Russell Wilson does what he does, Blair Walsh does not.
Call it luck if you want, but the stars aligned perfectly both Saturday and Sunday…or would you rather see the not-ready-for-prime-time Vikings face anyone?
The Seattle Seahawks, that same two-time defending NFC Champion franchise, was held scoreless for three quarters, but eventually warmed up to the notion of yet another Championship run and shutting out the Vikings 10-0 in the final quarter for a 10-9 victory.
Vikings’ kicker Blair Walsh successfully kicked a 22-yard field in the first quarter after the Seahawks botched a punt attempt, and that was all the points either team could manage for an entire half of play. But action would slowly pick up in the second half, starting with the opening drive. Vikings rookie defensive back Trae Waynes picked off his first pass as a pro denying the Seahawks of a possible score. Minnesota took advantage of this opportunity but settle for another field goal of 43 yards. Late in the quarter, Walsh made another from 48 yards out and the Seahawks found themselves down 9-zip.
After the last of the commercial sponsors got their due and the last quarter of play returned to air, you likely felt the doubt creeping in as the cold appeared to be wearing down the birds from the west coast. That doubt might likely have been frozen in place when a shot-gunned snap went whizzing by an unready Wilson’s ear threatening to end a current but moderate drive towards Minnesota’s red zone, but the fumble was picked up by Wilson with several players bearing down. While on the run to his right, he spotted the rookie receiver Tyler Lockett — who you can also credit with breaking when noting Russell’s possible fate — and hit him for a completion Tyler took further, nearly scoring. Two plays later, Wilson found his favorite receiver, Doug Baldwin, for a 3-yard score to make it a 3-point game. On the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage following the kick-off, Adrian received a short pass but with one arm being held, he could not secure the ball as it was being ripped out. Seattle recovered on Minnesota’s side of the field, then Steven Hauschka’s 46-Yd field goal put the ‘hawks up by one.
The two possessions each, neither team could do anything and punted. Then, with most likely their last chance, the Vikings sustained a drive with the help of a pass interference call against Kam Chancellor. Having the ball first-and-ten at Seattle’s 18-yard line, coach Zimmer elected to run three plays instead of taking what was now given to them. This proved to be the worst decision of the game as on fourth down, Blair Walsh shanked what was essentially a chip shot. The replay showed the laces turned the wrong way, but who can say if that played a part at such a close range.
If the choice to pass to Adrian out of the backfield to help set up Seattle’s go-ahead field goal wasn’t bad enough, the Vikings then choose to risk more and not simply kick the field goal dropped in their lap for fear of having too much time on the clock (1:34) despite their defense reestablishing itself holding the Seahawks to two straight punts prior.
‘Good teams find ways to win.’ You’ve heard this before but I’m inclined to add, “and ways to win finds the good teams.” For those of you also familiar with the life and times of Pete Carroll, yesterday didn’t surprise you at all. He exudes good fortune more than the rest of us, the great ones just do and it exceeds talent, preparation and opportunity more often than what’s considered normal. “Magic” Johnson probably had the greatest dose of it ever, whatever it is. Russell Wilson also appears to have it; the combination of different things that tip the scales of fate and is sometimes described as ‘willing’ a team on to victory.
Oh, well, the best team won and the playoffs continue at peak interest.