SEATTLE -- CenturyLink Field remains a House of Horrors for the Minnesota Vikings.
With playoff seeding on the line, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Vikings 37-30 on Monday Night Football. Minnesota had won six of seven entering the game and hoped to improve its wild-card bid with a victory.
This defeat doesn’t affect the Vikings’ postseason chances as of now, as they remain the No. 6 seed and have an 86.2% chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN’s FPI. But the way Minnesota lost after being in control in the first half exposed holes that could haunt the team down the stretch.
The Seahawks remain a thorn in Mike Zimmer’s side as the only NFC team he has failed to beat as Vikings coach. Zimmer is 0-3 vs. Seattle, including a loss in the 2015 wild-card game.
QB breakdown: Forget the routine criticism of Kirk Cousins’ prime-time record, including an 0-8 mark on Monday Night Football. The Vikings quarterback is not responsible for this loss. Cousins was efficient and made smart decisions in the first half, allowing Minnesota to take a 17-10 lead into the break. The only notable issue, and it’s hardly all on Cousins, was a strange decision by the Vikings' offense to take their time after Stefon Diggs was clearly stopped short of the chains in the second quarter (it was ruled a first down) and not run the hurry-up to get a play off before Seahawks coach Pete Carroll could challenge the spot. The ruling was reversed, and the first down became third-and-1.
Cousins did what he could to stage a comeback in the second half after losing running back Dalvin Cook to injury midway through the third quarter, but the QB simply cannot rescue a porous run and pass defense. After catching four passes for 25 yards in the first half, Diggs disappeared, accounting for three drops, including a costly interception that led to a Seattle touchdown three plays later. Cousins threw TDs -- a 58-yarder to Laquon Treadwell and a 3-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph -- on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter, but Dan Bailey’s missed point after following the second touchdown kept it a four-point game. Cousins is one of six quarterbacks to overcome multiple 17-point deficits in the past five seasons (Week 11 vs. Broncos, Week 7 of 2015 vs. Buccaneers). Nobody in that span has overcome three such deficits.
Troubling trend: The Vikings' defense is in a bad spot. After entering Week 13 with the No. 5 run defense (94.2 YPG), Minnesota was carved up. Chris Carson had 23 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown, and Rashaad Penny had 15 carries for 74 yards and a TD. Zimmer placed importance on remedying the issues with the pass defense during the bye, but the same problems keep occurring in the secondary, namely with the play of Xavier Rhodes. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was 5-of-5 for 105 yards and a touchdown when Rhodes was the nearest defender on Monday, including a 60-yard TD by receiver David Moore. Following the play, Rhodes and Zimmer exchanged words on the sideline, and the cornerback threw his helmet twice in frustration. The Vikings knew that containing Wilson would be difficult, but the way this pass defense has performed this season leaves Minnesota in a vulnerable position as it continues to make a push toward the playoffs.
Offensive injuries: Minnesota was already without wide receiver Adam Thielen, who was ruled out Sunday because of a hamstring injury that has lingered since he sustained it in Week 7. The Vikings then lost Cook at the 8:56 mark of the third quarter to a shoulder injury, and despite his being listed as questionable after exiting the game, the running back did not return. The Vikings also lost left tackle Riley Reiff in the second half because of a concussion.