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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

November 5, 2012 at 10:23 AM

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What we learned: Seahawks 30, Vikings 20

We'll start with a Clift Cliffs Notes version for those who don't have time to go through the list of what we learned in the Seahawks' game Sunday and what we're still trying to figure out:

• Seattle's offense isn't as bad as it was earlier in the season.

• The Seahawks defense isn't as good as it was, either.

• Quarterback Russell Wilson is getting better by the week.

• Coach Pete Carroll is not when it comes to his use of replay challenges.

That's the simplified version, but for those who want more than bullet points, here's our weekly breakdown:

Three things we learned
1) The Seahawks do have the firepower to comeback.
For the first time this season, Seattle did not score first. For the second consecutive week, Seattle rallied from two different deficits to come back and take the lead. The Seahawks' offense scored seven touchdowns, total, over the first five weeks of the season. They've scored that many in the past two games alone, scoring a total of 54 points. If the defense has become the biggest concern for Seattle, than the offense has to be the most encouraging sign.

2) Russell Wilson is a veritable Mr. Fix It.
The rookie quarterback's ability to address issues of concern and avoid repeating mistakes is the reason he's still starting. In Week 3 and 4, he was 1-for-10 passing in third-down situations, failing to pass for a first down on any of those plays. If that trend had continued, Matt Flynn was going to get a chance under center. In Week 5 in Carolina, Wilson was 9-for-10 passing on third down for 73 yards and five first downs. After seven games, red-zone offense was Seattle's most glaring weakspot, the Seahawks having been inside the opponent's 20-yard line 18 times and scored just six touchdowns. Seattle has scored touchdowns on six of its last eight red-zone possessions, Wilson throwing for three scores in the first half against Minnesota.

3) Not every NFL team has a quarterback like Tom Brady or even Matthew Stafford.
Did you get a load of Christian Ponder? He was pretty unambiguously dreadful as the Vikings finished with 44 net yards passing, fewest for a Seattle opponent in 14 years. Granted, he was under pressure, but it was the first sign that Seattle is going to be facing a different caliber quarterback in the second half of the season. Ponder will be followed by the Jets' Mark Sanchez and the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill. Not quite the same lineup as Seattle faced in the first half of its schedule, which included Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Cam Newton.

Three things we're still trying to figure out

1) What happened to Seattle's run defense?
It up and vanished at halftime of the Seahawks' Week 6 loss at San Francisco. The 49ers' Frank Gore gained 92 yards in the second half of that game, and Seattle's defense really hasn't been the same since. Minnesota's Adrian Peterson rushed for 182 yards, the most of any Seahawk opponent since Pete Carroll became coach, and the thing that was the unquestioned strength of this team the first month of the season -- its run defense -- has become a trouble spot.

2) Why Seattle's defense didn't unleash the hounds on third down last week in Detroit?
The Vikings converted three of their 10 third-down plays, a marked improvement for Seattle's defense compared to last week when Detroit converted at a 75-percent clip, the highest percentage against Seattle in eight years. The Seahawks were more aggressive on third down Sunday, their two third-down sacks in the first half both coming on blitzes. The first was by safety Jeron Johnson, the second by linebacker Bobby Wagner. Makes you wonder if Seattle would have been better off dialing up that kind of pressure last week in Detroit.

3) Why Pete Carroll keeps making bone-headed replay challenges?
Last week, he challenged a third-down reception by Detroit's Titus Young, forgetting that a penalty for defensive holding had been called on the play, giving the Lions a first down even if the play had been overruled, which it wasn't. This week, he challenged the spot of the ball on a play on the sideline early in the third quarter, hoping officials would conclude running back Adrian Peterson went out of bounds short of the first-down marker. Again, the ruling on the field was upheld. Again, Seattle lost a timeout. And while it didn't come back to bite Seattle, Carroll needs to address the rationale he uses in making replay challenges because he's wasting timeouts.

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What this Vikings fan learned is that you have a good team. You have a very good defens... MORE
I think our linebackers are leaving their gaps and abandoning their assignments/respons... MORE
Very gracious, Selanne. MORE

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