MINNEAPOLIS — Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks have found a rhythm at the right time.
Wilson threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, Seattle’s defense didn’t allow a score and the surging Seahawks won their third straight game Sunday with a 38-7 romp over the Minnesota Vikings.
Doug Baldwin had two touchdowns and 94 yards receiving and Thomas Rawls rushed for 101 yards and a score as the Seahawks (7-5) did whatever they wanted to with the ball against an injury-depleted Vikings defense. Seattle owned a 433-125 advantage in total yards.
NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson was limited to 18 yards on eight carries, and the Vikings (8-4) needed a 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter to keep from being blanked.
The two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks climbed further into the playoffs picture following a 2-4 start. The Vikings fell back into a first-place tie with Green Bay for the NFC North lead three days after the Packers beat Detroit on a desperation pass on the last play.
The Vikings, who lost 30-13 to Green Bay in their previous home game, took their most lopsided loss in Minnesota since a 34-3 defeat by Chicago on Nov. 25, 1984.
Coming off a career-best five-touchdown performance with 345 yards passing against Pittsburgh, Wilson didn’t miss a beat by finishing 21 for 27 for 274 yards. He was at his elusive best, taking just one sack while netting 51 yards on nine rushes. The Seahawks’ star-laden lineup on defense, vulnerable at times this season, backed Wilson with a clutch performance.
Antone Exum, starting at safety for the Vikings for the second straight game because of injuries ahead of him, forced and recovered a fumble by Rawls at the Minnesota 30 on the opening possession for Seattle.
The Vikings weren’t nearly so fortunate the next time their defense was on the field. Seattle took the ball at its 19 and reached the end zone on a short but bruising and spinning run by Rawls, a 12-play march fueled by missed tackles and overruns by the Vikings — plus a third-down holding call on Terence Newman that saved the Seahawks from a punt.
During the drive, linebacker Anthony Barr (groin) and safety Harrison Smith (hamstring) limped off with injuries. With nose tackle Linval Joseph (foot) already ruled out, the Vikings were suddenly without their most indispensable player at each level of the defense.
It sure showed.
The Seahawks traveled 98 yards in 13 plays in the second quarter for a two-touchdown lead, converting four third downs. The Vikings, who entered the game with the second-fewest accepted penalties against the NFL behind the Steelers, were upset with referee Terry McAulay and his crew all afternoon. They were beside themselves on an unnecessary roughness call on Brian Robison that wiped out a first-down sack at the Minnesota 22, when Wilson tried to keep running and Robison was flagged for tackling him a second time.
The Vikings were penalized nine times for 95 yards. The Seahawks took nine penalties for 65 yards.
The officiating had no ultimate impact on this outcome, though. Teddy Bridgewater’s overthrown pass for Stefon Diggs on the next possession was intercepted and returned 25 yards by Earl Thomas, Diggs took a facemask penalty and the Seahawks had the ball at the 20 with 68 seconds remaining before halftime.
Wilson dropped back, saw Baldwin open and, boom, put the Seahawks up 21-0 with another crisply thrown pass.
Bridgewater went 17 for 28 for 118 yards.