MINNEAPOLIS – With Seattle well in control at Minnesota, Russell Wilson raced around left end for 53 yards.
Holding by the Seahawks wiped out the touchdown, so he passed for a score on the next play.
At just the right time, Wilson and the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks have found their rhythm.
Wilson threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, Seattle’s defense didn’t allow a score, and the surging Seahawks won their third straight game Sunday with a 38-7 romp over the Vikings.
“Everybody’s fired up on the sidelines. It’s special to watch. It really is,” said Wilson, who has passed for 11 touchdowns without an interception, and an average of 293 yards with a 76.7 completion rate during the winning streak.
Doug Baldwin had two touchdowns and 94 yards receiving and Thomas Rawls rushed for 101 yards and a score as the Seahawks (7-5) did whatever they wanted against an injury-depleted Vikings defense. Rawls, who has 712 yards, has the most rushing yards by an undrafted player in his first six career starts since the 1970 merger.
Seattle had 433 yards to Minnesota’s 125, the lowest total by any NFL team this season, according to STATS.
That all starts with Wilson.
“It’s hard to even explain how he’s playing. It’s just phenomenal,” Baldwin said. “He’s trusting the line, staying in the pocket, making his reads. He’s delivering the ball with stupid accuracy, and it’s unbelievable to watch.”
Following a 2-4 start, with losses by a total of 17 points all to teams that were undefeated at the time, the Seahawks have climbed deeper into the playoffs picture.
“It’s a grind, you know? We faced a little bit of adversity at first,” Rawls said, “but I think we’re on schedule.”
League rushing leader Adrian Peterson was limited to 18 yards on eight carries, the third-lowest single-game total of his career, and the Vikings (8-4) needed a 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter to keep from being blanked.
“We were outcoached in so many ways,” Peterson said, frustrated by the lack of carries. “And outplayed as players.”
The Vikings fell back into a first-place tie with Green Bay for the NFC North lead three days after the Packers beat Detroit on a desperation pass on the last play. The Vikings, who lost 30-13 to Green Bay in their previous home game, took their most lopsided loss in Minnesota since a 34-3 defeat by Chicago on Nov. 25, 1984.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer hinted he saw signs of a clunker coming in practice during the week.
“We’re not quite as good as we think we are,” Zimmer said.
Wilson, who finished 21 for 27 for 274 yards, was in command in the pocket and at his elusive best when the rush came. He netted 51 yards on nine rushes.
The Seahawks had touchdown drives of 81 and 98 yards in the first half, fueled by penalties, missed tackles and overruns by the Vikings.
On the first march, a holding call on Terence Newman saved the Seahawks from a punt. Linebacker Anthony Barr (groin) and safety Harrison Smith (hamstring) limped off with injuries, too. With nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot) already ruled out, the Vikings were suddenly without their most indispensable player at each level of the defense.
It sure showed.
The Seahawks’ star-laden lineup on defense, vulnerable at times this season, backed Wilson with a clutch performance. Teddy Bridgewater’s overthrown pass for Stefon Diggs late in the second quarter was intercepted and returned 25 yards by Earl Thomas, Diggs took a facemask penalty and the Seahawks had the ball at the 20 with 68 seconds remaining before halftime.
Wilson dropped back, saw Baldwin open and, boom, put the Seahawks up 21-0 with another crisply thrown pass.
“He’s definitely got some elite skills,” Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Wilson should be in the mix for the NFL MVP award if he keeps on this track.
“When he plays like that we’re a very difficult team to beat,” Sherman said.
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