SEATTLE - The Seahawks took the lead on a swan dive in the final minute of the first half Sunday.
“I put myself out there,” receiver Golden Tate said.
Actually, he put himself way up there. Tate took off at the 2-yard line and had his legs knocked out from under him when Minnesota defensive back Josh Robinson hit Tate’s right knee. Tate was flipped headfirst toward the end zone when the football crossed the goal line, with officials ruling he scored his second touchdown of the game before losing control of the ball.
It was a fitting way to take the lead, since the Seahawks turned their recipe for success upside down in a 30-20 victory over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field.
The defense that has been Seattle’s strength allowed 17 first-half points and gave up 182 yards rushing to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson while the offense that has been the Seahawks’ biggest liability came back from two first-half deficits and finished with a season-high 30 points.
Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns in the first half, Marshawn Lynch ran for a season-high 124 yards and scored in the second half and a week after Seattle lost two fourth-quarter leads in Detroit, the Seahawks found a way to stiffen in the second half.
“I was real proud of how hard we played and how tough we played and how we responded at halftime,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We put together a really good second half, particularly improved on defense.”
It must be mentioned that Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder was particularly awful, too. He completed 11 passes in the game for 63 yards and was sacked four times. Minnesota’s 44-yard net passing total was the fewest by any Seattle opponent in 14 years.
Of course, the Vikings didn’t have to pass in the first half as Peterson did everything but leave skid marks as he sped over Seattle’s defense. He gained 74 yards the second time he touched the ball, and totaled 80 yards on Minnesota’s first drive against a Seahawks defense that allowed an average of 84.9 yards rushing over the first half of its season.
Seattle had not allowed an opposing running back to rush for more than one touchdown in two years. Peterson had two touchdowns in the first 20 minutes. Minnesota took a 7-0 lead on his first touchdown, and tied the game 14-14 on his second scoring run. When Vikings kicker Blair Walsh made a 36-yard field goal with 5:25 left in second quarter, Minnesota led 17-14.
The Seahawks responded with an 80-yard scoring drive that culminated with Tate’s headfirst dive for a touchdown, and while Seattle missed the point-after kick, the Seahawks took a 20-17 halftime lead and never looked back. Beginning with that drive for the go-ahead touchdown, Seattle outgained Minnesota 261 yards to 72 the rest of the game and outscored Minnesota 16-3.
It was unquestionably Seattle’s most complete offensive performance of the season. Wilson was efficient, completing two-thirds of his attempts and never turning over the ball. The running game was relentless, Seattle rushing for 128 of its season-high 195 yards in the second half.
And all of a sudden, this offense that was held to fewer than 20 points in five of the first six games has totaled 54 the past two weeks.
“I definitely believe we are getting more comfortable,” Wilson said.
Receiver Sidney Rice scored a touchdown, Tate had two and Seattle was able to run out the final 5:27 with one last time-consuming drive.
“Looking forward to us keeping on rolling,” Rice said. “Opening up the offense, we’re running the ball really well. We’re throwing it downfield. We’re making plays at receiver. This is what we’re capable of doing every week.”