Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks needed more than three quarters to warm up at Minnesota, their quest to avenge last year’s Super Bowl loss nearly frozen before it began.
The Vikings, after gritting through this grind-it-out wild-card-round playoff game, booted their chance to beat the two-time defending NFC champions. Blair Walsh’s 27-yard field goal try into the frigid wind hooked left with 22 seconds remaining, handing the Seahawks a 10-9 victory over the stunned Vikings on a Sunday in below-zero weather that tied for the third-coldest NFL game on record.
“A lot of people would’ve folded up and said, ‘That’s it,’ but we’ve got a team full of fighters,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said.
The Seahawks (11-6) didn’t score until Wilson’s short touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin early in the fourth quarter. Then, a fumble by the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson on the next possession set up a field goal by Steven Hauschka.
The Vikings (11-6) took the ball for the deciding drive with 1:42 left at their 39 and, aided by a pass-interference penalty on Kam Chancellor, drove deep into Seattle territory. After they drained the clock for the seemingly inevitable win, Walsh simply missed his kick after making all three of his earlier attempts.
“That’s called grace,” Chancellor said. “That’s all it is.”
Seattle will play next weekend at Carolina, where the Panthers had a first-round bye in balmy mid-50s weather.
“I think we were fortunate that we got the win,” Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said. “A lot of those times, guys make those kicks. There’s a high percentage that they make them, but you’ve still got to do it.”
Walsh didn’t hide. Holder Jeff Locke had the laces turned in, not out, but there were no excuses to be made.
“You’re confident, but you never think that you have it or take it for granted,” said Walsh, who was subdued with glassy eyes in the locker room afterward. “I just didn’t put a swing on it that would be acceptable by anybody’s standards.”
Locke accepted his share of blame, saying he “definitely could have spun the ball better.”
Said Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer: “‘It’s a chip shot. He’s got to make it.”
Huddled around sideline heaters and wearing huge capes on the shaded side of the stadium, the Seahawks were subdued themselves for much of the game. Trailing 9-0 at the 13-minute mark, Wilson nearly took a huge loss on first down when he fumbled a shotgun snap he wasn’t ready for. But the guy Zimmer called “Houdini” during the week darted right, dodged a sack and found Tyler Lockett wide open for a 35-yard completion to set up the score to Baldwin.
“Just tried to extend the play,” said Wilson, who was 13 for 26 for 142 yards. “Find a way.”