Laces Out: Seahawks Freeze Minnesota

On a brisk minus 6 degree day, the Minnesota Vikings seemed to have the game iced up.

With just 26 seconds left, the Vikings were lining up for what would have been the game winning field goal. Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh was already 3 for 3 in the frigid conditions, with makes from 22, 43 and 47 yards. Unfortunately for the Vikings, their luck ran out and Walsh hooked the kick wide left, and the Seahawks outlasted Minnesota 10-9.

“This was really a survival game for both teams,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said.

And survive they did. For the first three quarters, Seattle failed to get much of anything going on offense, with their first points of the game coming in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Russell Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin for a 3-yard score.

Perhaps more notable than the touchdown was the play that got the Seahawks into scoring position. On first down from Minnesota’s 39-yard line, Wilson fumbled the snap. After recovering and scrambling around, Wilson heaved it downfield to a wide-open Tyler Lockett who took off down the left side for a 35-yard gain.

“Somehow Russell works his magic and delivers the ball to Tyler Lockett….that’s what we needed in order for us to get back into the game,” Baldwin said.

Teammate Christine Michael also chimed in on Wilson’s play making ability.

“He’s one of the best doing it, he’s a guy that can freestyle back there,” Michael said. “ If it’s a bad snap he’s going to pick it up and make a play.”

On the ensuing drive, Seattle safety Kam Chancellor forced Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson to fumble deep in their own territory. Kicker Steven Hauschka would end the drive with a 46-yard field goal, giving the Seahawks a 10-9 lead.

Weather certainly factored into Sunday’s outcome. At kickoff, the temperature was a balmy minus 6 degrees with a windchill of minus 25, good for the third coldest game in NFL history.

“It was all good until my eyelashes froze,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “Then you kind of realized that it might be kind of cold out here.”

When it’s that cold, normal plays become more difficult. For starters, the air pressure in the ball decreases from the standard 12.5 PSI to about 8.5 or 9 PSI.

“They’re not allowed to heat the footballs or anything,” Hauschka said. “The balls are basically flat. When you’re kicking a flat ball, it just doesn’t go very far.”

This showed up in the passing game as well, as balls seemed to hang in the air longer than normal and Wilson just didn’t have the zip that he usually has on his passes. Sherman noticed that the weather affected the passing game for both teams.

“The ball wouldn’t sail,” Sherman said. “It wouldn’t fly like it usually does, it would kind of die off.”

The adverse conditions showed up in the box score. Wilson finished the day just 13-of-26 for 142 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished 17-of-24 for 146 yards with no touchdowns.

Seattle will travel to Charlotte, N.C., to take on MVP front runner Cam Newton and the rest of his Carolina Panthers in a week six rematch that found Seattle on the losing end, 27-23. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 17.

Around the League
Seattle wasn’t the only team who escaped with a win during Wild Card Weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves behind 16-15, after having led most of the game. However, the Cincinatti Bengals completely melted down, giving up two 15-yard penalties on the last drive, allowing the Steelers to kick the game winning field goal for a final score of 18-16.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle’s old AFC West rival, went on the road and put on an absolute beatdown on the Houston Texans, beating them by a final of 30-0
Finally, the Green Bay Packers finally started looking like the team we all thought they would be. Green Bay went on the road and pulled out a win over Washington, 35-18. The Packers’ win marked the first time in NFL history that all four road teams won during the wild card round.

AJ can be reached at sports@su-spectator.com

A northwest native, AJ is a returning college student finishing his journalism degree. He loves everything Seattle sports, and plans to carry that enthusiasm into the sports section of the Spectator this year.


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