Photo: AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
Photo: AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
December 11, 2018 06:24 AM
Bobby Wagner blocked Dan Bailey's field goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter, sparking the Seahawks to two late touchdowns and a 21-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, Seattle's fourth straight victory.
Chris Carson followed the blocked kick with a 2-yard TD run with 2:53 left, and Justin Coleman provided the capper with a 29-yard fumble return touchdown 18 seconds later.
What was an ugly and mostly forgettable first three quarters turned into a Seattle party in the fourth as the Seahawks (8-5) moved to the brink of wrapping up a wild-card spot in the NFC. One win in Seattle's final three games — including matchups with lowly San Francisco and Arizona — should be enough to put the Seahawks into the postseason.
Minnesota (6-6-1) twice had scoring chances in the fourth quarter when it was still a one-score game but was turned away each time. Minnesota's chances of winning the NFC North took a major hit, but the Vikings still hold the No. 6 spot in the NFC.
Wagner has been one of the top linebackers in the NFL this season, but it was a debatable special teams play that made the difference. The question was whether his leap over the line of scrimmage was legal to block Bailey's 47-yard field goal attempt with 5:38 left. Wagner's jump through a gap in Minnesota's offensive line was fine, but it appeared he used his teammates to gain leverage, which allowed him to come through and block the kick. A flag was initially thrown but was picked up by the officials.
Seattle took possession and Russell Wilson immediately scrambled 40 yards deep into Minnesota territory. Five plays later, Carson scored and Seattle finally had a cushion.
Two plays after that, Jacob Martin sacked Minnesota's Kirk Cousins and the ball popped to Coleman, who weaved his way for the clinching touchdown.
Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 remaining, but Seattle recovered the onside kick.
Wilson had one of the worst passing games of his career, completing 10 of 20 for career-low 72 yards and a baffling interception late in the first half, one of the many mistakes by Seattle that allowed Minnesota to hang around. But Seattle's ground game was outstanding against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. The Seahawks finished with 214 yards rushing, led by 90 yards from Carson.
Minnesota hung around despite failing to run a play in Seattle territory until there was 4:16 left in the third quarter. Cousins was 20 of 33 for 208 yards, most of that coming late. But he failed to get the Vikings into the end zone from inside the Seattle 5 while trailing 6-0 early in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings had first-and-goal at the Seattle 4 but turned the ball over on downs with 9:06 remaining. Two short runs and an incompletion brought up fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Cousins' pass for Kyle Rudolph was knocked away by Bradley McDougald. Bailey's field goal was blocked on Minnesota's next drive.
Sebastian Janikowski hit field goals of 37 and 35 yards to account for all of Seattle's scoring until the closing minutes.
Minnesota fell to 0-6 when allowing its opponents to run for at least 100 yards. The Vikings came in to the week giving up 99 yards per game on the ground, good for seventh-best in the NFL. Seattle had 136 yards rushing in the first half.
OTHER CENTURY MARK
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen tied Cris Carter as the fastest Minnesota player to reach 100 receptions in a season, both accomplishing the feat in 13 games. Carter did it in 1994 when he finished the year with 122 catches. Thielen is the first Minnesota receiver to get to 100 catches since Randy Moss in 2003.
Minnesota: The Vikings return home to host Miami on Sunday.
Seattle: The Seahawks play their final road game Sunday at San Francisco.
The Associated Press
Updated: December 11, 2018 06:24 AM
Created: December 10, 2018 10:50 PM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)