Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
The Seattle Seahawks routed the Minnesota Vikings today at CenturyLink Field by a score of 41-20. The Hawks won big, but this game wasn’t as easy as the final score would seem to indicate. With 48 seconds left in the first half the Vikings had just kicked a field goal to pull within 4 points of Seattle at 17-13. As I was watching the game on TV I was thinking that with only 48 seconds left Seattle would likely just sit on the ball and pick it up when they received the kickoff to open the second half.
I thought wrong! Like the Vikings, I failed to take into account the Percy Harvin factor.
Harvin, who was Seattle’s major off season acquisition, is a dynamic pass receiver and kick returner. He has missed the first 10 weeks of this season with a hip injury that required surgery in August. Since then, while the Hawks were piling up wins Harvin was piling up rehab time. He made his Seattle 2013 debut just a few minutes earlier in this game with a spectacular catch of a Russell Wilson pass for a first down. Earlier in the week, once it had become apparent that he was healthy enough to play against Minnesota, Harvin started trying to persuade head coach Pete Carroll to let him return a kick. Understandably Carroll was reluctant to do so. Seattle is about to go into the stretch run to the playoffs and they need a healthy Percy Harvin.
But now, with 48 seconds left in the half, who did we Hawks fans see fielding this kickoff following the Vikings field goal? None other than Percy Harvin. To be fair to Carroll, he didn’t just cave in to Percy. Had the regular returner Jermaine Kearse not sustained a concussion earlier in the game Harvin would not now be fielding this kick. But Kearse did and so there Harvin was. Still, you would think that the Vikings would know better than to kick the ball deep to Harvin. After all, he had spent the first four seasons of his career with them and they had witnessed what he was capable of. 
But, kick to Harvin they did.
Drifting to his right, about 4 yards deep in the end zone, Percy caught the kickoff and started running up field. About the ten yard line he broke back towards the center of the field, found a wide open lane, and turned on the afterburners. Harvin is one of those guys who, when he is at top speed, makes it seem that the players around him are moving in slow motion. He returned that kickoff 58 yards, finally going down at the Minnesota 46. With 40 seconds left in the half and two timeouts available Russell Wilson and the Hawks now had field position and sitting on the ball was the last thing on their mind.
On first down Wilson handed off to Robert Turbin who gained five yards and the Hawks used one of their remaining time outs. Wilson then hit Turbin with a pass for twelve yards and a first down. With 27 seconds left on the clock, Seattle used its last time out. On the next play Wilson found tight end Zach Miller over the middle for ten yards and, as seconds ticked away, he hurried his team to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball to stop the clock. Unbelievably, after all that, there were still 16 seconds showing and Seattle had a second down at the Minnesota 19. There was time for one more play and it had to be a pass to the end zone. With no time outs, if a player was tackled on the field, the clock would expire before the Hawks could get off another play.
That was the situation Russell Wilson faced when he came to the line of scrimmage and surveyed the field and the Vikings defense in front of him. Split wide to the right for the Hawks was Doug Baldwin, and to Baldwin’s left, in the slot, was Percy Harvin. From the shotgun, Wilson took the snap as Harvin and Baldwin streaked straight up field toward the end zone. For the briefest of moments Wilson looked at Harvin, thus freezing Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo in the process. Meanwhile Baldwin had gotten by Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings cornerback covering him, and was about to come free in the end zone. Now looking back toward Baldwin, Wilson released a beautiful throw that cleared Rhodes and got to the Seahawks receiver in the right corner of the end zone, at the top of his jump and right before Sendejo, who was doing his best to recover from Wilson’s look-fake to Harvin, could get there.
As Hawks announcer Steve Raible would say… “Touchdown Seeeahawwwks!”
That Wilson to Baldwin TD pass right before the half was the blow the Vikings would not recover from in this game. In the second half the Hawks would intercept Viking quarterback Christian Ponder twice and his replacement Matt Cassel once, with Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond returning one of the picks for a touchdown. As a result of the turnovers Seattle had short fields which they turned into points and the route was on.
As great as this win was, what may end up being more important is that for a few brief moments, at the end of the second quarter of this Seahawks game against the Minnesota Vikings, we Seattle fans got a chance to see what we have been missing with Percy Harvin injured and on the sidelines.
He is back just in time.
The Hawks have a bye this coming week but then on Monday night, December 2nd, the NFC South leading New Orleans Saints come to town for what will be the biggest game of the season to that point. Today the Saints did Seattle a favor by defeating the San Francisco 49ers, thus putting the Hawks 3 games up in the loss column on their NFC West rivals. The 9er loss virtually assures that Seattle will win the NFC West title. To assure home field advantage through the playoffs, however, The Hawks need to beat the 8-2 Saints.
With Percy Harvin at full strength, catching Russell Wilson passes and returning kickoffs, I expect they will.
Copyright © 2013
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved
 During his 4 seasons for the Vikings Percy Harvin returned 5 kickoffs for TDs and was fourth in the league in all purpose yards