MINNEAPOLIS -- For the first time in three years, the Seattle Seahawks are on the road in the playoffs. And instead of their 12th Man, they've found a formidable challenge in the Minnesota Vikings' home-field advantage: Old Man Winter.
The conditions at TCF Bank Stadium -- a minus-6 temperature at kickoff -- turned the first half of Sunday's NFC wild-card game between the Vikings and the Seahawks into a test of which team can run more of its typical offense in the elements. During the first half, that was the Vikings, who ran Adrian Peterson 14 times and complemented him with a steady diet of quick passes. Peterson had only 31 rushing yards in the half, but 20 of them came on four second-quarter carries. And without Marshawn Lynch, Seattle hasn't been able to control the game on the ground, holding the ball for just 11:30 in the first half.
The Seahawks declined to try a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter, instead going for it on fourth-and-14. Russell Wilson's last pass of the first half -- a deep ball with Doug Baldwin matched up against a safety -- hung up in the wind, turning a would-be touchdown into a Harrison Smith breakup. And Wilson had to burn two timeouts in the first half because of the Vikings' defensive looks.
Minnesota has split Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter outside the tackles on several third downs, using Anthony Barr as a spy to keep Wilson from running. Wilson took advantage of Griffen's aggressiveness a couple of times, including on one read-option run where both Griffen and a linebacker bit on the fake. But the longer the quarterback is unable to find big plays, the more the game plays into the Vikings' hands.
We'll see in the second half whether the Vikings can beat the Seahawks in the cold and secure a trip to the desert to face Arizona next weekend.