Nobody on the Vikings knows more about losing to Seattle than tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Harrison Smith.
The Vikings have dropped six straight games to the Seahawks, and all have been since Rudolph and Smith joined the team. Rudolph arrived in 2011 and Smith in 2012.
On Sunday Night Football in Seattle, the Vikings will try again to get a win in the series. They haven’t beaten the Seahawks since 2009, and their last win in Seattle was in 2006.
“I was thinking about that the other day,’’ Smith said about the skid. “They’ve always been a tough team under (head coach Pete) Carroll and they play a tough brand of football and find ways to win, even when it’s ugly, so that’s what we’re looking to do. We’re looking to find a way to win.’’
The six-game losing streak includes regular-season losses in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2019 and a playoff defeat after the 2015 season. Rudolph and Smith both missed the 2013 game due to injuries.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen has been around for five of the losses, although he only has played in three. He was on the practice squad in 2013 and missed last year’s 37-30 loss at Seattle because of a hamstring injury.
“They’re tough to beat,’’ Thielen said. “They’re well coached, they have a great quarterback (Russell Wilson), obviously, and a great offense. And that defense has been great for years. We know it’s a tough task.’’
The Vikings (1-3) are a seven-point underdog to undefeated Seattle (4-0). That’s the most the Seahawks have been favored in the series since they were a 13-point favorite in 2013 and won 41-20 at home on their way to winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
At least a few things this time aren’t going against Minnesota. The Seahawks, known for their raucous crowds, won’t have any fans at CenturyLink Field due to the coronavirus pandemic. And Seattle’s defense has been much less stingy so far this season than in previous years.
The Seahawks are second in the NFL in scoring at 35.5 points per game and just 21st in scoring defense (27.3). The Vikings are 14th in scoring (26.5) and 26th in scoring defense (31.3).
“We already know that, at least on paper, this is going to be a really high-scoring game,’’ said Cris Collinsworth, the analyst for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Bitter cold memories
Collinsworth won’t soon forget the last time NBC did a Vikings-Seahawks game. In the playoff game on Jan. 10, 2016, it was minus-6 degrees at TCF Bank Stadium, which remains tied for the third-coldest game in NFL history.
“Bud Grant coming out in a golf shirt, I’ll never forget that,’’ Collinsworth said of the legendary Vikings coach arriving for the coin flip. “That was fantastic.’’
The ending hardly was fantastic for the Vikings. Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal wide left in the waning seconds, and Seattle won 10-9.
“That game was over because it was really a chip-shot field goal, and you go, ‘OK, this is going to be Minnesota going on,’’’ Collinsworth said. “And I remember when he missed it, saying, ‘Here we are, playoff pressure football in an insanely cold temperature, and the pressure of this moment, there’s no way to practice a three-foot putt to win the Masters.’’’
- Wilson is a leading candidate for NFL MVP this season, but the Vikings have done a solid job against him the past two years. In a 21-7 Seattle home win in 2018, Wilson completed just 10 of 20 passes for a career-low 72 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Last year, Wilson completed 21 of 31 for 240 yards and two touchdowns but threw an interception on a batted ball that Anthony Harris returned for a touchdown.
- Two all-pro linebackers will meet up in Minnesota’s Eric Kendricks and Seattle’s Bobby Wagner. “First time I met him, he was just like, ‘I like watching your film,’’’ Kendricks said. Kendricks said he got to know Wagner a bit when his brother, Mychal Kendricks, played for the Seahawks from 2018-19.