possession and ran just 3 plays. But a goal line stand by the second-team defense set the stage for Donovan McNabb and Co. to hit their stride for about half the quarter.
Following the goal line stand, the Vikings first-team offense took over 1st and 10 from their own 1-yardline. Despite the fact it’s a preseason game, beginning a drive on your own 1-yardline on the road with the crowd screaming for a safety is not exactly the most comfortable position. But McNabb, a 13-year NFL veteran, handled the situation with poise and guided the offense downfield.
The first play from scrimmage was a 2-yard completion to Adrian Peterson, which gave the offense a little bit more breathing room. The second play from scrimmage was another pass, and McNabb stood tall in the pocket and delivered a 17-yard completion to rookie TE Kyle Rudolph. That got the Vikings out to the 20 and it set up TE Jim Kleinsasser for a 23-yard reception on the next snap. In a matter of moments, McNabb guided the Vikings from the shadow of their own goal post to midfield.
A few Peterson carries left the Vikings with a 2nd and 10 from the Seattle 45, which is when McNabb stood in the pocket again and found WR Michael Jenkins down the left side. Jenkins positioned himself beautifully on the play, as he cut in front of the CB and made a back shoulder grab while falling to the ground. A penalty two plays later eventually stalled the drive and the Vikings settled for a FG.
Yes, the Vikings offense needs to convert those drives with TDs and it was disappointing to see a false start penalty ultimately stall the drive. But given the current circumstances – new QB, new offense, no Harvin or Shiancoe – it was good just to see the Vikings march 81 yards in 13 plays and chew up more than 7 minutes of the game clock. Additionally, we saw a great illustration of a veteran QB guiding the offense through a tough situation – backed up against your own goal line on the road.
As we said after last week’s game against Tennessee, the effort by the offense tonight was acceptable and encouraging. Now, the key is to see improvement this week during practice and a step forward in next weekend’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field.
Tags: Donovan McNabb, Kyle Rudolph, Michael Jenkins
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Preseason game #2 is in the books and we’re now one step closer to the regular season. As it usually does, the preseason has generated mixed results and plenty of reason to be excited for the regular season.
With all that’s happened from training camp through half of the preseason, you must have questions and I know you have opinions.
So let’s hash it all out in the Monday Morning Mailbag.
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