Seahawks escape with 10-9 win over Vikings after Walsh miss

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MINNEAPOLIS — Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks needed more than three quarters to warm up at Minnesota.

Then, the Vikings kicked away their chance to beat the two-time defending NFC champions.

Blair Walsh‘s 27-yard field goal try into the frigid wind hooked left with 22 seconds remaining, handing the Seahawks a 10-9 victory over the stunned Vikings on a Sunday afternoon in their wild-card round playoff game in below-zero weather that tied for the third-coldest NFL game on record.

The Seahawks (11-6) didn’t score until Russell Wilson’s short touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin early in the fourth quarter, and a fumble by Adrian Peterson for the Vikings on the next possession set up a field goal by Steven Hauschka.

The Vikings (11-6) took the ball back with 1:42 left at their 39 and, aided by a pass interference penalty on Kam Chancellor, drove deep into Seattle’s territory. After draining the clock for the seemingly inevitable win, Walsh missed the winner. He made all three of his earlier attempts.

Seattle will play next weekend at Carolina, where the Panthers had a first-round bye in balmy mid-50s weather.

Huddled around sideline heaters and wearing huge capes, the Seahawks sideline on the shaded side of the stadium was a largely lethargic place for much of the game. Trailing 9-0, Wilson nearly took a huge loss on first down when he fumbled a shotgun snap. But the quarterback who Vikings coach Mike Zimmer called “Houdini” during the week darted right and found Tyler Lockett wide open for a 35-yard completion to set up the score to Baldwin.

Chancellor, who ripped the ball away from Peterson, quickly became the goat after his penalty and subsequent missed tackle on tight end Kyle Rudolph‘s 24-yard reception to the 18. But Chancellor and all of his “Legion of Boom” buddies were amazingly celebrating a few seconds later after Walsh’s miss.

Replays showed the laces on the ball were turned in – instead of facing out – by holder Jeff Locke.

The Seahawks left their last visit to Minnesota with a 38-7 victory, pure domination on both sides of the ball that left no doubt that Dec. 6 afternoon they’d be a legitimate contender to reach their third straight Super Bowl even without the ear-splitting advantage of their home by the bay at CenturyLink Field.

For all their skills, experience and swagger, though, the combination of these conditions and a well-prepared, embarrassed-by-the-previous-performance Vikings team proved to be quite the challenge for the Seahawks.

This was a fittingly frigid finish for Minnesota’s two-year stint outdoors at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium during construction of the new covered downtown stadium. For the first au naturel postseason game here since the NFC championship game in 1976, the grizzled coach of that team, Bud Grant, served as an honorary captain. He strolled out for the coin flip in a Vikings cap and a purple short-sleeved polo shirt, looking ready for a round of golf.

The 88-year-old Grant got a roar of approval from the crowd, most of which was dressed in as many layers as those purple replica jerseys would allow. The announcement of the minus-25 degree wind-chill factor a few minutes later drew an equally loud cheer.

Every mistake and break was magnified in a game like this, and the Vikings were the benefactors for the majority of the first three quarters.

Punter Jon Ryan had to pick up a low snap on Seattle’s first possession and, avoiding a potential block, tried to run up the middle before being upended by Jason Trusnik well shy of the first down. Ryan landed on his face, bloodying his nose, and the Vikings turned the shortened field into their first field goal.

Wilson, who led the NFL in passer rating after racking up a remarkable 24 touchdown passes with only one interception over the last seven games, was essentially reduced to a scrambler in the deep freeze. He had to run around a lot, too, against a relentless defense that was missing three key players in the previous matchup but back to full strength for this one.

The Seahawks, who scored 30-plus points in six of their last seven games, were all out of sorts on offense, with trouble getting some of the plays off in time.

Facing the wind in the second quarter, Wilson had Baldwin wide open behind the safeties at the goal line, but the ball hung in the air and was easily batted down. Headed the same direction toward the open end of the stadium in the third quarter, Wilson overthrew Chase Coffman, and Trae Waynes intercepted the deflected pass to set the Vikings up for another field goal. Cliff Avril‘s roughing-the-passer penalty gifted Minnesota 15 yards on that drive.

 

Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip

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HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback

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HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

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