SEATTLE – Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson called it a “fluke play,” but it was the kind safety Anthony Harris has made commonplace in his team-leading fourth interception Monday night during the Vikings’ 37-30 loss.
The problem for the Vikings defense is Seattle’s 444 yards are also becoming commonplace against coach Mike Zimmer’s pride and joy.
Both Zimmer and Harris, who returned from a groin injury and one-game absence, were mum when asked what went wrong on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Seattle receiver David Moore in the third quarter.
The Vikings trailed 27-17 after the score.
“Not really sure what happened,” said Harris, who was the lone deep safety on the opposite side of the field. “Those are the things we get on when we go check our film and see where things broke down.”
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes trailed Moore on the play.
“I’m not going to explain exactly what was supposed to happen,” Zimmer said. “We had a busted coverage.”
Wilson didn’t throw bombs all night, but he picked apart a secondary that spent much of the bye week focused on its uneven pass defense. Two of the secondary’s few highlights came from Harris, who had two pass deflections — the interception and a deep shot to receiver Tyler Lockett down the seam in the third quarter.
Wilson’s 240 passing yards aside, the Seahawks — who entered Monday third in the NFL in rushing attempts — ran the ball more than the Vikings defense expected, according to Zimmer. According to Harris, successful runs led to easier third downs, leading to Seattle’s 7-for-15 conversion rate.
“Just look at where you could’ve played better to give yourself a better chance,” Harris said, “see where they took advantage of certain situations. We could’ve been better early in downs. We need to find a way to make plays in situations to give ourselves a better chance.”
Harris gave his team a better chance with his first career touchdown, which put the Vikings ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.
In one of the more bizarre plays of the season, Vikings defensive tackle Armon Watts batted a Wilson pass into the air. Wilson said he then tried to bat the ball down but was hit while doing so; his deflection went straight to a charging Harris, who easily returned the ball 20 yards for the Vikings’ first defensive score since Nov. 4, 2018.
Creating more takeaways is another emphasis for this defense. Harris’ pick was the Vikings’ 18th takeaway of the season, which is tied for 12th in the NFL.
“We pride ourselves on tips and overthrows, hustling to the ball,” Harris said. “Quarterback tried to bat it down, I hustled to the right spot in the right time.”