Bud Grant stepped on the field at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday to visit with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and exchange a few words with his old friend and former Vikings assistant. Watching them speak, you got the impression Carroll was in a confident mood regarding Sunday's game.
Certainly, Carroll didn't expect his team to run up a 38-7 score on the Vikings, but he sounded sure of a victory. Carroll said he believed the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks have rebounded well from an early-season slump that saw them lose four of their first six games.
"We have a very good team," Carroll told Grant, feeling good after beating the Steelers 39-30 last week in Seattle. Then he added: "I'm sure we are going to make the playoffs."
And after the game, Carroll said this was as complete a game as he had ever seen.
"I don't know how we could expect to hold them down as well as we did," he said. "No points against the defense today and 120-something [yards], whatever it was. That's a huge day. It was a great player back there running the football, too; we were thrilled with that. We were able to run it and throw it today, so we were able to do the things we wanted to do. It was a really good day for us in all areas."
It's hard to understand the Vikings, who appeared to bounce back from their 30-13 home loss to the Packers on Nov. 22 by dominating the Falcons in Atlanta in a 20-10 victory on Nov. 29, only to follow that with Sunday's poor performance.
Seattle outgained the Vikings on offense 433-125, held Adrian Peterson to 18 rushing yards on eight carries and would have had a shutout were it not for an otherwise meaningless 101-yard kick return by Cordarrelle Patterson after the Seahawks had already built a 35-point lead.
Russell Wilson put on a super display both running and passing as the Seattle quarterback completed 21 of 27 passes for 274 yards, three touchdowns and a superb passer rating of 146.0, and he also rushed nine times for 51 yards and one touchdown.
On the other side, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had no chance to match Wilson. The Seahawks defensive line completely dominated as Bridgewater was hurried most of the game and sacked four times.
This is linebacker Chad Greenway's 10th season with the Vikings. Only three other times in his career has his team been dominated as thoroughly as it was Sunday, and all the other losses were to the Packers: 34-0 in 2007, 46-7 in 2011 and 42-10 2014.
The Vikings defense had at least some excuses for its inability to stop the Seahawks, as several key players were not available. The absence of Linval Joseph, likely the best nose tackle in the league, really hurt because his contributions have been fantastic, and safety Andrew Sendejo also didn't dress.
Then linebacker Anthony Barr, who is having a fantastic year, and safety Harrison Smith were hurt early on.
It also didn't help that the Vikings had nine penalties for 95 yards, several coming in key situations. They hurt themselves just like they did in the Packers game, when they had 110 yards in penalties.
Overall, the defense is really beat up. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman refused to blame injuries for the one-sided game, though.
"We've had guys go down on both sides of the ball. That is no excuse," he said. "Guys play with injuries, that's no excuse. That's why there's as many players as we have on our team. It has to be next man up. That person has to understand you have to come in and there can't be any drop-off. That just gives that person a chance to make plays."
Newman was most upset about the Seahawks' ability to run the ball so easily. Seattle ran for 173 yards even with star Marshawn Lynch injured.
"We pride ourselves on stopping the run. That way we can put them into difficult situations," he said. "But they were able to run the ball and able to throw the ball. Defensively, we didn't do a dang thing to help this football team today."
Newman was impressed by Wilson, saying: "He made plays with his feet and his arm. He's out there playing good, making great plays for his team and buying time for his receivers to get open and making great runs with his legs."
Things do not get easier for the Vikings, as they have only three days to get ready for a great Arizona Cardinals team on the road.
"I'm just hoping guys are a little mad tomorrow, mad until Thursday night after our game," Newman said. "We need to go to work, get some work done and get it done. We have to prepare. We just have to get back to our drawing board and do what we did."
Need to win at home
Greenway was asked how his team can play so well at Atlanta and then fall on its face against Seattle.
"It's just a frustrating loss," he said. "We need to win these home games. You can't really excuse it away. You just have to know we didn't play very good at any phase of football. It just wasn't very good today, they beat us pretty handily."
What did Greenway see from Wilson? "Russell Wilson is a tough player, he's obviously very good back there at moving around, a tough team to beat," he said. "Hopefully, we get another chance at them, sometime."
Asked if the Vikings got frustrated as the game went on, he said: "I think it was pretty steady throughout the day. We didn't put much of a fight on a lot of second- and third-down situations to get off the field. They just were methodical with their drives, had some big plays.
"Penalties, we didn't help ourselves much with the penalties today, which is kind of indicative of how we played against Green Bay. We kind of shoot ourselves in the foot, which is stuff we hadn't really done. But we can't let that become us as the season continues to grind on. We obviously lost the handle and it was an ugly game. We don't want that to be who we are. I don't think that's the kind of football we've been playing and want to continue to play. But the reality is we lost pretty poorly, a poor effort by us. But we have to move on and continue to stride ahead and get a win after a loss, which we've done."
Asked if this is the best team the Vikings have faced, Greenway said: "Well, we certainly made them look that way. You have to tip your hat to them and the way they played. Just their personnel and what they do, and today they just played better than us."
And Seattle isn't even leading its own division, still trailing Arizona by three games.
"Obviously it's the NFL and you have to continue to move forward and you can't let one game become two," Greenway said. "So we have to kind of clean this one up, move on quickly because we have the Thursday game.
"We're at Arizona, and it's going to be a tough game for both teams. We have to move on quick and give them our best shot."
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org