MINNEAPOLIS – Kirk Cousins helped Minnesota’s offense make some progress by passing for 182 yards in the first half, and third-stringer Kyle Sloter threw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Vikings rallied for a 21-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Friday night.
Out of sync in their previous game, Cousins and the Vikings assembled three possessions of 12 or more plays despite some disruptions by the Seahawks. Cousins went 17 for 28 without a turnover.
“You could’ve really had a great night. I feel like we just missed that,” Cousins said.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked field goals from 35 and 55 yards in the first half for the Seahawks, who kept their starters in past halftime. Russell Wilson led one scoring drive against the vaunted Vikings defense, finishing 11 for 21 for 118 yards.
Vikings rookie Daniel Carlson, who just won the kicker job this week when seventh-year veteran Kai Forbath was released, pulled two 42-yard field-goal attempts wide left in the first half. Following the first miss, Latavius Murray’s touchdown run capped the second drive. Then coach Mike Zimmer ordered a 2-point conversion.
“Just to let him know that if he’s going to miss ’em, I’m going to go for 2,” Zimmer said.
The mention of wide left against the Seahawks still makes Vikings fans wince, three seasons after Blair Walsh’s 27-yard miss in the playoff game on a below-zero afternoon in Minnesota. Walsh spent last year with Seattle, struggled anew and was not brought back. The 40-year-old Janikowski, having edged out Jason Myers for the job, has taken over.
Rookie punter Michael Dickson, who beat out stalwart Jon Ryan this week, was just as sharp as Janikowski. His five punts averaged 53.6 yards per attempt, with a long of 61 yards and two times downed at the 3.
“We did a marvelous job with the kickers tonight. I was just so proud of ‘Sea Bass’ (Janikowski) to hit a bomb and then hit another one, and Michael Dickson couldn’t have been more effective with his punts the first time out,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He was really the guy, and I’m really fired up about that.”
Chris Carson carried seven times for 26 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 20 yards for the Seahawks, who are trying to regenerate the power running attack that helped them reach two straight Super Bowls.
Rookie Rashaad Penny, who’s also expected to factor heavily in the ground game this season, broke his finger in practice last week and did not play.
The driving force behind Seattle’s NFC championships in 2013 and 2014 was the defense, which is undergoing a more significant renovation with Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman all moved on. The Seahawks are at least set at linebacker with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Wagner sacked Cousins for what would’ve been a 13-yard loss on third-and-goal at the 5, but Shaquill Griffin was called for holding Stefon Diggs during the play. Latavius Murray scored soon after. Wright delivered a jarring shoulder tackle on Diggs, who was targeted eight times. Newcomer Barkevious Mingo delivered his share of blows in the first half, too.
“I thought we played with good juice tonight,” Carroll said. “I like the way that we’re learning to hit.”
Murray took over for Dalvin Cook, who had two carries on the first drive to complete his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery last season.
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