With less than a minute left in the first half, Pete Carroll decided to give Percy Harvin a shot at the kind of game-changing play the Seattle Seahawks waited an extra there months to finally see.
Against his former team, Harvin made certain to deliver.
Harvin’s 58-yard kickoff return late in the first half set up Russell Wilson’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 10 seconds left in the second quarter, and the Seahawks rolled to their franchise-record 13th straight home win beating the Minnesota Vikings 41-20 on Sunday.
Harvin made his highly anticipated Seattle debut after missing the first 10 weeks of the regular season following hip surgery. While he was mostly a decoy offensively, he provided two of the biggest plays as the Seahawks improved to 10-1 and stayed on top of the NFC heading into their bye week.
Harvin pulled in a juggling third-down conversion for 17 yards in the second quarter that led to Lynch’s second TD run and gave Seattle the lead for good. Then came his kickoff return at the end of the half that helped give the Seahawks take a 24-13 lead at the break.
Wilson and Marshawn Lynch wouldn’t let Harvin’s debut take the entire spotlight. Wilson had two touchdown passes, each showing off his unique skills, while Lynch had two touchdowns running and one receiving. Wilson was done early in the fourth quarter after completing 13 of 18 passes for 230 yards and a career-best passer rating of 151.4. Coming off consecutive games rushing for more than 100 yards, Lynch was held to 54 yards on 17 carries.
Seattle put the game away with a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers on poor decisions by Christian Ponder. He threw behind Peterson and was intercepted by Bobby Wagner, the turnover that led to Wilson’s second TD pass. Three passes later, Ponder threw into the belly of Walter Thurmond and he returned the interception 29 yards for his first career touchdown.
Ponder was replaced by Matt Cassel for the final 12 minutes, and he was intercepted by defensive tackle Clinton McDonald off a deflected pass on his first possession.
Ponder played well in the first half, completing nine of 13 passes for 114 yards and a 38-yard touchdown to Jarius Wright, who badly beat Richard Sherman for the score that tied it at 10 early in the second quarter. But Ponder could do nothing in the second half with the Vikings not running a play in Seattle territory on their first five drives of the half.
Peterson finished with 65 yards on 21 carries after running for 182 yards last season in Seattle. The Vikings played without wide receiver Greg Jennings, who was a surprise inactive due to an Achilles’ tendon injury.
Harvin’s big moment was the result of Seattle being aggressive at the end of the first half. Seattle called its first timeout with 59 seconds left after Peterson fumbled a pitch from Ponder at the Seahawks 28. On third-down, Ponder threw underneath to Joe Webb, who stepped out of bounds rather than staying in and forcing Seattle to use another timeout. Blair Walsh hit from 45 yards to cut the lead to 17-13, but Seattle had 48 seconds and two timeouts to use.
Then came the moment Seahawks fans had waited for. Catching the kickoff 4 yards deep in the end zone, Harvin sprinted untouched through the middle of the Vikings’ coverage before Marcus Sherels pulled him down from behind at the Minnesota 46. It took Wilson only 36 seconds to find the end zone.
After a run by Robert Turbin and completions of 12 and 10 yards ate up Seattle’s final two timeouts, Wilson dropped a perfect pass to Baldwin and just beyond the reach of Xavier Rhodes for a 24-13 halftime lead.
Harvin was given a chance to return after starting returner Jermaine Kearse suffered a concussion earlier. The 24 points matched Seattle’s high for a first half this season having also scored 24 against Jacksonville.