SEATTLE – Bobby Wagner leaped over the line of scrimmage, swatted Dan Bailey’s field goal attempt and sparked the Seattle Seahawks to two late touchdowns.
Whether or not what Wagner did was entirely legal, he didn’t care.
“I’m not stressing about that. I made the play. They called what they called,” Wagner said. “There’s times in games where things happen all the time. I’m not stressing on it. It was a big block and we’ll definitely take it. It was amazing.”
Wagner’s block midway through the fourth quarter was the catalyst in a 21-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night that pushed Seattle to the brink of a playoff berth.
Chris Carson followed the blocked kick with a 2-yard TD run with 2:53 left, and Justin Coleman capped off the Seahawks’ fourth straight victory with a 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown 18 seconds later.
What was an ugly and mostly forgettable first three quarters turned into a Seattle party in the fourth as the Seahawks (8-5) moved to the brink of wrapping up a wild-card spot in the NFC. One win in Seattle’s final three games – including matchups with lowly San Francisco and Arizona – should be enough to put the Seahawks into the postseason.
“It’s really about the defense. I loved the way they played, they played so hard and so spirited,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It was almost poetic after last week’s game that Bobby would get to block the field goal and he pulled it off and did it. That was an incredible play.”
Minnesota (6-6-1) twice had scoring chances in the fourth quarter when it was still a one-score game but was turned away each time. Minnesota’s chances of winning the NFC North took a major hit with its second straight loss, but the Vikings still hold the No. 6 spot in the NFC.
“Part of it is being better on third downs. We haven’t really done a good job there. Part of it is being better in the red zone,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We had the ball on the 2-yard line and didn’t score.”
But much of the conversation centered on Wagner’s block of Bailey’s 47-yard attempt with 5:38 left and whether it was entirely legal. Wagner’s jump through a gap in Minnesota’s offensive line was fine, but it appeared he used his teammates to gain leverage, which allowed him to come through and block the kick. A flag was thrown but was later picked up by the officials.
Wagner said he attempted it four times in practice without a problem but acknowledged it could be tough to pull off the play during the fourth quarter of a tight game.
“When I did it in practice I was pretty fresh,” Wagner said.
Zimmer said he asked for an explanation of what happened but wasn’t given one. He was told he couldn’t challenge.
“Quite honestly, I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened,” Zimmer said.
Seattle took possession and Russell Wilson immediately scrambled 40 yards deep into Minnesota territory. Five plays later, Carson scored and Seattle finally had a cushion. Two plays after that, Jacob Martin sacked Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and the ball popped to Coleman, who weaved his way for the clinching touchdown.
Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 remaining, but Seattle recovered the onside kick.
“I feel like all of our losses we, as an offense, we are so slow,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “Our defense is keeping us in games. And we’re not pulling our side of the bargain.”
Wilson had one of the worst passing games of his career, completing 10 of 20 attempts for career-low 72 yards and a baffling interception late in the first half, one of the many mistakes by Seattle that allowed Minnesota to hang around. But Seattle’s ground game was outstanding against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. The Seahawks finished with 214 yards rushing, led by 90 yards from Carson.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked field goals of 37 and 35 yards to account for all of Seattle’s scoring until the closing minutes.
“If you run it 40-something times, you ought to win. That was pretty good,” Carroll said.
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