SEA-MIN grades: Defense fuels Seahawks' close win
Here are the top-graded players and most noteworthy performances from the Vikings’ heartbreaking 10-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks:
–Some players just seems to love playing on a big stage, and Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett (+8.9 PFF game grade) is most definitely one of them. Much like he did in last year’s Super Bowl, Bennett put on a tour de force of defensive line play in this one. He caused problems for the Vikings line, whether lined up inside or outside, with his ability to beat tackles and guards really something to behold.
–This was not a great day for quarterback Russell Wilson (-2.1), who struggled with the conditions and his accuracy all day. Of course, his game will be remembered for a pivotal completion on a broken play that helped ultimately lead to the team’s victory, but if Wilson doesn’t play better going forward then the chances of a third Seattle Super Bowl appearance are low. He completed just three passes all game long that went over 10 yards in the air, and he consistently missed on his deep shots.
–It can be hard, in a game like this one where the opposing quarterback is being very careful not to make mistakes, for a defensive back to make a big impact on the outcome. So credit goes to safety Earl Thomas (+2.7), who made a couple of big plays where he showed off his incredible range and speed to the ball. He was as impressive as fellow safety Kam Chancellor was bad (his forced fumble notwithstanding), however; can Chancellor, coming off a disappointing -3.7 grade, most of which came due to his struggles in coverage, get things straightened out in time before his face-off with Carolina tight end Greg Olsen next week?
DE Michael Bennett (+8.9)
DE Cliff Avril (+6.0)
S Earl Thomas (+2.7)
LG Justin Britt (+2.3)
CB Richard Sherman (+1.9)
–Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s performance (+1.5) can be best described as solid but unspectacular. He did a great job of handling the pressure brought by Seattle’s pass-rushers, took care of the ball and completed an impressive 70.8 percent of his pass attempts. But just one of those completions, on four attempts, traveled over 10 yards in the air, as he took what the defense gave him. Rarely did he attempt to make a game-changing play in this one.
–One Vikings player who was spectacular was defensive end Everson Griffen (+7.7), who gave Seahawks tackle Russell Okung (-3.6) an awful time. Griffen ended up with a sack, three hits and four hurries, and his work in the run game was just as impressive. Rarely did he end up where the Seahawks wanted him to be, and were it not for a couple of missed tackles (after beating blockers), his grade would have been even better.
–This was not the day star running back Adrian Peterson (-2.2) probably imagined for himself. He struggled to get much going against a fearsome Seattle defense, limited to 45 yards, and he also struggled in the passing game. It was there that he made his biggest contributions (for the wrong reason), where his loose handling of the ball saw him fumble before getting beat for a quarterback hurry late in the game. His trademark power and explosion were not present, either, making this a performance to forget.
DE Everson Griffen (+7.7)
DE Danielle Hunter (+3.0)
DT Linval Joseph (+3.0)
S Harrison Smith (+2.7)
DT Shariff Floyd (+2.0)