SEATTLE – Red Bryant landed on an old, reliable Pete Carroll-ism when asked how the Seattle Seahawks responded to giving up 197 rushing yards to the Adrian Peterson-led Minnesota Vikings in the first half.
“It ain’t how you start, it’s how you finish,” the defensive end said. “And we finished well.”
Seattle allowed Peterson to rush for a season-high 182 yards on 17 carries, but bottled up the elusive runner in the second half and held on for a 30-20 victory Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks improved to 5-4, and stand alone in second place in the NFC West after Arizona (4-5) lost its fifth consecutive game, 31-17, at Green Bay.
San Francisco sits comfortably atop the division at 6-2 and had a bye this week.
Seattle halted a two-game losing streak, and improved to 4-0 at home this season.
“It definitely helps to be at home,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “It just seems like everybody is more comfortable, I guess.”
While Seattle’s defense struggled to contain Peterson, the offense carried the load for a second consecutive week.
Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch finished with 124 yards on 26 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown that gave Seattle a 27-17 lead with 4 minutes, 9 seconds left in the third quarter. Lynch ran for more than 100 yards for the fifth time this season, and is 119 yards away from rushing for 1,000 yards for a second consecutive season.
And rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had another strong performance, going 16-for-24 passing for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
Wilson finished with a 127.3 passer rating. He has thrown for nine touchdowns and no interceptions in four home games – all wins – compiling a 120.2 passer rating.
“Russell played really well,” Seattle coach Carroll said. “He did a great job of handling all the situations and the different players and the things that we did.”
The Vikings ran for 243 yards, the most Seattle has given up this season. The Seahawks were the No. 5 run defense in the league heading into Sunday’s contest, giving up 85 rushing yards a contest.
However, Peterson’s 182 yards is the most a Seattle defense has allowed since Frank Gore rushed for 207 yards in Week 2 of the 2009 season in a 23-10 loss at San Francisco.
The Seahawks knew that Peterson would be the driving force of Minnesota’s offense, yet still allowed him to routinely get to the second level of the defense.
“He ran crazy,” Carroll said. “He’s a great player, but we didn’t have to give him that much. We came out and missed a few tackles right off the bat, but it’s just miscues and we didn’t handle some adjustments that they did well.
“It was kind of a nightmare, to tell you the truth, in the first half. But the cool thing is the guys settled down and put it to work, and Gus (defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) made his adjustments and we stopped them.”
In the second half, Seattle’s defense held the Vikings to 59 total yards and three points. So what changed for the Seahawks on defense?
“We were more disciplined in our run gaps,” Thomas said. “Throughout the game, Adrian Peterson would press the line of scrimmage and then jump cut to the backside of the play. So we made a big emphasis in the second half on just maintaining our gap responsibility and just wait on him. We were patient and it paid off for us.”
Minnesota opened the scoring on a 1-yard touchdown by Peterson 105 seconds into the game. The score was set up by an impressive 74-yard run by Peterson, who cut back against Seattle’s defense by was hauled down by cornerback Brandon Browner near the goal line.
But Seattle tied it after a big play by cornerback Marcus Trufant, who stripped Percy Harvin of the football and recovered the fumble on Minnesota’s 17-yard line.
“I just tried to get my body on him and make a hit on him, and the ball popped up,” Trufant said. “And I just tried to jump on it before anybody else could get to it.”
Three plays later, Wilson scrambled to buy some time and found Golden Tate in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score.
Seattle grabbed a 14-7 lead on a 78-yard, nine-play drive at the end of the first quarter, with Wilson finding Sidney Rice for an 11-yard score. The former Vikings receiver finished with four catches for 54 yards.
But Minnesota scored 10 consecutive points in the second quarter to take the lead – another Peterson run, this one from 4 yards out, and a 36-yard field goal by rookie kicker Blair Walsh.
The Seahawks took the lead for good with 44 seconds left in the half on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that Tate capped by diving over Minnesota cornerback Josh Robinson to complete a 11-yard touchdown reception.
“That was crazy,” Carroll said about the play. “I’ll be all over him, but it was great.”
Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka had the point after touchdown kick blocked by Minnesota defensive tackle Kevin Williams, his first missed PAT as a Seahawk.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com @eric_d_williams blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks