- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The last time the Minnesota Vikings played in Seattle also happened to be the last time Percy Harvin played in a game. It was Nov. 4, 2012, when the Vikings were beginning a tricky second half of their schedule following an upset loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Harvin played that day with a strained hamstring, was taken out of the game at one point and sprained his ankle after he came back into the game. That sprained ankle, which caused Harvin to miss the final seven games of the season and wind up on injured reserve, also ushered in the end of his time in Minnesota.
But Harvin's last game with the Vikings won't be remembered just for his injuries. He screamed at coach Leslie Frazier on the sideline that day, shortly after quarterback Christian Ponder missed him on a short pass. Harvin's relationship with, or his opinion of, Ponder was reportedly one of the reasons the Vikings felt they needed to trade Harvin rather than offering him a long-term deal, though both the receiver and quarterback have said their interactions were fine. But it'd take some naivete to believe interpersonal dynamics, whether they were with the coach or quarterback, weren't at the heart of the Vikings' decision to trade Harvin to Seattle last March, especially when the 25-year-old receiver had put himself in MVP conversations early last season.
It's hard to tell so far who's better off -- Ponder or Harvin. The Vikings have shuttled through quarterbacks this season, returning to Ponder after Josh Freeman suffered a concussion, but Ponder will have to prove his dislocated non-throwing shoulder won't hinder him this week if he wants to play. And Harvin hasn't suited up yet because of a torn hip muscle that caused him to miss the Seahawks' first nine games, but he is expected to make his season debut on Sunday against the Vikings. It's always seemed hard to believe Harvin wouldn't be in uniform to compete against his old team, and assuming both he and Ponder play, both of them could come into Sunday with a little extra fuel.
Expect both Ponder and Harvin to throw cold water this week on any notion of a rift between the two of them, but this matchup, in reality, probably means more for Harvin. He hasn't had a chance to get on the field for a team that's currently 9-1, and that fact, coupled with the Vikings' 5-2 finish sans Harvin last year, suggests Harvin's teams are able to get by without him. As much as Ponder still has to prove, things might be more personal for Harvin. As it is, the story figures to be the big subplot in Minnesota this week, as both the Vikings and Harvin try to prove they're better off without the other one.