SEATTLE — Russell Wilson found himself admiring Adrian Peterson breaking tackles and Marshawn Lynch bullying his way through a pileup.
The matchup between the top two rushers in the NFL didn’t disappoint.
The difference was Seattle’s rookie QB.
Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, Wilson threw three first-half touchdown passes, and the Seahawks overcame 182 yards by Peterson in a 30-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday that could hold greater importance later in the season.
Peterson tore through the Seahawks defense for one of the finest games of his career, yet was stuck being a spectator as Seattle slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter mostly on the legs of Lynch, with a few key passes by Wilson tossed in.
“I am a fan,” Wilson said. “Watching those two guys run the football you don’t see it too often in this lifetime.”
Those passes in the fourth quarter kept alive two long drives and capped another strong day by Seattle’s improving quarterback. Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns to Golden Tate and another to Sidney Rice. His 11-yard strike to Rice in the first quarter came when Wilson bought time moving out of the pocket then found Rice sprinting across the back of the end zone.
Tate later caught a 6-yard touchdown before making a highlight reel leap that nearly became disastrous. Tate took a short screen pass, danced away from a couple of defenders near the line of scrimmage, then jumped over Minnesota cornerback Josh Robinson at the goal line, just getting the ball over the line before it was knocked loose on a big hit by Everson Griffen.
“For me it was a feeling,” Tate said of his leap. “I felt like someone was coming, which he was, and I felt like he was going to go low. Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes I’m right.”
The second of Tate’s touchdowns gave Seattle a 20-17 lead at halftime. Then it was time for Lynch, who spent most of the first half watching Peterson sprint through the Seahawks defense.
Lynch had a 3-yard TD run in the third quarter to give Seattle a 10-point lead. He ran for 69 yards in the second half and added two receptions that included a key 24-yard screen pass that led to Steven Hauschka’s 40-yard field goal with 6:23 left and a 30-20 Seattle lead.
The Seahawks (5-4) sealed the win by running the final 5:27 off the clock, converting two fourth downs, and ending a two-game losing streak.
“I thought it was the kind of day that we needed to start the second half,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We put a lot of pressure on our guys to play well today and to get things done and get this thing going.”
While Peterson carried the ball just five times in the second half, Seattle fed Lynch with 15 attempts. The Seahawks held possession for more than 21 minutes in the second half, including more than 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Wilson finished 16 of 24 for 173 yards. Rice and Tate both had four catches, but Wilson connected with eight different receivers.
“A couple of those touchdowns where the ball was in the end zone and I feel like we should do that more often,” Rice said. “Take shots into the end zone. We got good receivers. We got good tight ends that can make plays. Hopefully, we’ll keep doing it. It’s working for us.”
Peterson’s big day started early as he went 74 yards on the second play of the game, only to be caught at the 1 by Brandon Browner. Peterson scored two plays later, the first time this season the Seahawks did not score first.
Peterson’s 144 yards at halftime were the most in his career in the first half. The Vikings (5-4) had six rushes of more than 10 yards in the first half against a Seattle defense that was giving up an average of less than three per game.
“At halftime we were like ‘we don’t need the coaches to tell us he’s kicking our (rear),’” Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. “We focused up and paid more attention and I love the way we were able to finish the game.”
Some of Peterson’s big gains were due to gap problem and Seattle made corrections. Peterson had just 38 yards in the second half with 28 coming on one run. Three of his carries in the second half were for no gain or losses.
Still coming back from a torn ACL suffered late last year, Peterson had his best game since running for 192 yards against Green Bay on Nov. 9, 2008.
“It took me two years. I tore my ACL my junior year in college and it took me two years to get back to where I felt comfortable enough to be an athlete again,” Bryant said. “I just can’t tell you. I’ve never seen nothing like it.”
Christian Ponder was 11 of 22 for just 63 yards, was sacked four times and threw an interception in the fourth quarter. It was the second time in three games Ponder failed to throw for more than 70 yards.
“We kind of are one dimensional right now,” Vikings receiver Percy Harvin said. “Adrian is running the ball incredibly well, the line is block for him real good, so we just have to dial up better pass plays.”
NOTES: Seattle LB K.J. Wright left in the first quarter with a concussion and did not return. ... Harvin was twice announced as being questionable and came back. He first injured his hamstring and later his left ankle, but continued to play. He had two catches for 10 yards and four carries for 24 yards. ... Peterson’s yards rushing were the most against Seattle since Frank Gore ran for 207 on Sept. 20, 2009.