A decade after they last donned a green jersey-blue pants combination, the Seahawks outlasted the Minnesota Vikings in the same manner Olindo Mare outlasted Jim Mora: It was touch and go in moments, but was it ever really in doubt?
On offense, Seattle spread the ball like Seneca Wallace spread across the depth chart once upon a time, as 10 different players registered a carry or reception.
On defense, a revitalized secondary continued to make timely plays, the defensive line kept up their swarming nature of the last month, and K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, well, you know. All that and more highlighted below in this week’s All-22 Musings.
[SEA 1-10 SEA 26] (14:55) G. Fant reported in as eligible. C. Carson left tackle to SEA 35 for 9 yards (X. Rhodes, H. Smith)
Mike Iupati was vital on Monday night, as he has been on chunk plays for the Seahawks on the ground all season long. An outstanding rep from him here, as he helps Joey Hunt before moving up to the second level. D.J. Fluker, similarly, moves well to the second level and shoves Eric Kendricks quite a distance.
[MIN 2-1 MIN 26] (11:09) K. Cousins pass short right to C. Ham to SEA 38 for 36 yards (B. Wagner) [B. McDougald]
It was an ugly start for Seattle’s defense, allowing a 36-yard gain to C.J. Ham on a play-action pass similar to the Seahawks’ game-winner against the Buccaneers. But it is worth highlighting if for no other reason than the way the Vikings exploit the aggression with which Jadeveon Clowney has pursued ball carriers from the backside this year. Nine times out of 10 it is great—and results in minimal gains—but Minnesota picked on it here.
[MIN 1-10 SEA 38] (10:25) D. Cook left end to SEA 34 for 4 yards (K. Wright; Q. Diggs)
Practically the entire front plays this run well, flowing laterally—Poona Ford is never knocked over—but there is something incredibly satisfying about watching Quandre Diggs fly in from the bottom of the screen and get in a big hit—and not for the only time in Week 13.
[SEA 3-4 SEA 42] (5:38) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short middle to J. Gordon to MIN 48 for 10 yards (X. Rhodes)
It is another Russell Wilson-Josh Gordon connection that looks all too easy, but Wilson only uses his fastball when he really needs it. He needed it here, throwing an absolute dart with finger-shattering velocity to beat the blitz and exploit the lack of underneath coverage from the Vikings.
[SEA 3-3 MIN 20] (1:30) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short middle to DK. Metcalf to MIN 1 for 19 yards (M. Hughes)
It is the same thing we have seen all year from DK Metcalf on completions over the middle: He sells Mike Hughes on the vertical route, and uses that separation to haul in the easy reception inside. Metcalf’s awareness of his own strengths is fantastic, and it shows every single week.
[MIN 1-10 MIN 25] (:11) D. Cook left tackle to MIN 29 for 4 yards (P. Ford)
Ford is just a problem inside, plain and simple. Takes the chip from the left guard and unmoved, continues down the line to meet Dalvin Cook in the hole. Ford’s balance is simply absurd, and his stature is an absolute asset on the interior.
Ford’s high school football coach, with whom he has a great relationship, chimed in on Twitter, as he often does when Ford’s clips are tweeted out:
Not sure people realize how incredible of a play this is by Poona. https://t.co/gkLipOKuXj— Coach BJ Payne (@Americanfbcamp) December 5, 2019
[MIN 3-8 MIN 42] (12:35) (Shotgun) K. Cousins pass short left to O. Johnson to MIN 43 for 1 yard (B. McDougald)
Against Minnesota, Bradley McDougald continued playing with the reckless abandon that has propelled him to great performance after great performance since Diggs’ arrival. As he did last week wrestling with Dallas Goedert at the line of scrimmage, McDougald’s undeterred by the five inch, 50-pound difference between himself and Kyle Rudolph, fighting off the block (with some help from a fallen Vikings lineman) and dropping Bisi Johnson for a one-yard gain on 3rd and 8.
[MIN 1-10 MIN 19] (9:51) D. Cook up the middle to MIN 25 for 6 yards (B. McDougald)
Minnesota’s offensive line gets good movement at the line on this Cook run, only for—who else—McDougald to fly in and trip him up in the hole. The confidence and speed McDougald is playing with since Diggs came into the lineup is resulting in an extra play or two every week he was not making previously.
[MIN 1-10 MIN 34] (8:25) D. Cook right end to MIN 36 for 2 yards (K. Wright; B. Wagner)
Half a dozen times or so this year, K.J. Wright has given us a play that makes one just feel thankful that 2018’s injury-riddled campaign was not the end; that we were able to take another season and appreciate a defender whose been perpetually underappreciated. In this instance, we can take a moment to adore the Bobby Wagner and Wright duo which has been such a constant presence. Watching the two brilliant defenders hunt Cook, in perfect unison, is one of the most pleasing plays of the 2019 season.
[MIN 2-8 MIN 36] (7:42) (Shotgun) K. Cousins pass short left to I.Smith to MIN 42 for 6 yards (Q. Diggs, K. Wright)
I have a lot of time for both Diggs and Wright, but Diggs evidently has no time for Wright’s patience. Watching Diggs fly in from centerfield is one of life’s pure joys—just not for Irv Smith.
[SEA 3-1 MIN 44] (3:43) G. Fant reported in as eligible. R. Wilson pass short right to J. Hollister to MIN 28 for 16 yards (A. Barr)
Just as Wilson can uncork a fastball when it is needed, he can take everything off it and loft a perfectly placed floater with flawless touch. Wilson has total command of his game, but his touch never ceases to amaze. (Play-action does wonderfully here to vacate the space Jacob Hollister finds.)
[SEA 2-7 MIN 25] (2:23) R. Penny left end pushed ob at MIN 12 for 13 yards (H. Smith)
Duane Brown struggled early in the season as he battled knee and bicep injuries, but an area where he has remained consistent throughout is moving in space and staying on blocks. Over the last month, Brown has been playing solid football in both phases, and barring injury, he should be brought back in 2020.
[MIN 3-1 MIN 34] (:34) (No Huddle) D. Cook up the middle to MIN 35 for 1 yard (J. Clowney)
Clowney has been a dominant force defending the run in 2019, and has rag-dolled tackles with regularity; blocking him with a tight end one-on-one is a terrible idea. Unfortunately for Cook, meeting him in the hole is not much better. What a hit. (And again, McDougald flying around the box and there to make a play, should Clowney suddenly prove not to be an unstoppable force.)
[MIN 3-6 MIN 29] (13:32) (Shotgun) K. Cousins sacked at MIN 21 for -8 yards (J. Reed). FUMBLES (J. Reed) [J. Reed], touched at MIN 23, recovered by MIN-B. ONeill at MIN 9. Minnesota challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was REVERSED
Jarran Reed was questionable for Week 13, but it did not seem to hamper him here, as he displayed the traits that made him so dangerous as an interior rusher last year: Hands and feet in constant motion, working in sync to disengage and the short-area quickness to close.
Reed was aided by Shaquem Griffin’s inside move, which caused havoc—even if Griffin does not develop as a rusher, his speed makes him a total agent of chaos, which in itself has value.
[SEA 3-1 SEA 48] (11:42) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf to MIN 44 for 8 yards (X. Rhodes)
Just as he does on in-breaking routes, Metcalf mitigates a lack of agility when he comes back to the football by winning with excellent positioning. As Seattle’s incorporated curls and comebacks into Metcalf’s arsenal, he has shown a great ability to position himself between the defensive back and the ball, sealing them out and making for an easy completion. Metcalf is raw, but an obviously intelligent player; doubt him at your own risk.
[SEA 1-10 MIN 30] (10:33) G. Fant reported in as eligible. C. Carson right tackle to MIN 5 for 25 yards (E. Wilson)
There is solid blocking from the Seahawks, and Germain Ifedi gets enough on Anthony Barr to spring Chris Carson, but what is worth watching—several times, even—is the fluidity Carson has opening his hips, shifting inside and leaving Harrison Smith grasping at air.
[SEA 2-Goal MIN 1] (9:06) (Shotgun) G. Fant reported in as eligible. R. Penny left end for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN
Once more, Iupati gets into space and delivers the key block for the Seattle. Iupati may not be perfect, particularly at this stage of his career, but he is pretty close to perfect for what the Seahawks ask him to do. He has been a valuable free agent signing, and will be worth bringing back for another season if he stays healthy.
[MIN 1-10 MIN 38] (5:06) (No Huddle) A. Mattison left tackle to MIN 38 for no gain (R. Green)
Rasheem Green did not see much action against the Vikings, but continued to be an effective rotational player, most notably with the forced fumble. For a second consecutive game, he had a great rep on the edge in run defense, getting off a block and making a stop in the hole for no gain on first down, while Al Woods eats up space alongside him.
[SEA 2-8 MIN 13] (13:37) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to R. Penny for 13 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Another key block from Iupati, this time with absolutely impeccable timing and awareness on the screen pass to help spring Rashaad Penny. An incredibly veteran, savvy play from one of Seattle’s best veteran pickups.
[SEA 4-3 SEA 32] (11:18) (Punt formation) T. Homer right end pushed ob at MIN 39 for 29 yards (M. Hughes)
Since Travis Homer took C.J. Prosise’s place on the game day roster, I have been eager to see him get snaps in the two-minute drill. This will not help that desire. Homer has tremendous burst and finishes his runs aggressively, two traits which showed up on Pete Carroll’s bold call.
[MIN 2-Goal SEA 2] (8:05) (No Huddle) A. Mattison up the middle to SEA 3 for -1 yards (J. Clowney)
Clowney’s inside swim move has been a wonderful sight in 2019, and it resulted in an emphatic stop here. He did not hit Alexander Mattison clean, but had he done so, it would have been a replica on his ridiculous stop on Cook early in the game. Whatever pain and injury Clowney has to play through, he appears to be just fine doing so.
[SEA 3-19 SEA 30] (4:15) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf to SEA 45 for 15 yards (H. Smith)
The Seahawks really love the quick screen game, but I wanted to highlight this play for another receiver, Malik Turner. There is a description used for NBA players who space the floor, move the ball and play solid defense, and it is that they “drive winning.”
Turner “drives winning” for Seattle. He blocks well, is savvy in rub routes, a good special teamer (as we saw at the end of the game) and always maximizes his yards after the catch. He simply never harms the team. It may be hard to tell with the angle—and the way Xavier Rhodes falls to the turf—but Turner pulls up on this block before he engages, avoiding a block in the back penalty. He simply drives winning.
The Seahawks’ winning ways have them at 10-2, first place in the NFC West and on the verge of clinching a playoff spot in Week 14. To do so, Seattle will need to pull off the season sweep (or, tie) against Sean McVay’s suddenly resurgent Rams, on Sunday Night Football.