Adrian Peterson made one of the best defenses in the league look lost. Whether he was running in between the tackles or going to the edge, Peterson galloped through Seattle's defense like no one has in more than three years.
It was in other areas where the Vikings could not match what Peterson was doing.
"Adrian is a beast. Adrian was amazing today. He should get tomorrow off and we should all go to work," Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said. "It is just embarrassing, two weeks in a row and it is absolutely embarrassing. I apologize to our fans; we have to get this thing fixed."
Peterson ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns, his best game since 2008, but Minnesota could not overcome three first-half touchdown passes by Russell Wilson and 124 yards from Marshawn Lynch in Seattle's 30-20 win on Sunday that could have greater implications later in the season.
Minnesota lost for the third time in four games and this one stings more because of how dynamic Peterson was in the first half. He went for 74 yards on the second play of the game, getting tracked down at the 1-yard line before scoring two plays later. His 144 yards on 12 carries was the best first half performance of Peterson's career. He had runs of 74, 24, 16 and 15 in the opening 30 minutes.
And then he disappeared. Peterson had just five carries for 38 yards in the second half with 28 coming on one run. His last carry came with 13:06 remaining and the Vikings trailing 27-20. In the final 11:49, Minnesota had possession for all of 56 seconds.
"Usually when we run as well as we ran the ball today, that's a good sign for our football team, all the way around. We weren't able to capitalize on a terrific day by him, a great day," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said. "To run the ball as well as he did against the fifth ranked rushing defense in our league and to not come away with more as a team is disappointing."
Seattle ran out the final 5:27, converting a pair of fourth downs and relying on the legs of Lynch while Peterson was left to watch.
"I always want the ball more," said Peterson, who had his best day since running for 192 vs. Green Bay in the 2008 season. "That's just my mentality, especially when I'm hot, but I go out and do my job no matter what the play call is."
While Peterson was mostly a second-half spectator, the Vikings tried to get Christian Ponder going. It was a failed attempt, as Ponder was just 4 of 9 for 21 yards in the second half. No Minnesota receiver had more than 14 yards receiving and Peterson was the leading receiver with three catches.
Ponder finished 11 of 22 for 63 yards and was sacked four times. He threw an interception in the fourth quarter when Minnesota barely held possession despite entering the quarter trailing just 27-20. It was the second time in three games that Ponder failed to top 70 yards.
"The past couple games it's been one-dimensional. We've seen what the passing game can do, early on in the season. We just got to get back to that," Ponder said. "We're good at throwing the ball, we've got good receivers, we've got good blocking for me. I just got to keep doing a better job of getting the ball in their hands. This offense isn't one-dimensional. We've shown that the past couple games, but we can throw the ball and we're going to figure it out and we're going to win in the end."
The matchup between the top two rushers in the NFL didn't disappoint, with Peterson's elusiveness causing headaches for Seattle's defense and Lynch's bullying runs giving headaches to the Vikings.
Lynch had a 3-yard TD run in the third quarter to give Seattle a 10-point lead. He ran for 69 yards in the second half and added two receptions that included a key 24-yard screen pass that led to Steven Hauschka's 40-yard field goal with 6:23 left and a 30-20 Seattle lead.
"His physical style. There were a couple of times I said to myself, 'Nice move, nice cut or whatever,'" Peterson said of Lynch. "He does a great job of being physical, and that's what I'm all about, so he has my utmost respect."
The difference turned out to be Wilson, Seattle's improving rookie QB. Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns to Golden Tate and another to Sidney Rice. His 11-yard strike to Rice in the first quarter came when Wilson bought time moving out of the pocket then found Rice sprinting across the back of the end zone.
Tate later caught a 6-yard touchdown before making a highlight reel leap that nearly became disastrous. Tate took a short screen pass, danced away from a couple of defenders near the line of scrimmage, then jumped over Minnesota cornerback Josh Robinson at the goal line, just getting the ball over the line before it was knocked loose on a big hit by Everson Griffen.
Wilson finished 16 of 24 for 173 yards and didn't throw an interception for just the second time in his last six games.
"To have the capability to play a certain way and to get smoked in your own house then come back and get smoked again, guy's mindsets have to change," Allen said. "From top to bottom, from coaches down to the quality control guys it's time to get this thing rolling and get back to what we were doing well."
Notes: Peterson's yards rushing were the most allowed by Seattle since Frank Gore went for 207 in 2009. ... Seattle LB K.J. Wright left in the first quarter with a concussion. ... Seattle now owns tiebreakers in the NFC over both Minnesota and Dallas.
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