SEA-MIN grades: Defense fuels Seahawks’ close win

Here are the grades for Minnesota's heartbreaking 10-9 Wild-Card loss to Seattle, which featured standout play from Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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:

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?

Top-graded performances

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)


Minnesota Vikings

–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.

Top-graded performances:

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)

  • Steven Macks

    One offensive player in the top five for either side. Seems pretty fitting.

  • McGeorge

    The Vikings did much better than I expected.
    Forget about Walsh’s missed field goal for a moment – I wonder if they win if AP doesn’t fumble. AP has a fumbling problem and a fumble is worth -45 yards added to a RBs cumulative stats. AP cost his game in the playoffs in 2009 when he fumbled 2-3 times when Favre was their QB.

    Russel Wilson does have magic, but he’s mortal and also makes mistakes. A very good QB for sure, but not elite, despite having a very good year.

    • Tim Edell

      In Wilson’s defense it is tough to throw a football in those conditions.

    • David Stinnett

      Even Rodgers has put up stinkers on occasion. Not just this year. Remember Buffalo. No one is perfect.

    • KWS13

      Yes, take note NFL, we have confirmed the exact sure fire formula to make Russell Wilson play poorly in the playoffs every year- pair impeccable all around defense with a driving rainstorm or sub zero temperatures.

      I agree he played poorly in general, but let’s maybe consider giving him some slack

    • Parkway

      AP’s fumble only led to a FG, if I remember right. Not sure, I was in a state of shock while freezing my ass off in the stands, after that happened.

      Wilson’s jail break throw for 30+ was a much bigger play, probably the biggest of the game in terms of win probability for SEA.

    • JudoPrince

      “A very good QB for sure, but not elite….”

      No QB in the history of the game has had more impressive start to his career. He has posted a 100, 101, 95, QB rating in each of his first 3 years, topping them all with a league leading 110 rating this year. He has a Super Bowl ring, two conference titles and top notch playoff performances under his belt. Keep in mind he has put up these unbelievable numbers without stud receiving options his entire career, other than Baldwin this year. Even in a -2 degree game on the road against a quality defense, he finds a way to make the game deciding plays.

      I’m not a Hawks fan, but the question of whether Wilson is one of the best – if not the best in the league – ended a long time ago. Time for you to catch up.

      • McGeorge

        He also makes mistakes that counteract some of his great plays.
        And he blew last years super bowl at the end of the game.
        You can’t just say he won this or that or accumulated some stats, you also have to look at those key costly mistakes.
        Time for you to drink up.

        • osoviejo

          Looking forward to your list of flawless elite quarterbacks. Use a second sheet if needed.

          • McGeorge

            RW isn’t elite, though he did have his best season.
            Elite QBs are more consistent. And they perform at an elite level for a longer time.

            If RW performs like he did during the regular season for a couple of more years, then you have a good case.

          • McGeorge

            Was Russel Wilson elite yesterday?

            He made some great plays and some poor ones that cancelled them out.
            H’es good , not elite.

      • HeWhoKnowsAll

        Totally agree with you, other than that he did nothing to decide the -2 degree game. Bridgewater decided that game, and a shitty hold by a shitty punter (Jeff Locke) and a kicker (Walsh) lost it for him. Seattle was lucky our punter sucks.

    • Brandon

      If him being stellar this year doesnt bump him to elite, then does that mean that manning is still elite despite having a bad year? Wilson has done nothing but succeed and now that hes missing run support hes actually been better than he has ever been. Ignore the fact that he doesnt throw as much as guys like Rodgers, hes accurate, he throws few interceptions while still throwing the ball deep fairly often, and hes basically had the best career in his first four seasons of any qb ever.

      How many qbs would you really take over wilson at this point?

      • HeWhoKnowsAll

        He’s elite, without a doubt. 38 TDs and 8 INT is elite. 68% completions and 8+ yards per completion is elite. 110 QB rating, and 4000 yards, is elite. And I’m a Vikings fan… Wilson is a top 5, he’s “elite”.

    • BruceN

      Not sure why everyone is all over AP about the fumble. That wasn’t a careless fumble. He was being tackled by 2 Seattle defenders, one pulling on one arm and the other, Kam Chancellor, yanked the ball away forcefully from his other arm.

      • McGeorge

        A fumble by a running back is extremely costly, worth around 45 yards on average.
        Ball security is under rated.
        AP does have a fumbling problem.

      • HeWhoKnowsAll

        I thought it was pretty bad. He was waving the ball around, instead of keeping it tight.

    • Tony Daley

      You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. AP had 125 yard rushing and 3 TD’s and NO TURNOVERS in the 2009 NFC Champ Game… check the stats! Favre had 2 INT’s and 1 Fumble. Yes AP fumbled 2 but none were lost… never hurt the team. Get your facts straight! Favre killed that game for us not AP!

      • HeWhoKnowsAll

        Favre also created that season. Before him, TJack was failing in every respect of being a QB. But yes, Favre killed us in that game.

  • NAJ

    Replace Greenway with someone who can actually run (sign B Irvin/draft LB?) and Sendejo with anything other than a scarecrow that he is (start A Harris?) and this defence is going to be scary next year. Just hope Vikings sign or draft a big bodied WR who can win 50/50 balls regularly. Diggs is good but he’s a great #2, not a true #1

    • Craig W

      O line first. Loadholt can’t be depended on. I’d like to see an o-lineman in the first round and safety in the 2nd. LB is less important considering how much nickel we play. Barr and Kendricks will be on the field for nickel. Sendjo needs to go. The only spots we 1 o-line, 2 safety, 3 possession receiver and 4 two down LB.

  • Craig W

    No matter who you cheer for it is such a disappointing way for a game to end. MN deserved the win. AP has horrible all day. Bridgewater is going to have to improve for this team to win. AP proves every time he is in a playoff game he can’t be depended on.

    • James Winslow

      AP has always been overated, I remember him fumbling three times against the saints in the playoffs. And everyone wanted to blame brett favre for the loss.

      • Tony Daley

        You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. AP had 125 yard rushing and 3 TD’s and NO TURNOVERS in the 2009 NFC Champ Game… check the stats! Favre had 2 INT’s and 1 Fumble. Yes AP fumbled 2 but none were lost… never hurt the team. Get your fact straight!

        • James Winslow

          The third was a botched snap between his and farve I guess they didn’t credit him for it. Also fumbling the ball is still bad it doesn’t matter that it was lost. You don;t want your running back putting it on the ground twice., the fact that the vikings recovered it twice was fortunate to say the least.

          • Tony Daley

            All true but the fumbling issue is overblown. And most don’t even know the facts just like you. I mean blaming AP for the 2009 Saints loss instead of Favre or Percy Harvin is insane. Look at the top running backs in history of the NFL and you will find that
            AP fumbles less per carry than many of the greats. Even guys like Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, on and on… just look at the facts before making comments.

          • James Winslow

            Yeah but three fumbles in a game especially a playoff game is not good regardless, you can’t dismiss that. Also the NFL is different today, with it being more offensively focused/passing oriented, and thus is less forgiving on turnovers.

          • Tony Daley

            Two fumbles not three… you keep wanting to blame him for more than you should. And neither fumble hurt the team in any way… you shouldn’t dismiss that. The more a QB or running back is asked to do with the ball the more chances of a turnover. Favre threw an INT every 30 passes Eric Dickerson fumbled every 38 carries. AP fumbles much less than many of the greats… look it up. I’m not dismissing the fact that fumbles hurt and the one in the Seattle game stung but for as much as AP handles the ball its all overblown.

          • James Winslow

            Yeah, but in this league the fumbles kill you now with all the rule favoring the offensive game. Ed dickerson can get away with it as you were going to turn over the ball no matter what back in the day. I think peterson is a great player but he has had a lot of down moments in the playoffs. and needs to step up his game, in that time of the year.

          • Tony Daley

            4 playoff games for AP and only 1 turnover in those 4… not bad. The Saints game was just plain weird. It was an indoor game in a dome yet between the 2 teams there were 2 INT’s and 9 total fumbles… How does that even happen? Crazy! I agree that he needs to work on it. No fumbles would be great but I know that will never happen. He did have some fumblitis early in his career but got it under control as he only had 11 fumbles in his previous 5 seasons before this year. Not sure why he fumbled 7 times this season. Maybe the year off in 2014 hurt that part of his game. I am confident he will be fine this coming season.

    • Parkway

      All offensive players were “horrible” that day, but it’s just the nature of the climate/weather. There were maybe a handful of great Offensive plays, I could count them on one hand.


    Supposedly Vikings going after UFA RT Jordan Mills From Buffalo. Pass protection was horrible this season, but they still needed to take advantage of scoring opportunities and it eventually came back to bite them that they didn’t.

    • Craig W

      I agree on both points. No one stepped up in the redzone to get a TD instead of 3 FGs earlier in the game. The Vikes didn’t put the game away and let Seattle get back in it.

    • Tim Edell

      Jordan Mills is not a starter in the NFL!! That is why he was cut by the Bears and has bounced around the league. He was PFFs 62nd ranked OT on the year. They will be much better off hoping Loadholdt can get back healthy or Clemmings can make a second year jump.

  • dlund6cutler

    Dayem, I feel for Blair.

    • HeWhoKnowsAll

      Jeff Locke might (just kidding) … that was a terrible hold, it didn’t have a chance.

  • enai D

    Dear Seahawks-

    You’re welcome.

    Blair Walsh

    • Craig W

      lol, somehow this will get credited to Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater won’t get credit for the game winning drive he made happen in negative degrees. Teddy doesn’t always look good, but he has drove us down a few times late this year. I think with these O-line signings we are looking really strong next year. The division is ours. Mr. Rodgers time is over.

      • enai D

        They were already giving credit for the win to Russell Wilson, the day after this debacle happened. Awesome/typical revisionist history by the dumb-as-shit national sports media.

        • enai D

          But yeah I agree, Rodgers time is over, and its long overdue- this division is ours for the next 5-10 years.

  • Brandon

    How did you grade Griffen so high? He absolutely blew quite a few tackles and was fairly consistent in being out of place or chasing the wrong guy every single time the seahawks ran the read option, allowing big gains.