Vikings report card: Turnovers costly in loss at Seattle

Turnovers are one of the key statistics for the Minnesota

Vikings, and Sunday’s loss at Seattle was all about the turnovers.

Minnesota (2-8) was minus-4 in turnover differential on

Sunday, committing four costly turnovers and not getting any takeaways on defense

in a 41-20 loss on the road to the 10-1 Seahawks. Since getting 12 takeaways in

the season’s first four games, the Vikings have two takeaways total the past

six weeks. Minnesota has 12 turnovers during that span.

Here’s how the Vikings graded out in each phase on Sunday at

Seattle:

Pass offense: D

The turnovers were the story on Sunday with Christian Ponder

committing three and Matt Cassel adding one after replacing Ponder in the

fourth quarter. Minnesota actually moved the ball at times against the Seahawks

strong defense, but each of the four turnovers led to points. Ponder had one

interception returned for a touchdown and the other three turnovers led to a

short field for Seattle — all of them came in the passing game. Ponder fumbled

after having his arm hit on his first drop-back of the game and then threw two

interceptions in the second half.

Ponder started 9-of-13 passing for 114 yards and a touchdown

in the first half and then went 4 of 9 for just 15 yards passing in the second

half with two interceptions. Cassel was 5 of 13 for 78 yards, with an

interception after his pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Cassel

connected with Jarius Wright for a 21-yard touchdown pass with just over two

minutes remaining in the game, Minnesota’s only points of the second half.

Making his first start because Greg Jennings was inactive

with an Achilles injury, Wright had three catches for 69 yards and two

touchdowns of over 20 yards. John Carlson continued to fill in admirably for

Kyle Rudolph, leading the team with five catches for 69 yards and Cordarrelle

Patterson, starting for the benched Jerome Simpson, had three catches for 28

yards. Simpson played, but was behind Wright, Patterson and Joe Webb in total

snaps.

Run offense: D

Coach Leslie Frazier and running back Adrian Peterson

revealed after the game that Peterson wasn’t at full strength after missing two

days of practice with a groin injury. Peterson said the injury kept him from

breaking a few long runs on Sunday. He was clearly bothered by the injury and

finished with 3.1 yards per carry. He was constantly stuck at the line of

scrimmage, partly because of his inability to hit holes with speed and because

the offensive line struggled again to open holes.

The Vikings stayed patient with the running game, but

Peterson ended up with just 65 yards on 21 carries, his long a 13-yarder.

Backup Toby Gerhart saw his most carries in a single game this season and

replaced Peterson for good when the game got out of hand. Gerhart outgained

Peterson, rushing for 67 yards on seven carries, including a 32-yarder.

Pass defense: D

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s numbers don’t jump out,

but he made the plays when needed and took advantage of the short field

provided by turnovers. He finished 13 of 18 for 230 yards passing and two

touchdowns. The elusive Wilson was only sacked once, maneuvering to avoid

pressure and give himself time to find his targets.

Nine different Seahawks caught a pass, the biggest coming

from Doug Baldwin on a perfect pass from Wilson over the outstretched arms of

Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes with Baldwin making a highlight-reel catch

leaping and falling in the end zone for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the

first half that gave Seattle all the momentum it needed.

Seattle finished with just 230 net passing yards — and 323

total — but didn’t need to drive the length of the field because of the

turnovers.

Run defense: B

The Seahawks didn’t need big yardage totals, and running

back Marshawn Lynch finished with three touchdowns, including one on a

reception. Seattle entered the game with the league’s second-best running game

and Lynch second in the league in rushing yards.

The Vikings still suffered from missed tackles on Sunday,

but actually held Lynch in check for the most part. The Seahawks ran for 93

yards, their third-lowest total of the season, and Lynch was limited to 54

yards on 17 carries, a 3.2-yard average while scoring on 4- and 1-yard

touchdown runs.

Special teams: C

One big mistake negated another solid game from the special

teams. With 52 seconds left in the first half, Percy Harvin went back for the

kickoff return. Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh didn’t get the ball as deep as he

normally does and Harvin returned the kickoff from four yards deep in the end

zone. He cut through the middle of the coverage team and returned the kickoff

58 yards to the Vikings’ 46-yard line to push Seattle into position for the

momentum-grabbing touchdown to Baldwin with 10 seconds left.

Walsh connected on his two field-goal attempts from 32 and

45 yards. The Seahawks had five different kickoff returners total 100 yards,

including Harvin’s big play. Patterson had four returns for a 29.3-yard

average. Punter Jeff Locke had three punts for a 36.7-yard net average.

Overall: D

Minnesota kept itself in the game early. The Vikings

controlled the clock, keeping Seattle’s offense and their own defense off the

field. But four turnovers combined with no takeaways for Minnesota was too much

to overcome. The Vikings held the ball for 34 minutes, 9 seconds to 25:51 for

Seattle and outgained the Seahawks 336-323. The minus-4 turnover-differential

tells it all. The Vikings were still within striking distance before Seattle

turned Sunday’s game into a blowout by capitalizing on short fields for three

scores in the fourth quarter and scored 20 points total off of turnovers.

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