by MIKE MAREK
When I moved to Seattle I was warned to be afraid of how local Seattlelites would treat you upon first greeting. I was told that when meeting someone for the first time, whether it be on the street, at a party, or in the office, to expect to be given the cold shoulder at first. The renowned “Seattle freeze.” The freeze can take you aback, especially coming from friendly Minnesota. This unfriendly freeze seems to have grasped the Vikings in its chilly mist, as they are 0-6 in recent match-ups against Seattle.
The Seahawks themselves don’t appear to be an elite team. One could easily argue that in most of their games this year they got lucky. This good luck streak has been driven by last-second heroic wins by their likely MVP quarterback, Russell Wilson. They have also shown a propensity for being bailed out by opposing kickers when the game has been on the line, but enough about the Seahawks. Let’s talk about Minnesota.
Coming into Monday Kirk Cousins was an abhorrent 0-7 on Monday Night Football; he finished the night at 0-8. Kirk, however, is not all to blame for the Vikings’ loss this time around. Kirk played admirably against the blitzing Seahawks. The interception that he did throw could easily have been overturned had Zimmer decided to throw the challenge flag, which for some inexplicable reason stayed in his pocket. Missed challenge opportunities aside, I for one am looking squarely at the defensive side of the ball for the majority of the Vikings’ woes this week.
The defense couldn’t stop the run to save their lives. Big runs on first down became the standard. The run offense of the Seahawks ran through the Vikings’ defense like butter. In total Minnesota gave up a season high of 218 rushing yards. The embarrassing thing about that total is that the Vikings seemed to make minimal adjustments throughout the game to counter Seattle’s success. They continually allowed Seattle to run all over them, which hurt in terms of time of possession and ultimately the scoreboard.
In the secondary, Xavier Rhodes continues to be a big question mark as to how viable he can be as a starting cornerback in the NFL. Yes, he did end up causing a late-game fumble, however, his poor play earlier in the game — particularly the blown coverage on the 60-yard Seahawks’ touchdown strike — are unforgivable for a corner that has been touted as “shutdown.”
With all the doom and gloom surrounding the Vikings, I will point out the silver lining. The Vikings are still 8-4. They have four winnable games in front of them (Lions, Chargers, Packers, and Bears). I still think they go 12-4 and qualify for the playoffs.
What was missed was on Monday was an opportunity to take the reins on the NFC playoff race, and a chance to turn around the stars of their much repudiated quarterback.
What it all boils down to is the Vikings lost a tough game on the road. They are still very much alive, and for the most part they stood and fought against another playoff team. I give the effort a B-minus, and I expect much more out of them in the weeks to come.