BY Art Thiel 06:03PM 12/06/2015

Thiel: Wilson: Seahawks ‘can’t play much better’

After giving the Vikings the third-worst home beating in franchise history, the Seahawks have cleared a direct path to the playoffs through December, their annual party month.

The Seahawks offense had three touchdown drives of 80 or more yards against the Vikings. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

In another time, it might have been called an acid flashback. Sunday in Minneapolis, the Seahawks saw their 2013 season return in all its psychedelic glory. But the only people who had minds altered were the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings — and perhaps many others around the NFL looking at potential postseason matchups.

Football bad-assery has returned to the Northwest.

What does that mean? Let Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher, explain it after the 38-7 destruction: “They were more aggressive, more physical, and they out-coached us as well.”

Sounds like the team the football world has come to know in December — the Seahawks are 18-7 under coach Pete Carroll after Dec. 1. The defeat was the Vikings’ most lopsided at home since a 34-3 defeat by Chicago in 1984, and third-worst in team history.

The Seahawks did Sunday what they often did in the 2013 season, which ended in a Super Bowl triumph — go on the road and dominate a good opponent in all phases.

“As a group, I don’t think we can play too much better,” said QB Russell Wilson, a statement that was as accurate as it was exuberant. The Seahawks, who had three TD drives of 80 or more yards, outgained the Vikings 433 yards to 125, converted 10 of 14 third and fourth downs (the Vikings were two of 11),  had good special-teams returns and held Peterson to 18 yards.

All of this mayhem was committed without two of the three best offensive players on the team — RB Marshawn Lynch and TE Jimmy Graham. Not needed.

Over the past three games, the Seahawks, owing largely to an offensive line that has grown into its job of protecting Wilson, have outscored opponents by a combined 104-50. The defense, battered a week earlier by 480 passing yards and 30 points in a home win over the Steelers, responded with a shutout, the scoreboard zero marred only by a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson.

“Really a complete victory, really thrilled with that,” Carroll said. “We played well from start to finish.

“I don’t know how we could have expected to hold them down like that. And we were able to run it down their throats. It was a huge day for us.”

The outcome wasn’t that surprising. The Seahawks under Carroll almost always have been firm against the run. As the Steelers game showed, they are much more vulnerable to a short passing game. But second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater is no Ben Roethlisberger, nor Carson Palmer.

The Seahawks ganged up on Peterson and dared Bridgewater to throw. He couldn’t handle it, completing only one pass of more than 18 yards and finishing with 118 yards overall on 17 of 28 passing.

The Seahawks under Carroll have met the Vikings three times (2012, 2013 and 2015) with Peterson in the backfield, and won all three by a combined score of 109-47.  Besides one breakaway of 74 yards in 2012, Peterson has gained 201 yards on 46 carries. As long as the Vikings don’t have a top-tier quarterback, Peterson can be nearly shut down.

One-dimensional teams, even at 8-3, have little shot against the Seahawks defense. The next three opponents, the Baltimore Ravens (4-8), Cleveland Browns (2-10) and St. Louis Rams (4-8), have nearly zero dimension on offense, with all down to second- or third-string QBs.

With four games to go, the Seahawks are 7-5 and alone in the sixth and final NFC playoff spot, after Tampa Bay beat Atlanta Sunday to make both teams 6-6. Only four NFC teams have better records than Seattle: Carolina 12-0, Arizona 10-2, Green Bay and Minnesota, both 8-4. The sixth and final playoff team will be the champion of the woebegone NFC East, which may not produce a .500 record.

The Seahawks will be heavily favored in each of next three games. A six-game winning streak will put them at 10-5 heading into the final regular-season game Jan. 3 at Arizona. The Cardinals could well have the NFC West clinched by then, meaning that they could choose to rest their top players, such as Palmer.

So even if the division title is out of reach, making the playoffs, given the schedule, now is likely for the Seahawks.

Entering as a wild card is a more perilous route than the past two years — no first-round bye and likely all road games, if they are so fortunate to keep winning — but the way the Seahawks have come together the past three weeks suggests that many things are possible.

That was evident in the diverse playcalling from much-criticized offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who kept the Vikings defense off-balance.

“We really were aggressive today,” Wilson said. “So many of us can make so many different plays.”

Best evidence came in the third quarter. The Vikings, who by then had lost to injury a key starter from the line, the linebackers and the secondary, were down 28-0 when Wilson kept the ball on a read option for a 53-yard TD.

But TE Luke Willson was flagged for a holding call on the run.

Undeterred, the Seahawks ran a play-fake followed by post route to Baldwin, who was wide open for a feathery throw from Wilson that hit him in stride for a “make-up” TD. Back to back scores from midfield that were from opposite parts of the playbook.

The key was giving Wilson the extra second of protection that he has needed to make the offense blossom.

“The protection is as good as we’ve seen it in a while,” Carroll said. “When you protect him, he’s tough to deal with.’’

Since it’s December, so are all of the Seahawks.


YourThoughts

  • Sam Base

    When the Seahawks play like the Seahawks it’s a helluva ride. It’s muscle car time and no gas lines. When they do, instead of making you feel stressed out, they make you feel all jacked up. You almost feel like going outdoors and throwing around a football. But you don’t. Because you’re too old and you’re not Pete Carroll. That’s Pete’s job. The Eternal Kid. And boy can he coach football.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      What is that in Adrian Petersons driveway?Sporting a personalized license plate that Reads 0~4 SB 1977….A bright purple VW Bug with a stock am radio and factory tires. That is the “Muscle Car” that showed up to drag race the HAWKS.

      Although the Vikings did not prevail in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX, and XI,the ydid REACH The big game 4x.
      Last SB Jan 9th 1977 after losing to the Oakland Raiders 32~14 to fall to 0~4 in the 1st ten years of the SB era…….

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        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Would love to get together with you and waste your personal time…when can we meet?

  • Joe Lee

    It does not befit a team, or fans of a team, that aspires to “football bad-assery” to wish for an opponent to sit out so as to increase its chances. If I ever had such a thought, and I’m not for a minute saying that I had, I would certainly never mention it in public.

    • art thiel

      I don’t know what is befitting of whom, I just know it’s my job to make readers aware of potential circumstances. I prefer both teams going all-out, but the NFL rarely checks with me on my preferences.

      • Joe Lee

        Just having a little fun Art – you’re the best!

        • art thiel

          Had the sarcasm detector off. My bad.

          Thanks.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        You and Marshawn! Why do Y’ All care about what I think?

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    That was a fun game to watch for Seahawks adherents. Everybody else – especially those of the Viking persuasion – changed the channel to watch Heidi.

    • art thiel

      They’re at Lake Wobegon, ice-fishing.

      • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

        ‘Tis the season.

  • Topcatone

    “Luke Willson was flagged for a dubious holding”.nah, it was pretty blatant, they had to call that. We may make the playoffs,but they HAVE to fix the penalty situation. BTW, the media keeps harping on the unsportsmanlike conduct call, but I thought it was a good call. He was clearly down and the guy grabbed and lifted his leg. Still way way too many penalties for a good team. It could have been worse for the Vikings, if Rawls had not fumbled on that first drive.

    • art thiel

      Seahawks made it to two Super Bowls while leading the league in penalties. I know what you’re saying, but it’s part of the way Carroll’s teams do bidness.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        And it is part of their make up or their “Badness” .

  • ll9956

    “Football bad-assery”: Another gem, Art.

    It’s hard to believe that the Hawks were able to limit Adrian Peterson to a measly 18 yards. That’s gotta be his lowest production in umpteen games. I’ll let Steve Rudman, statistician extraordinaire, figure that one out.

    One cannot help but wonder how the Hawks’ five losses might have turned out if they could have been playing as well as this earlier in the season. Regardless of who plays for AZ when that game rolls around, or what the playoff implications might be, it would be sweet to hand them a loss.

    Go Hawks!

  • Gerald Turner

    The happy times are back at the Seahawk fan club, that’s for sure.

    • art thiel

      Swap out one center, and everyone’s giddy.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Giddy is not primarily contained by center position.
        A hurt Lynch also helped produce this stat,,,,,

        • Thomas Rawls ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries Sunday.
        According to the NFL, Rawls has the most rushing yards (711) by an
        undrafted player in his first six career starts since the AFL-NFL merger
        in 1970.

        Then there are…. These 3 rookies they have hit on.
        And RW of course playing out of his mind. This in the 4th year of his career when most Qbs are just coming around to figuring out how to survive at that position.
        It has been an interesting season to be sure.

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    Could it be? Could it ACTUALLY be? Could the Hooterville One-Timers be closing in on the mighty FIRST Wildcard position in a league in which soon every team will make the playoffs? Regardless, that would mean that if the One-Timers could actually then win a Divisional playoff game on the road–reversing the One-Timers’ flameout against the Falcons, although LEGEND has it that the One-Timers mounted a historical comeback, which ignores the fact that the Falcons had long lost interest because of the One-Timers ineptitude–and then win a conference championship on the road (does anyone remember 1983 against the Raiders?), the One-Timers would get to get toasted, and big time this year, by angry Five-Timer Tom Brady and those cheating Patriots. (The only way they have won five times is by cheating, right?). But I am getting ahead of myself. Let Mudville have a nice Christmas. I just am no fun, am I?

    • rosetta_stoned

      You couldn’t be more tedious if you tried.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        You surmised that too?
        Humans are imperfect but…..a 3 game win streak beats a skid.Simple Math indeed.
        Hawks are in the entertainment bizz. Russ did just that w/5TDs on his Birthday for us.
        Encore was 3 TD passing/1 rushing Dec.6th.
        Whatzit?Another Rawls 200+yard game?Does Kearse as of late the Quiet one now step up and have a 4TD game of his own for a heavy hitter move?
        We do not know which makes it exciting in this race to 2016…..it is anybody’s guess!The only thing we do know for sure is Art will keep churning out the deep thought material and entertain us~Like RW and the rest of our great group from this 2015 Squad! Go Hawks!

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    Uh, the Luke Willson holding call wasn’t dubious at all if you watched the replay.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Seahawks merriment, on a dismal December evening… this is a Pacific NW tradition i can get used to!
    A real indicator of the Hawks progress is how there recent draftees are doing, and the report card is lookin prit-tee good. Clark, Lockett, and Rawls all making significant contributions. The front office keeps re loading with young cap friendly talent, to the extent that the big ticket failures (Harvin, Graham?) don’t even matter.

  • jafabian

    This team is reminding of the 1986 team where they’re playing so well it’s hard to imagine any team beating them. But unlike the 86 team they’re peaking in time for the playoffs. Come playoff team no team will want to play them.

    • art thiel

      Cards didn’t seem to miss Chris Johnson any more than Seahawks missed Lynch/Graham.

  • bevdog

    Art, your writing skills are a treasure trove of prose! Your work is as good as it gets. Well done!

    • art thiel

      Bowing at the waist in your direction . . .

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    Just a guess, but a reasonable one: Nobody wants to play against the Seahawks right now. According to the oddsmakers, Seattle was favored by a field goal or less for yesterday’s contest. The Vikings were “resurgent” or “hot” going into the game. Adrian Peterson was a “force to be reckoned with.” He’s the leading running back in the NFL and he got 18 yards. That’s 13 fewer than Russell Wilson. These are good days for those of us who – once upon a time – said, “Who the hell is Jack Patera?”

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Hey Ray? RW got 51 yrds on 9 carries. 51-18=33. Should have been a 100 yard day for our guy.
      He was absolutely robbed of a 53 TD run by a (Helfet)hands sliding off of a guys shoulders holding call…so Russ promptly threw for a 53 yard pass to the not so angry one on the next play.
      Almost triple that of all world RB . Yo Adrian!? You got outplayed by a 5’10 3/4″ scampering QB….it could have been 104 to 18 instead of 51 to 18.
      I would say impressive or dominant but it somehow seems a little light in description.
      Go Hawks!

      • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

        Please don’t hold me to mathematical accuracy for two reasons: 1: The point was valid and the extra two yards aren’t really significant statistically; 2. I don’t really give a sh** about precision.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Russ gained 33 yards more than AD…but you r right who cares if you were off~twas a good game ….lol
          He should have had that 53 yard TD too…any way you slice it he ran better than Adrian…. IF Russ was allowed to keep that(TD) instead of 51 he would have had double..104….it was a great all around game for our QB

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Just caught my eye since 13 and friday the 13s are a favorite # of mine.
      Warren Moons birthday…. fri 13th (in NOV) for instance…mine too.

      RW had a great rushing day BTW?Yo, Adrian? 18 is how old your son will be someday soon. Guessing you didn’t keep a copy of this particular game for him for a future Re~watching of his daddy!
      Yes son…their QB DID in fact out rush me…no son…that is not suppose to happen! Yes son, we lost. No son. I didnt try to play QB after that game?
      Yes son…I am going to call my anger mgmt counselor now cuz the game is making me steamed all over again. Darn…dang….oh Fiddlesticks. There! I used a few of his suggested quiet anger words!

      On our (12) end?Go Hawks!!