As a 23-year-old rookie, Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes in Seattle’s 30-20 victory over the Vikings on Nov. 4, 2012. And he hasn’t slowed down since.
The quarterback, now in his 10th season with the Seahawks, has appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one, and been named to seven Pro Bowls. He also hasn’t let up in his domination of the Vikings.
The Seahawks have beaten the Vikings seven straight times, all with Wilson at the controls. He also has led Seattle to wins over Minnesota in the regular season in 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and in a playoff game after the 2015 season.
Wilson will try to make it 8-0 when the Seahawks (1-1) visit U.S. Bank Stadium at 3:25 p.m. Sunday for Minnesota’s home opener. The Vikings (0-2) are going for their first win over Seattle since a 35-9 victory at the Metrodome in 2009.
“It’s not ideal,” Vikings safety Harrison Smith, a rookie in 2012, said of all the losses to Seattle. “(Wilson’s) made some great plays in those games, so he’s a big part of that success. … We have to find ways to win.”
At least the Vikings are feeling better about one thing. After losing to the Seahawks at Lumen Field in each of the past three seasons, they finally get to play them at home.
“I thought they signed a contract for us to go over there,” quipped running back Dalvin Cook. “It’s been crazy. … We’ve been dealing with their fans quite a bit, so now it’s time for them to deal with ours.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there actually were no fans at Seattle’s 27-26 victory over Vikings in Week 5 last season at Lumen Field. Facing fourth-and-goal at the Vikings’ 6-yard line, the Seahawks won on a touchdown pass from Wilson to D.K. Metcalf with 15 seconds left.
That was the second-most painful loss the Vikings have experienced against Seattle. In the playoff game at then-named TCF Bank Stadium, the Seahawks won 10-9 when Blair Walsh shanked a 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds left.
“Each game is different,” Mike Zimmer said of the five losses he has absorbed at the hands of Wilson since taking over as Vikings coach in 2014. “We missed a field goal in the playoff game. We got them in fourth-and-10 last year (and) fourth-and-6, and they convert twice (on the final drive).”
One thing that usually hasn’t been different is Wilson coming up big against the Vikings. In his seven games against them, he has thrown for 14 touchdowns.
Wilson did have a career-low 72 yards passing in a December 2018 game against Minnesota, but he made up for it by rushing for 61 yards in Seattle’s 21-7 win. After the game, Zimmer fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo for not running the ball enough.
In a December 2019 game, the Vikings were prepared to run but Cook suffered a chest injury that sent him to the bench midway through the third quarter in Seattle’s 37-30 win. Then in last year’s game, Cook got hurt again, knocked out on the first play of the second half with a groin strain.
“We have had a few in Seattle,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said of the losses there. “Tough place to play, so being at home will be outstanding.”
With the NFC North Vikings playing the NFC West Seahawks for the fourth straight season, co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson joked that “we might as well be in their division.” But Patterson knows it will be no joke trying to contain Wilson, who in Seattle’s first two games has completed 40 of 54 passes (74.1 percent) for 597 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Patterson said of Wilson, who will be making his first Minnesota appearance since that epic playoff game. “He manages their whole offense. … He’s a tremendous challenge for us on Sunday.”
At least the Vikings have some players now who have actually been on teams that beat the Seahawks. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was with the New York Giants last season when they recorded a 17-12 upset at Seattle. And when Patrick Peterson played for Arizona from 2011-20, the Cardinals went 8-11-1 against division foe Seattle.
“It’s always a fun battle whenever I have the opportunity to go against Russell Wilson,” Peterson said. “There’s greatness in front of you whenever you line up across from a guy like that. I put him in that same boat and era as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning.”
At least Peterson sees one possible advantage now in going against Wilson, 33. He might not be quite as mobile as he once was.
“It just gives us that little bit more relief knowing that he’s a little more cautious in taking off with the ball versus trying to make that big play down the field,” Patterson said.