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Seattle Seahawks advance after Minnesota Vikings' Blair Walsh misses chip shot

By Dan Myers, The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 11, 2016 at 12:11 AM
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Somehow, someway, the Seattle Seahawks' march to a third consecutive Super Bowl remains alive.

Seattle, the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Minnesota Vikings 10-9 at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.

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Vikings kicker Blair Walsh had a chance to send Minnesota on to the Divisional Round, but his 27-yard field goal sailed wide left with 22 seconds remaining.

Instead, it's the Seahawks who will play the top-seeded Carolina Panthers next Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The missed chip shot was only the latest bit of good luck for the Seahawks, who overcame potential disaster earlier in the fourth, kick-starting just the second rally of its kind since the NFL merger; Seattle became the first team since the Atlanta Falcons in 1978 to rally for a playoff win when being shut out through three quarters.

Seattle also overcame historic cold; the game-time temperature of minus-6 degrees was tied for the third-coldest playoff game in NFL history. The temperature and minus-25 wind chill were the coldest in Vikings history.

"This was really a survival game for both teams," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It was an amazing defensive effort on both sides; it was one of those all-day jobs."

For most of the afternoon, the freezing temperatures kept both offenses cold.

But early in the fourth, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson made the play of the game, retreating to pick up a snap that sailed by his head. He scooped up the ball and rolled to his right about 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage and found wide open receiver Tyler Lockett in the middle of the field for a gain of 35 yards down to the Vikings' four-yard line.

"The football gods were with us today," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said.

"He just had to make something happen," Carroll said.

Two plays later, Wilson hit receiver Doug Baldwin on a quick out-route near the pylon for a 3-yard score, narrowing the Vikings' lead to 9-7.

"Sometimes, things might not be going your way, we may not be clicking on offense for whatever reason, but the score was still reachable," Wilson said. "You keep believing in one another, keep playing the play and just find a way. I believe there is no excuse and that's the mentality I play with. Just find a way and we were able to do that."

On the second play of the ensuing drive, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson converted a screen pass into a first down but had the ball ripped out of his hands by Seahawks safely Kam Chancellor. Seattle recovered the ball at the Vikings 40-yard line.

Seven plays later, Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka connected on a 46-yard field goal to give Seattle its first lead of the day.

"Missed opportunities," Peterson said. "Our defense played outstanding. Offensively, we gave ourselves a shot toward the end. Even with all the adversity throughout the game, we still had an opportunity at the end."

After trading punts, Minnesota got the ball back with one final chance at the win. With 1:42 to go, the Vikings started at their own 39-yard line; taking advantage of a 19-yard pass interference penalty and a 24-yard catch and run by tight end Kyle Rudolph to move the ball to the Seattle 18.

Minnesota gained nine more yards on three consecutive runs to set up Walsh on the left hash. The snap appeared good, but holder Jeff Locke couldn't spin the laces away from Walsh and his kick was never close.

"I can tell you this: It's my fault. I don't care if you give me a watermelon (to kick), I should be able to put that through," Walsh said. "Jeff did his job, (long snapper) Kevin (McDermott) did his job. I'm the only one who didn't do my job there. That's on me."

The miss is yet another chapter of postseason heartache for Viking fans still haunted by Brett Favre's across-the-body interception in the 2009 NFC Championship and Gary Anderson's missed 38-yard field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship. That kick also missed wide to the left.

"It's a chip shot, he's gotta make it," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

Seattle outgained Minnesota 226-183 on the day, getting 142 yards and a touchdown from Wilson on 13-of-26 passing. He also threw a third-quarter interception the Vikings turned into a field goal that made it 6-0.

Seahawks running back Christine Michael gained 70 yards on 21 carries while Baldwin added 42 yards on five receptions to go with his touchdown.

Peterson was able to muster just 45 yards on 23 carries. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished 17-of-24 for 146 yards, connecting with nine different receivers.

"We played well enough to win," Zimmer said. "This team has a lot of fight, a lot of heart. I've probably never been more proud of a football team than I am of this team."

The Vikings took advantage of a bad snap on a punt in the first quarter, taking over at the Seattle 28. But the Seahawks defense stiffened, forcing Minnesota to convert a 22-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The points were the only ones of the first half for either team, as the two clubs combined for just 185 total yards and 12 first downs.

Minnesota took advantage of a Wilson interception on the first drive of the second half, driving eight plays to set up a 47-yard kick by Walsh.

Walsh was good from with two seconds left in the third quarter for a 9-0 lead.

NOTES: Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch did not make the trip after practicing fully all week. Lynch missed the last seven games of the regular season following sports hernia surgery in November. His status vs. the Panthers is uncertain. ... Seahawks TE Luke Willson did not play because of a concussion. ... Vikings WR Adam Thielen was active after sustaining a shoulder injury against Green Bay last week. ... Vikings CB Terrance Newman left the game in the second half with an ankle injury and did not return.

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