Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks stingy defense is stacked throughout

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, Lions, Vikings defense, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Vikings draft Updated: November 1, 2012 - 11:25 AM

As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s game with Seattle at CenturyLink Field, we asked Nick Eaton, who covers the Seahawks for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, to give us his up-close-and-personal scouting report. Here are four things you need to know …

1) The Seahawks’ offense goes through Marshawn Lynch.

Yes, Vikings back Adrian Peterson leads the NFL in rushing right now with 775 yards. But Lynch isn’t far behind. The bruising back has 757 yards. And he’s part of a Seattle attack that is ground-oriented to its core. In eight games this season, the Seahawks have averaged 31 rushing attempts and 26 passes. Lynch, meanwhile, is coming off a 12-carry, 105-yard outburst in last Sunday’s loss in Detroit.

That included his longest run of the season, a 77-yard TD sprint during which he hit a hole on the right side of the field and was never touched on the way to the house.

“That was weird to see,” Eaton said. “Because he rarely gets out into the open field and is just able to sprint free. He’s always just busting through, always getting those power bursts. Five yards here, 5 yards there. And I think the most underappreciated thing about him is how headstrong he is. He keeps going and going and barreling through whether he’s getting big yards or not. He never lets up.”

That’s a scary thought for a Vikings defense that has struggled the past three weeks against the run.

2) The Seattle defense is solid on every level.

Up front, end Chris Clemons is a menace. He has seven sacks this season and 29 since joining the Seahawks in 2010. In the linebacking corps, K.J. Wright has a team-best 63 tackles. And that secondary? Corners Richard Sherman (6-foot-3, 195) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 221) are big and physical and apply a regular dose of press coverage to receivers. Plus, safeties Kam Chancellor (6-3, 232) and Earl Thomas (5-10, 202) can deliver some shots as well.

The Seahawks rank fifth in the NFL in yards allowed (312). They allow an average of 85 yards per game on the ground. They’ve also held opposing quarterbacks to an average of 6.4 yards per attempt with a 78.6 rating.

“They’ve been solid against the run and they have been really successful against deep passes,” Eaton said. “You can see how their corners can intimidate opponents at times. Every now and then you see those dropped passes where it’s obvious that receivers are rattled from all the contact and all the hits earlier in the game."

3) Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson can be sneaky dangerous.

Heading into the draft, Wilson faced questions about his height – he’s 5-11 – and whether he’d be able to see over defenses and create proper throwing lanes. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll looked past that and saw a guy who was consistently smart, efficient, driven and poised.

Yes, Seattle signed Matt Flynn to a huge contract in the offseason with the belief that he’d be their quarterback of the future. But Flynn is dealing with an elbow injury and Wilson won the starting job outright anyway with an training impressive camp and preseason.

The rookie out of Wisconsin via N.C. State hasn’t set the world on fire in his first eight starts. He has a .614 completion percentage and has thrown for just 1,466 yards with 10 TDs and eight picks. Overall, Seattle ranks 31st in passing offense (171.1 ypg).

But Wilson has shown he has a presence that his teammates respect.

“His demeanor is so even keel,” Eaton said. “And he has such a level head. It’s been impressive to see the way he came in here and just owned the position from the get-go.”

Oh, and the rookie quarterback has shown he has that clutch gene. He led late game-winning touchdown drives against Green Bay and New England. In last week’s loss to Detroit, he engineered a 12-play, 87-yard march that put the Seahawks ahead 24-21 with 5:27 left. And in the season opener against Arizona, a 20-16 Seattle loss, Wilson took the Seahawks from their own 20 to the Cardinals 4 before three incompletions in the end zone finished the game.

“From what he’s shown, he has an obvious ability to deliver in big moments,” Eaton said. “And you have to figure as young as he is he’s going to keep getting better.”

Former Viking Sidney Rice remains Wilson’s most potent target. Rice has 28 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s been their most consistent receiver so far,” Eaton said.

4) The Seahawks defense isn’t impenetrable.

With a three-point lead in the final minutes Sunday, Seattle was picked apart by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who led a methodical 16-play, 80-yard TD march. Stafford completed 10 of 15 passes on the drive, dismantling the Seahawks with a dizzying array of short passes. The game-winner was a 1-yard pass to Titus Young. That was the sixth completion on the drive for less than 8 yards.

And that may be a bit of an Achilles’ heel for a defense that has been solid just about everywhere else.

“At times, it seems those short passes and those dump offs have given the Seahawks substantial trouble,” Eaton said. “It’s hard to figure why that is. But you saw it with the Lions, all those short-little gains. They found that weakness and exploited it with a bunch of quick-hitters.”

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Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 0 1st Qtr 5:24
San Francisco 7
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
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New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
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Oakland
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Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
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Houston 31
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Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
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Los Angeles 4
Colorado 2 3rd Prd
Buffalo 0
Philadelphia 5 2nd Prd :53
Toronto 3
Ottawa 1 3rd Prd
Montreal 2
Washington 2 3rd Prd
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 0 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 0
Florida 1 2nd Prd 3:55
Pittsburgh 2
NY Rangers 0 3rd Prd
Carolina 1
Chicago 1 3rd Prd
Columbus 1
Nashville 3 2nd Prd
Minnesota 2
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
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Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
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IUPUI 71
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North Carolina 82
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Providence 85
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Villanova 82
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Virginia Tech 64
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Binghamton 51
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Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
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Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 77
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
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Coll of Charleston 68
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Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 2nd Half 0:43
Akron 92
NJIT 83 2nd Half 0:38
Central Conn St 74
Hofstra 63 2nd Half 4:31
Columbia 73
Boston Univ 55 2nd Half 7:45
Dayton 64
Iona 60 2nd Half 4:17
George Mason 68
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 48 2nd Half 5:41
Kansas State 61
Morgan State 68 2nd Half 0:25
Manhattan 70
Saint Josephs 72 2nd Half 1:40
Marist 55
East Carolina 49 2nd Half 2:47
UNC-Wilmington 57
Richmond 60 2nd Half 2:50
Pepperdine 54
La Salle 57 2nd Half 3:55
Towson 41
Incarnate Word 62 2nd Half 5:34
UMKC 63
CS-Bakersfield 48 2nd Half 7:37
Idaho State 44
Iowa 30 2nd Half 14:14
Northern Iowa 33
Milwaukee 35 2nd Half 15:55
SIU Edwardsville 31
Long Beach State 27 1st Half 3:48
Texas 37
TX-San Antonio 26 1st Half 0:50
TCU 39
SE Missouri St 10 1st Half 12:13
Arkansas 16
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
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Weber State
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Northern Colorado
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Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
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Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
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Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
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Air Force 31
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
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Rice
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Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
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UCF
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Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
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Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
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UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
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San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 69 2nd Half 0:39
Tennessee St 70
Saint Louis 43 2nd Half 12:29
Utah Valley U 35
Washington 30 2nd Half
UC-Riverside 42
Pacific 17 1st Half 3:52
Long Beach St 18
Old Dominion 36 1st Half 1:09
Miami-Ohio 32
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
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Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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