Unable to get one last stop at the end of regulation, the Seattle Seahawks dropped to 0-3 in the preseason following a disappointing 21-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Seattle fell behind early on a rushing touchdown by Vikings running back Latavius Murray, but quarterback Russell Wilson responded by engineering a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of his own. Coach Pete Carroll should be enthused about how his starters performed across the board, as his team held a 10-6 lead at halftime and tacked on another field goal midway through the third quarter.
Unfortunately, as has been the theme of the entire exhibition season, Seattle once again couldn't finish off an opponent, allowing the home team to rally during the final minutes of regulation.
Even in defeat, this proved to be exciting football for an August preseason contest. Here's some closing thoughts from tonight's defeat in Minnesota.
- The newly-discovered variance of the run game continues to be an exciting development for Seattle’s offense. Shifting away from former line coach Tom Cable's zone-heavy blocking scheme, the Seahawks have implemented more plays featuring man, gap-oriented blocking schemes with Mike Solari at the helm. During Seattle's touchdown drive, Brian Schottenheimer dialed several trap runs, including Carson’s easy five-yard touchdown in the red zone in which Pocic trapped to the right side and Germain Ifedi made a beautiful block to create running room. On a later play the ensuing drive, D.J. Fluker pulled from his right guard spot and helped open up a large lane for Mike Davis to pick up eight yards.
- The duo of Carson and Davis played efficiently in the first half, combining for 49 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown. Carson continues to prove he's a complete package, capable of bowling over and through defenders as a ball carrier while also exhibiting soft hands after the catch. His most impressive play tonight, however, may have been without the football in his hands. On Seattle's second drive of the third quarter, the Vikings brought the blitz and a defender shot through the line untouched. Carson played the scenario to perfection, immediately identifying the blitzer and stone-walling him at the point of contact, allowing Russell Wilson to hit Marcus Johnson for a 34-yard pickup along the right sideline.
- Fans clamored for Brandon Marshall to show why there's been so much hype surrounding him in recent weeks and the veteran receiver answered the call, catching three passes for 34 yards on Seattle’s touchdown drive. His signature play came on his final reception, as he showed why his impressive size can still impact games by high-pointing the football above Vikings star corner Xavier Rhodes and reeling it in for a 20-yard reception. Ex-Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds also enjoyed his finest game as a Seahawk, converting two receptions into first downs on the same drive and making a tackle on special teams.
- Though his performance tonight wasn't perfect, Alex McGough made several big-time NFL throws, displayed excellent mobility outside of the pocket, and showed enough moxie in the face of adversity to win the backup quarterback job. Austin Davis may have had offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in his corner when camp opened due to their past experience working together in St. Louis, but hasn’t done himself any favors over the past two games, as he completed two out of three passes for negative yardage tonight. As for McGough, his numbers don't reflect how well he played, as his completion percentage took a major hit thanks to a couple of drops by receivers. Most notably, on his first drive of the game, he tried to squeeze a pass in to Tanner McEvoy across the middle of the field. The throw may have been a little high, but as an NFL receiver, McEvoy should have caught it. Instead, it bounced off his hands into the air and wound up being intercepted.
- Seattle's starting defense played better than it did a week ago, especially against the run. The interior line led by Tom Johnson, Jarran Reed, and Shamar Stephen set the tone at the line of scrimmage, allowing Seattle to hold Minnesota to only 27 rushing yards on 13 carries in the first half. But despite the Seahawks success on first and second down, they couldn't get off the field when they needed to. Fueled by sloppy tackling and an untimely penalty in the red zone, Seattle surrendered seven third down conversions in the first half alone. Carroll won't be happy about his team's inability to finish defensively both in individual drives and the game as a whole.
- Decisions along the defensive line keep getting tougher and tougher thanks to undrafted rookie Poona Ford. As shown by Kasen William's eventual release last year, being a preseason star doesn't guarantee a roster spot, but the former Texas star continues to be a disruptive force in the interior. Ford finished the night with three tackles and also broke down the pocket on several occasions as a pass rusher. A favorite of defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, his emergence will leave Carroll and general manager John Schneider with a challenging choice to make after the preseason finale.
- Erik Walden joined the Seahawks last week off the unemployment line, but you would've thought he had been with the team for months based on his dominant debut. The 33-year old veteran made an immediate impression, sacking Vikings backup quarterback Trevor Siemian on his first series. On the next-to-last series of the game, he once again reached the quarterback coming untouched on a delayed blitz and nearly picked up his third sack the following play. Walden could be a sneaky good mid-camp pickup due to his experience rushing off the edge.
- While the Seahawks still need to work on "finishing" drives on offense and defense, special teams played a near-perfect game in Minnesota. Rookie sensation Michael Dickson might be the most popular player in this year's draft class and his effort against the Vikings only enhanced his national appeal. He punted five times for a 53.6 yard average and pinned the Vikings at their own three-yard line on two separate occasions. On the other end of the age spectrum, kicker Sebastian Janikowski showed off his cannon for a leg, booting a 55-yard field goal through the uprights in the second half. Receiver David Moore, who cemented his status as a lock to make the final roster with a 36-yard touchdown catch, also took a punt return back to the house only to see it called back by a lousy holding call.