Every chance he got during the week, Percy Harvin got into Pete Carroll’s ear and asked for a chance to not just make his awaited debut in Seattle, but do it both as a wide receiver and a kick returner.
And every time Harvin pleaded, Carroll said no.
With less than a minute left in the first half, Carroll relented and gave Harvin a shot at the kind of game-changing play the Seahawks waited an extra three months to finally see. Against his former team, Harvin made certain to deliver in a 41-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
”It was something I wanted real bad and not just because I wanted to make a big play, but I’m a kick returner so I wanted to get back there and get a feel for the kick returning again,” Harvin said. ”It was a chance to make a big play and he came to me and I was able to make it.”
Harvin’s 58-yard kickoff return late in the first half set up Russell Wilson’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 10 seconds left in the second quarter, and the Seahawks rolled to their franchise-record 13th straight home win.
Harvin made his highly anticipated Seattle debut after missing the first 10 weeks of the regular season following hip surgery. While he was mostly a decoy offensively, he provided two of the biggest plays as the Seahawks improved to 10-1 and stayed on top of the NFC heading into their bye week.
Harvin pulled in a juggling third-down conversion for 17 yards in the second quarter that led to Marshawn Lynch’s second TD run and gave Seattle the lead for good. Then came his kickoff return at the end of the half that helped give the Seahawks take a 24-13 lead at the break.
Harvin’s two touches were athletic and impressive, and a brief peek at what the best team in the NFC could be adding for their final five games.
”The glimpse of us having the firepower all over the field, that’s what we’ve been waiting on this whole season,” Baldwin said.
After the game, Harvin revealed the hip surgery wasn’t his only procedure in the past year. Harvin had an appendectomy late last fall and a tumor was discovered in the appendix.
”He’s an extraordinary football player, but he’s a better competitor,” Carroll said. ”That’s what we love about him.”
Wilson and Lynch wouldn’t let Harvin’s debut take the entire spotlight.
Wilson had two touchdown passes, each showing off his unique skills, while Lynch had two touchdowns running and one receiving. Coming off consecutive games rushing for more than 100 yards, Lynch was held to 54 yards on 17 carries.
Wilson was done early in the fourth quarter after completing 13 of 18 passes for 230 yards and a career-best passer rating of 151.4. His TD pass to Baldwin at the end of the half was dropped into a tiny throwing window just over the outstretched arm of Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes.
Then he added a second TD in the fourth quarter when he backhanded a pass between two Vikings’ defensive linemen to a wide-open Lynch for a 6-yard TD.
”A little shortstop, second baseman flip. A double play,” Wilson said.
Seattle put the game away with a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers on poor decisions by Minnesota QB Christian Ponder. He threw behind Adrian Peterson and was intercepted by Bobby Wagner. Three passes later, Ponder threw into the belly of Walter Thurmond and he returned the interception 29 yards for his first career touchdown.
Ponder finished 13 of 22 for 129 yards, one TD and a lost fumble. Peterson was held to 65 yards on 21 carries after running for 182 against Seattle last year.
”Defense played well. As an offense, specifically me, we need more,” Ponder said.
Harvin’s big moment was the result of Seattle being aggressive at the end of the first half. Seattle used a timeout and Joe Webb’s poor decision to step out of bounds to force Blair Walsh’s 45-yarder to cut the lead to 17-13 with 48 seconds left in the half.
Catching the ensuing kickoff 4 yards deep in the end zone, Harvin sprinted untouched through the middle of the Vikings’ coverage before Marcus Sherels pulled him down from behind at the Minnesota 46.
From there, it took Wilson only 36 seconds to find the end zone. After a run by Robert Turbin and completions of 12 and 10 yards ate up Seattle’s final two timeouts, Wilson dropped a perfect pass to Baldwin and just beyond the reach of Rhodes for a 24-13 halftime lead.
NOTES: Harvin was given a chance to return after Jermaine Kearse suffered a concussion in the first half. He was Seattle’s only injury, Carroll said. … Seattle also welcomed back starting offensive tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung for first time since September. … Minnesota WR Greg Jennings (Achilles’) was a surprise inactive after being listed as probable.