Since Mike Zimmer took over as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, opposing teams have not often run the ball as successfully as the Seattle Seahawks did on Monday night.
The Seahawks gained 218 yards on 43 carries and controlled the ball for 39:45 time of possession. Seattle’s performance marks just the fourth time since 2014 than an opponent has cleared 200 yards against the Vikings.
“I’m assuming we got knocked out of some gaps and didn’t get off blocks,” Zimmer said.
It was clear from the start that Seattle’s gameplan was to slam running backs Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson into the Vikings’ defense. Their first scoring drive went 14 plays and took up 8:01.
“That’s a really good front and they’ve been giving up something like 90 yards [rushing] a game and I think it’s the third week in the row that we’ve faced a top-five rushing defense and our guys continued to run the football,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “I think we ran it over 40 times tonight, which is great.”
Penny finished with 74 yards on 15 rushes and Carson had 102 yards on 23 runs, including a first down on a key third-and-1 that put the game away on the final drive.
“They kept playing 2 high shell, just super deep,” Wilson said. “They didn’t want any shots thrown on them. So we said, OK, and we’ll just run it and do what we do really well.”
With tight end Luke Wilson out, the Seahawks did something the Vikings have not seen this season: Used an extra offensive lineman. They routinely had lineman George Fant in as a tight end, giving them a size advantage up front.
“We ran it a lot and George is a big part of the running game,” Carroll said.
Of the 218 total yards, 29 came on a fake punt in which running back Travis Homer received a direct snap.
The only other games in which the Vikings have given up 200-plus running yards came against San Francisco in the 2015 opener, Carolina in Week 14 of the 2017 season and last year in a 21-7 loss to the Seahawks.
“I thought they would be throwing the ball a bit more than they did, what they’ve done in the past,” Zimmer said. “They stuck with it a lot more than I thought.”