MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Even as Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh trotted out for what his coach called a “chip shot” game-winning field goal try, ever-optimistic Seattle coach Pete Carroll kept right on believing his Seahawks weren’t done yet.
Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds, keeping the Seahawks’ dreams of returning to the Super Bowl for a third straight season alive with a 10-9 victory over the Vikings in the wild-card playoff game on Sunday at frigid TCF Bank Stadium.
After making three field goals in the first three quarters, Walsh’s try to win the game missed to the left badly, and the Seahawks (11-6) moved on to face top-seeded Carolina next weekend.
“We were still talking like something good was going to happen, all the way through the kick,” Carroll said. “And he missed it. There was a lot of believing and a lot of hope at that time when it was all but hopeless.”
That’s been the season for the Seahawks. They started 2-4, dealt with safety Kam Chancellor’s holdout and just didn’t look like the same team that won the Super Bowl two years ago and were inches away from winning it again last year. But Chancellor is back and made a big play on Sunday, Russell Wilson found just enough magic on offense and the Seahawks survived the third-coldest game on record in NFL history, with a kickoff temperature of minus-6 degrees.
“We’re fortunate. Very fortunate to get that,” said Russell Wilson, who was 13 for 26 for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception. “Like I said, anything can happen in the playoffs as we know. Keep believing and fortunately it went our way today.”
Steven Hauschka’s 46-yard field goal was the only other scoring for the Seahawks.
Here are five things to know about the game:
THE GREAT ESCAPE: Vikings coach Mike Zimmer compared Wilson to “Houdini” in comments to reporters during the week, and never was there a better example of that than early in the fourth quarter. Wilson wasn’t ready for a shotgun snap on first-and-10 at the Minnesota 39 that sailed through his hands.
He dropped to a knee to pick it up 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage, sprinted right to avoid a sack with two Vikings in close pursuit, then found Tyler Lockett wide open around the 30. Lockett ran all the way to the 4 to complete a 35-yard gain, by far the longest of the game, and set up Wilson’s touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin that finally put the Seahawks on the scoreboard with 11:37 remaining in the game.
“It just seemed like a whole bunch of bears chasing you,” Wilson said. “You’re just trying to get away.”
BABY, IT’S C-C-C-C-C-OLD OUTSIDE: Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, a native of Los Angeles who played at Stanford, was confident the cold wouldn’t bother him until, oh, pregame warmups when he felt his contact lenses and eyelashes start to freeze.
“It was like sitting in a freezer, honestly,” Sherman said.
Many of the Seahawks wore huge capes and huddled around heaters when they weren’t in the game. Wilson found throwing deep particularly challenging. He had Baldwin wide open in the second quarter behind the safeties at the goal line, but the ball hung in the wind and was easily batted down.
“But it’s no excuse,” Wilson said. “You have to find a way to win.”
PETERSON’S FUMBLE: Walsh was hardly the only Viking to blame for another gut-wrenching playoff defeat. Peterson’s fumble problems returned in the fourth quarter when he coughed one up after catching a pass for a first down. The turnover led to Hauschka’s field goal that put the Seahawks in front and ultimately proved to be the game-winning kick.
“I look back on that and say that if I don’t put that ball on the ground, they’re not able to get that field goal and take the lead,” Peterson said. “That’s something that will haunt me throughout the offseason.”
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES: The Seahawks burned all three of their first-half timeouts early in the game, the result of some miscommunication and difficulties getting the plays into Wilson. Carroll said they had issues with the headsets and communication during the game, perhaps because it was so cold.
“We lost our sequencing in there,” Carroll said. “Went in and out a couple times right in the middle of the call and Russell didn’t have a call and he had to wait for the call to come. The headsets didn’t respond, so we just got stuck a couple times.”
BUD GETS TOUGH: The toughest guy on the field on Sunday? Had to be 88-year-old Bud Grant.
The Hall of Fame Vikings coach was an honorary captain for the game. He walked out to midfield for the coin toss wearing just a Vikings short-sleeved golf shirt and a purple Vikings cap. The crowd was never louder than when he was introduced, and he waved to them as he made the walk on to the field.
“That’s not anybody, that’s Bud,” said Carroll, who coached under Grant in the 1980s. “He was right at the time. Just doesn’t make any sense at all now.”
AP Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this report.
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