1. The Vikings had no chance once they fell behind 14-zip
No, the Vikings are not going to win many games when running back Adrian Peterson is held to 18 rushing yards. But they could barely move the ball once the Seahawks made them one-dimensional. The Seahawks were able to generate pressure against the shaky Vikings offensive line while rarely blitzing. And with an effective four-man pass rush, they could man up on the outside and drop several defenders into zone coverage. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater didn’t dare test the Seahawks downfield. Instead, he too often settled for check-downs and shorter throws and prayed for plays after the catch. That wasn’t going to work against Pro Bowl safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and Seattle’s speedy linebacker group.
2. Linval Joseph was a big loss, both literally and figuratively
Joseph, the chiseled 6-4 and 330-pound nose tackle, sat out the blowout loss because of an injured foot. That meant the Vikings were without their most important run defender against one of the few teams that have actually toted the rock more often that they have this season. Joseph is a versatile player, capable of either taking on multiple blockers to clog up the middle or disrupting plays by shooting gaps. Without him in the middle, though, the Seahawks had success running between the tackles, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on those runs, per Pro Football Focus. And on a few occasions when one of the defensive ends crashed to overcompensate, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson kept the ball and had easy access to the outside.
3. The Vikings had no choice but to stray from Adrian Peterson (right)
If Peterson wants to stay on the field when games get out of hand, something he has grumbled about twice in the past three weeks, perhaps he should become a more rounded player. He is no doubt a Hall-of-Fame talent as a ballcarrier. But he is one of the NFL’s least reliable backs in pass protection, and his accidental chip of left guard Brandon Fusco, instead of Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark, led to a first-quarter sack. As a receiver, Peterson does not have soft mitts or a knack for creating separation, which is why Jerick McKinnon ended up out-snapping him Sunday. There is no doubt he’s their best weapon in the tight games they prefer. But unlike, say, Le’Veon Bell or Matt Forte, he can’t help much when behind by three touchdowns.