Seahawks win battle of potent special-teams units vs. Vikings
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks entered Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings having allowed just 15 punt-return yards all season, by far the fewest in the NFL.
And when the game was over, against a Vikings team that came in leading the NFL in yards per punt return — 16.3 — Seattle had still allowed just 15 punt-return yards for the season.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said punter Jon Ryan. “And I want to keep it going.”
Minnesota also came in with the NFL’s leading kickoff returner, Cordarrelle Patterson (34.4 per attempt). But the Seahawks kept any of Minnesota returners from doing major damage in pulling away to rout the Vikings 41-20 at CenturyLink Field.
“We really respected their returners and we kept them in check for the most part,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “They had one good return (a 35-yard kickoff return by Patterson), but all in all we really answered that one.”
Jeremy Lane, who is part of both coverage units, said the Seahawks didn’t really do much different against Patterson or punt returner Marcus Sherels.
“We just did what we did,” Lane said. “Stayed disciplined.”
Ryan punted five times against the Vikings. Sherels fair-caught three, with Lane downing another at the 7.
McDonald gets his first pick
Of Seattle’s three interceptions Sunday, the most unlikely came from defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who reeled in a pass by Matt Cassel that was tipped by Chris Clemons.
McDonald, though, said he initially didn’t know where the ball was.
“It got tipped in the air and the lights caught me in the eye, and the ball fell right into my hands,” he said. “So it was a blessing in the sky.”
It was the first interception of his NFL career, and McDonald proudly noted that he got to keep the ball.
The play set up Seattle’s final points of the game, a 26-yard Steven Hauschka field goal.
Baldwin pays tribute
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin entered the field with a Filipino flag as a tribute to the nation that was recently hit with a massive typhoon. The disaster struck a personal chord with Baldwin, who has numerous relatives living in the Philippines, including his maternal grandmother.
Baldwin’s family is primarily in Tacloban in the northern part of the province of Leyte.
Baldwin said he had a few nervous moments in the last week before finding out that all are apparently OK.
“It’s been an emotional time for my family, especially my grandmother,” Baldwin said after the game. “I was able to talk to her last night, and she was emotional about it. Thank goodness all of my family is fine, so that’s good, but being able to do that and the NFL allowing me to do that, it was something special.”
The Seahawks had announced last week that the American Red Cross would have volunteers at all gates before Sunday’s game collecting cash donations to aid in the disaster relief. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation would match all donations collected.
• Seattle’s offense was basically intact Sunday with the return of right tackle Breno Giacomini, left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger.
For Okung, it was his first game since Sept. 15 against the 49ers, while Giacomini had been out since Sept. 22 against Jacksonville (Unger missed last week with a concussion).
Okung and Giacomini proved able to handle the full workload as the team did not substitute until late in the game other than rotating left guards Paul McQuistan and James Carpenter.
“It felt great to be back with all of us,” Giacomini said.
• Seattle can go into the bye feeling good about its run defense after a second straight solid outing. The run defense was a big question after Seattle allowed a combined 405 yards against St. Louis and Tampa Bay. But the Seahawks held Atlanta to 64 last week and held Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries Sunday.
“We got it corrected,” said safety Earl Thomas, adding that the Seahawks were again gang tackling and swarming to the ball as they had earlier in the season.
• Seattle’s only injury of note was a concussion suffered by receiver Jermaine Kearse on a kickoff return in the first quarter.