Seattle Seahawks

“We got our mojo back”: Russell Wilson, Seahawks dominate Vikings, 38-7

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) dives for a eight-yard touchdown run as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antone Exum (32) defensive tackle Tom Johnson (92) try to bring him down in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 in Minneapolis.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) dives for a eight-yard touchdown run as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antone Exum (32) defensive tackle Tom Johnson (92) try to bring him down in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 in Minneapolis. AP

Richard Sherman was standing over fallen wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the end zone with his hands on his hips. Sherman was glaring at him after an incomplete pass.

Earl Thomas was salsa dancing after his return of an interception.

“Oh, that was my guitar,” the All-Pro free safety said later, smiling and strumming an air one at his locker.

Seahawks special-teamers Eric Pinkins and Mike Morgan were taunting the booing, hissing Minnesotans behind the end zone after throttling a kickoff returner.

Doug Baldwin was kissing his index finger and pointing it triumphantly to the fittingly gray Minnesota sky.

And all that was just in the first half.

The defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks’ swagger was back – and the NFC North leaders got the ugly brunt of it Sunday. Three more touchdown passes plus one rushing by rampaging Russell Wilson, and a swarming Seahawks defense that decisively dominated league rushing leader Adrian Peterson and the Vikings, led Seattle’s 38-7 annihilation at TCF Bank Stadium.

It wasn’t even that close.

The Seahawks (7-5) had 433 total yards to just 125 for Minnesota (8-4). Seattle’s edge in yards rushing over the NFL’s top-ranked running game: 173-31. Its bulge in first downs: 25-9.

“It felt like the Super Bowl game again, the one against Denver. Just attack mode,” Thomas said.

That figures. This 31-point win was the Seahawks’ largest since that 43-8 win over the Broncos for Seattle’s first NFL title that ended the 2013 season.

Undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls continued to fill injured Marshawn Lynch’s lead-back role exquisitely, bulling for 101 yards on 19 carries for his four triple-digit rushing day. And the Seahawks won their third consecutive game to strengthen their hold on a wild-card playoff spot -- while holding Peterson to 18 yards on eight carries.

Yes, Thomas Rawls out-gained Adrian Peterson 101-18. That’s how decisive this Seahawks’ victory was.

“We are playing the guy who leads the league in rushing -- and he only had 18 yards. That definitely speaks volumes,” Seattle All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said over blaring bass of rap music in the visiting locker room on the University of Minnesota’s campus.

"When defense is playing the way we play and the offense is playing the way they are playing right now, there's really not a team that can beat us.”

Peterson and the Vikings (8-4) certainly were no match. Peterson spent the last 8 minutes of the third-worst rushing day of his career hidden on the sidelines under a cape.

Meanwhile, Wilson was wearing one on the field. Again.

Wilson continued his brilliant stretch that is matching that of his protecting line that has suddenly transformed from woeful to wonderful. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 274 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 146.0 passer rating.

In these last three wins over San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Minnesota, Wilson has completed 66 of 86 passes (76.7 percent) for 879 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a three-game passer rating of 148.2.

A perfect rating is 158.3.

“We’re playing up to our standard,” Wilson said of the two-time defending NFC champions, who are now 13-2 in December the last three seasons.

Baldwin went beyond that about his quarterback.

“He’s playing out of his mind,” Wilson’s favorite target said.

Baldwin has five touchdowns in two games. When was the last time he’d done that?

“Little League,” he said.

“We got our mojo back this week,” Baldwin said, alluding to practices that coach Pete Carroll said had a changed tempo and freshness that was a first in his Seattle regime.

Wilson threw 6 yards on an easy rollout and flip pass to Fred Jackson to make it 28-0 early in the third quarter. The quarterback appeared to make it 34-0 with a 53-yard touchdown run later in the period, but officials called tight end Luke Willson for holding 10 yards down field.

As Carroll was berating those officials so much he was throwing his headset along the sideline, Wilson went to 53-yard TD Plan B: An exquisitely thrown ball to Baldwin on a post route. Back on the sideline, Carroll was smiling so broadly you could see the gum in his mouth from the press box, Sherman was tapping his wrist as if wearing a watch – and the Seahawks led 35-0.

Minnesota’s only score came on the ensuing kickoff. Cordarrelle Patterson ran it back 101 yards. He spent the final 30 yards of the return doing a Deion Sanders-like hand-behind-the-helmet, then with the ball in the air and some high-stepping. Patterson appeared to be the only man in this state not knowing or caring the home team was down 35 points.

His return gave him 5 fewer return yards than the Vikings had in total offense through 3½ quarters.

Wilson also had his first rushing touchdown of the season, 8 yards in the second quarter. That made it 14-0. And the rout was on. Very on.

It got so good for Seattle – and so bad for Minnesota – that the Vikings had first and 38 midway through the third quarter.

That was moments after Peterson spiked the ball in anger following a screen pass to nowhere, on which he got devoured by three Seahawks while the back’s blockers stood nearby watching the mauling.

“Frustration,” linebacker K.J. Wright.

The Seahawks’ offense continued to right what wronged them over the first seven games of the season. The Seahawks converted six of their first seven third downs and nine for 13 in all. Seattle is 24 for 40 on third downs the last three games. That rate of 60 percent was at just 37 at the start of last month. They scored touchdowns on their first two trips into the red zone and were 3 for 4 scoring TDs inside the 20 on Sunday. Seattle is 9 for 11 scoring touchdowns in the red zone, after being last in the league at 27 percent well into October,

Does this romping through the Upper Midwest prove a point that the Seahawks -- after all their issues and starts of 2-4 then 4-5 -- are ready for another of their late-season rampages into the playoffs?

“You tell me,” Sherman said, grinning.

“Once we get in a rhythm we know we’re a hard team to beat. We know we have a championship pedigree. We’ve been there.

“We know what we are capable of.”

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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