It will be about 100 degrees warmer this evening at CenturyLink Field than the last time the Seahawks met the Vikings.
The wind chill hit minus-25 that day in January when the Seahawks came away with a 10-9 wild-card playoff win that was clinched when the Vikings’ missed a short field goal with only 22 seconds remaining.
At the time, it seemed a matter of luck. After all, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh had made more field goals during the season than anybody in the NFL. He couldn’t miss a 27-yarder -- shorter than an extra point. But he did. The Seahawks survived and advanced, and were then hammered by Carolina the next week in the divisional round.
But the win over the Vikings was historic -- the Seahawks had won only one of their previous 10 road playoff games. And the previous season, they had been lousy in two road losses at the poles of the meteorological spectrum -- a 100-plus scorcher at San Diego and a below-zero chiller at Kansas City.
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As they thawed in the aftermath of the win over the Vikings, to a man, the Seahawks claimed it was mental toughness and not luck that got that win for them. They trailed 9-0 in the fourth quarter, but didn’t see futility and head for heated benches.
“Here’s 53 guys willing to fight until the last second,” Richard Sherman said. “A lot of people would have folded it up and said, ‘That’s it.’ But we’ve got a team full of fighters.”
Looking back over the notes from that game, any number of plays proved Sherman’s contention.
One of the best was a leaping one-handed catch by Doug Baldwin of a high pass from Russell Wilson. It would have been a highlight-reel catch on a mild day in September, but on a frigid day in gusty Arctic winds? It seemed impossible. It was a 17-yard, third-and-long conversion that infused life into the frozen Seahawks’ offense.
Wilson also turned a botched snap late in the game into a dagger, retreating to recover the ball, dodging what seemed a sure 15-yard sack, and firing the ball to Tyler Lockett for a 35-yard completion. Pete Carroll had a word for it: “Magic.”
Punter Jon Ryan showed his toughness, too, scooping up a low snap and trying to leap over an on-rushing defender. The defender hit him in the air, though, and Ryan plunged to the frozen turf like a lawn-dart, breaking his nose. But he returned to punt and also hold Steven Hauschka’s placekicks.
And when Kam Chancellor forced an Adrian Peterson fumble well downfield, it was a hustling, 325-pound Ahtyba Rubin who was there to recover.
Finally, Walsh’s missed game-winner seemed good fortune for the Seahawks, but they had a hand in the miss, though. Sherman nearly blocked an earlier field goal with a hard rush around the end. It looked as if Walsh rushed that final kick out of fear of another Sherman charge.
Maybe the Seahawks were drained from the effort in Minnesota the next week at Carolina when they fell behind 31-0 at half. But the win at Minnesota has to remain very special to these guys.
Chancellor said that the challenge of the weather seemed to pull them together. “The more you thought about going out and competing with your teammates, and having fun with them, the less you thought about the cold,” Chancellor said.