1. A "different Kirk" on third downs
The Vikings and Kirk Cousins played with unusual confidence and crispness on third downs, converting 9 of 14 attempts while more than doubling their season conversion percentage in Sunday's 30-17 win over Seattle at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings went into the game converting 30.77%. Sunday, Cousins was outstanding on third downs, completing 8 of 10 passes for 76 yards, one touchdown and six first downs. He even overcame a red-zone holding penalty on Garrett Bradbury to throw a 15-yard touchdown strike to Adam Thielen on third-and-13.
"I told him right after that play, that was good timing," Thielen said. "That ball was on me right when I broke. I think if it's a little later, that safety has a chance to smack me so it's a tougher catch. He's been like that all year. It's been a different Kirk. He's been locked in and on time."
2. Four penalties? No problem
In eight quarters since they opened with 12 penalties and one turnover at Cincinnati, the Vikings have committed seven penalties with no turnovers. They had four penalties for 40 yards on Sunday. Nary a one threw the Vikings off kilter. Besides Bradbury's red-zone holding call, special-teamer Josh Metellus was flagged for holding on a punt return, Everson Griffen got a ticky-tack roughing-the-passer nudge, and the Vikings purposely took a delay of game before punting in the closing seconds. After Metellus' penalty, the Vikings drove from their 15 to a 34-yard field goal. Griffen's roughing penalty was followed by Seattle turning the ball over on downs. Meanwhile, Seattle's four penalties were more costly. A defensive holding penalty on Ugo Amadi turned what would have been a sack and a three-and-out into a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that turned a 17-7 Seattle lead into a 17-14 ballgame.
3. Wilson showing his age outside the pocket
He's still an elite quarterback, but let's just say Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson doesn't move like 24-year-old Kyler Murray or a 24-year-old Wilson. Wilson left the pocket just seven times. He ran a bootleg for a 17-yard pass to DK Metcalf on the game's first play. After that, Wilson went 0-for-3 passing and ran three times for 2, 1 and 4 yards while outside the pocket. On third-and-11, he was pressured by tackle Sheldon Richardson and threw the ball away. On third-and-3, he was pressured by nose tackle Michael Pierce, an outstanding pass rusher for a run-stopping nose, and again threw the ball away. He spun out of the pocket on the fourth-down deep ball into the end zone late in the game. The receiver, Penny Hart, was open briefly but Harrison Smith closed quickly and broke up the pass to essentially end the game with 2:28 left.
4. Wilson-to-Lockett deep ball squashed
Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett had a chance to tie an NFL mark shared by Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice and Dwight Clark. Those guys all had 100-yard games with at least one touchdown in three consecutive games to start a season. Lockett had done it in back-to-back games. Sunday, he was invisible, except when he left the game briefly with what at first looked like a serious knee injury. Lockett finished with four catches on four targets for 31 yards and a long of 15. Wilson came into the game with a league-leading 146.9 passer rating and four completions of 40 yards or more. His longest completion Sunday was 39 yards. "We tried [to take away the deep ball]," coach Mike Zimmer said. "They didn't hit one. They almost got that one late in the ballgame that Harry knocked down or something."
5. Mattison gets the job done
No one will ever confuse Alexander Mattison with Dalvin Cook, but Mattison proved the Vikings can win with him touching the ball a Cook-like 32 times. Mattison didn't score, but he was responsible for eight of the team's 28 first downs. The first two were via the passing game with catches of 20 and 23 yards. The next six came on the ground and included runs of 8 yards on second-and-6, 12 yards on first-and-10, 3 yards on second-and-1 and 3 yards on third-and-1. Mattison's 112 rushing yards tied his career high, also coming against Seattle. He added 59 yards receiving on six catches. Most impressive was how he and the offensive line wore down Seattle's front seven in the second half. Mattison's two fourth-quarter first downs were runs of 24 yards on first-and-10 and 13 yards on second-and-6. He's no Dalvin, but he's a winning back.