MINNEAPOLIS – The good news is that meteorologists are predicting a high of 48 degrees next Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
The much better news is that that forecast is miraculously relevant to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks survived the blistering cold, a late and nearly fateful drive, a series of botched snaps and an aggressive attack from the Minnesota Vikings’ defense to escape with a 10-9 victory in an NFC wild card game in front of 52,090 rugged fans at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
The victory earned Seattle a date next weekend with the Carolina Panthers – the No. 1 seed in the NFC after a 15-1 season.
The game ended in wild fashion when Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal – badly – that would’ve iced the game for Minnesota with 20 seconds to play.
Seattle sputtered through the first three quarters of the game, struggling against the cold and shooting itself in the foot repeatedly as it fell behind 9-0.
A broken play early in the fourth quarter helped turn the tide. Wilson was forced to run for his life after recovering bad snap, but he managed to break free and get off a pass to Tyler Lockett, who went 35 yards and set up a 3-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin two plays later with 11:37 to go.
Seattle took the lead for good a few minutes later. Safety Kam Chancellor stripped Vikings running back Adrian Peterson with 10:37 to go, and Steven Hauschka banged home the go-ahead field goal with 8:09 to play.
It was the third-coldest playoff game in NFL history, and it showed.
The Seahawks’ offense struggled through much of the game, with Russell Wilson completing a very un-Russell-Wilson-like 13 of 26 passes for 142 yards and that all-important touchdown.
Seattle’s defense, however, had little trouble slowing Minnesota – at least when it had half a chance to do so. The Vikings’ first field goal of the game came after a botched snap on a Jon Ryan punt attempt gave them the ball on Seattle’s 29 yard line.
It set the stage for a long three quarters in which all three of the Vikings’ field goals were set up by Seattle mistakes.
It looked as though Seattle would be going home for good after the Vikings put together a drive in the final minutes – highlighted (or, rather, lowlighted) by a controversial 19-yard pass interference call on Chancellor that helped put Minnesota in easy field-goal range.
But Walsh’s kick wasn’t even close, sailing wide left to send the gobsmacked Seahawks to Carolina.
Seattle gave up a nine-point lead to the Panthers in Week 6 of the regular season, eventually losing 27-23.
The Panthers will play host to the Seahawks at 10:05 a.m. on Q13 FOX.