This game was supposed to be about quarterback play. It has been. It was supposed also to be about superior QB play from Daunte Culpepper. That has and has not been the case.
While Daunte has thrown some nice passes--particularly a low pass for a first down in the red zone--and while Daunte has judiciously left the pocket to pick up first downs (2.5 out of 3 times counting the close measurement that left the Vikings third and inches), he has also had some highly unspectacular moments.
Most notable among these unspectacular moments has been Daunte's reversion to throwing the ball deep no matter the coverage and despite openings in the short game; Daunte's poor clock-management and seeming inability to run a two-minute offense; and Daunte's penchant for either going for it all or making a play that has no chance for picking up a first down (when he has the option to run for a first down) on 3rd down.
While Daunte's mistakes have hurt the Vikings in the first half, the same can be said of Seattle's QB Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck, like Culpepper, has nice first half numbers. But the numbers, like Daunte's, are more the consequence of abysmal defense than they are the result of sparkling QB play. Had Hasselbeck not forced a ball to Darrell Jackson, a forced pass that resulted in an unlikely interception for the otherwise much-maligned Brian Williams, and underthrown a few passes this game might already be out of reach for the Vikings.
And even at that, the game migh already be out of reach for Minnesota, not because the offense cannot make up the one point by which the Vikings trail at halftime. No, the problem for the Vikings is that their defense is nearly incapable of stopping Seattle (or probably any team). And there is really no one place to point the finger.
The most obvious culprits of the Vikings' poor defensive performance in the first half have been the familiar faces--Brian Russell, Brian Williams, Chris Claiborne, and Corey Chavous. I would add the other linebackers to that group, but I first would need to check the lineup on each play to see who is playing the other linebacker positions, because, as poorly as Claiborne is playing (see Seahawks' easy third TD), he is at least visible on most plays. The other Viking linebackers might as well be up in the booth for what they have contributed. Just abysmal.
And if the Vikings cannot stop anyone--and there is no sign that they can do so--one point and the ball is plenty. And that is what Seattle has entering the second half of this charade.
The Vikings have had constant success running to the right and up the middle. They need to continue to pound the ball in the second half and refrain from taking the harmless deep shots that Culpepper has found so appealing in the first half despite the lack of an open receiver. If the Vikings can force one stop--a huge "if"--the Vikings can win on the back of the running game. This assumes a dedication to running right, however. And it assumes that Tice ditches the plan to rotate running backs and simply sticks with what has worked--SOD.