Vikings fall in Seattle again after late 4th-and-inches stop
The Minnesota Vikings were running hard, the rain in Seattle was falling harder, and a few more inches on fourth down for Alexander Mattison would’ve handed the Seahawks their first loss.
That last yard proved to be the hardest to get.
Russell Wilson then sent the Vikings home with yet another wrenching loss in Seattle.
“That was a great situation to just end the game, and it’s on us as an offense,” wide receiver Adam Thielen said after the 27-26 defeat. “We need one yard, and we’ve got to get that done, to end it with us as the offense on the field.”
After watching their 13-0 lead vanish after Dalvin Cook left the game with a groin injury, the Vikings delivered a remarkable response to the 21-13 deficit they faced late in the third quarter. Kirk Cousins connected with Thielen for two touchdowns to retake the lead with 7:13 remaining.
Five plays later, an interception by linebacker Eric Wilson, who had the game of his career, gave the Vikings the ball back at midfield. Mattison smashed his way through the Seahawks on four straight carries for 39 yards.
As the 2-minute warning arrived, the Vikings faced fourth-and-inches at the 6. With no fans at normally raucous CenturyLink Field, coach Mike Zimmer opted to go for the first down rather than kick an easy field goal that would have pushed the lead from five points to eight.
“We came here to win, so I’m not going to second guess any of that stuff,” said Zimmer, whose decision to try a 2-point conversion that failed late in the third quarter and left the Vikings trailing 21-19 wound up being the one that made more of an impact.
Mattison, who had a career-high 112 rushing yards on 20 carries, plus three catches for 24 yards, followed Pro Bowl fullback C.J. Ham on the fateful fourth-down play and was stuffed at the point of attack by Bobby Wagner and Benson Mayowa.
“One more play. One more yard. One more stop. Things like that. It’s just we’re so close, and that’s probably why it’s so disappointing, it’s so frustrating, it’s humbling, honestly,” Thielen said.
Had Mattison veered slightly to the right of Ham, he likely would’ve scored untouched.
“Good backs, you don’t question them too much,” Zimmer said. “You just let them do what they do, and he’s a good back.”
Then Wilson engineered a 94-yard drive the other way for the win with a pair of fourth-down conversions, including the go-ahead 6-yard toss to D.K. Metcalf with 20 seconds left.
The Vikings fell to 0-7 against Wilson since he entered the league in 2012, with five of those losses coming under Zimmer. This was their third loss at Seattle in three years, this one by far the most crushing.
“You’re helpless at that point just watching,” Cousins said, adding: “You hate to put it in the defense’s hands like that, because as an offense you want to be able to make the plays and not ask them to have to get that stop. We’d love to be there on the field making it happen at the end.”
The momentum shift in the third quarter was about as sharp as the rules of the sport could possibly allow, a 21-0 surge by the Seahawks that took only 1:53 — yes, 1:53 — off the clock.
The Vikings picked right up where they left off at the break on defense by forcing a three-and-out on the first possession, but Cameron Dantzler was penalized for an illegal block in the back during the punt return that pushed them back to their 15-yard line.
On their first play of the second half, Cook caught a swing pass in the flat that not only went for a 5-yard loss but caused the fateful tweak of his groin and forced him out of the rest of the game save for one decoy play.
After a punt, Wilson drove the Seahawks 58 yards in four plays for their first score. The third holding penalty on struggling right guard Dru Samia on the next drive pushed the Vikings back into a third-and-17 situation during which Cousins fumbled trying to throw the ball under duress.
The Seahawks took over at the 15 and scored in two plays. Then an interception by K.J. Wright of Cousins on the first snap of the ensuing possession gave Seattle the ball at the 29, when Chris Carson steamrolled through the defense in just one play.
“I think guys were frustrated and trying to strip the ball instead of trying to make the tackle,” Zimmer said.
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