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The Morning After: Agony in Victory for Wounded Seahawks
Offense
Defense
Special Teams
2.5Game Rating
Reader Rating: (20 Votes)

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Jarran Reed was the first to go. He would be followed by Duane Brown, Shaquill Griffin, Frank Clark, Sheldon Richardson, Kam Chancellor, C.J. Prosise, Russell Wilson, and Richard Sherman. The injuries that removed them from the field varied in severity. Some took only a play to return. Others, will not step on the field again this season. It will take a few days, and possibly a few weeks, to know the full impact of this game. That Seattle struggled so mightily to beat an already decimated Cardinals team after losing to a decimated Redskins team, paints a picture of a season with limited potential. There are far worse places to be, though, than 6-3 and the only undefeated team in the division.

This game was painful to watch for reasons beyond the litany of injuries on both sides. The teams combined for 21 penalties. Arizona’s first touchdown drive consisted of 39 yards gained by the Cardinals and 36 yards provided by Seahawks penalties. It felt like the game barely saw consecutive plays without either a penalty or an injury.

The NFL may want to consider a new slogan for Thursday Night Football: Where stars get hurt and the games suck! It got so cynically comical that Cards fans sitting near me (I was at the game), started saying things like, “C’mon Cards! Draw a flag!” before the ball was even snapped on third downs. Arizona had 90 yards of offense at halftime and the Seahawks had 81 yards in penalties. Seattle would easily finish with over 100 yards in penalties for their fourth straight game. Atrocious.

It is worth noting that few of the penalties were of the pre-snap variety. There were pass interference calls, face masks, holding, hands to the face, clipping, and more. It was a cornucopia of absurdity. The refs managed to amplify the absurdity by ruling that Andre Ellington’s blatant fumble at the end of the first half was instead an incomplete pass, despite the fact that he took three full steps before hitting the ground. If he had taken four steps, would it have been a fumble? Five? Twenty?

 

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Arizona came out aggressive on defense and the Seahawks offensive line had a lot of trouble holding up. Wilson was under attack from the get-go, and there was still no sign of a viable run game. ProFootballFocus (PFF) shared a note that the Seahawks offensive line gave up just 6 pressures on 39 passing plays, which is their best mark of the season. That is not how it looked from where I sat.

PFF noted that Wilson was responsible for 5 additional pressures himself. Thomas Rawls was responsible for one of the five sacks. Germain Ifedi gave up his first sack of the season. What was most perplexing was why Darrell Bevell attempted to incorporate some long-developing plays in the midst of these protection challenges. At one point, he called a play that required multiple play-action fakes to set up a deep throw. Wilson was enveloped shortly after the second fake. The play never had a chance. It was like taking someone who was struggling to clear a hurdle and asking them to run the Ninja Warrior obstacle course.

The offense still managed to put up 190 yards and 13 points in the first half (the defense got the other two on a safety). Matt Tobin had to enter the game after Brown went down with an ankle injury. He did reasonably well given the situation, but the offense screeched to a halt in the second half. They gained just 97 yards, and 54 of them came on a miracle heave from Wilson to Doug Baldwin that had nothing to do with good, repeatable offense. The best thing to say about the Seahawks performance on offense was that Jimmy Graham was terrific in the red zone, and Wilson put the ball in perfect spots for him to make plays.

 

Graham now has 6 touchdowns on the season, matching his total from last season with seven games to play.

 

Paul Richardson also managed to pull in another remarkable deep ball at the end of the first half, that had Cardinals fans near me gasping. J.D. McKissic had some nice moments.

In all, though, it was hard to watch the offense these last two games and have much faith in their ability to become a consistent unit. They look discombobulated. Worse, they look unsure of who they want to be.

The defense was troubling as well. Facing a horrific offensive line that lost their starting left tackle, and a dreadful quarterback in Drew Stanton, they should have been able to get disruptive pressure and cause more turnovers. Instead, Stanton had time to find open receivers in key moments. Had he not missed wide open players on a few big plays, and had some of his receivers caught passes that hit their hands, the Cardinals likely would have won this game.

Seattle’s run defense was stellar, and was easily the best part of the game overall. Arizona was determined to establish the run to take pressure off Stanton, and Seattle had none of it. Bruce Arians called six runs in the Cardinals first seven plays after halftime, and seven runs on that drive. Adrian Peterson managed just 19 yards. Peterson would run just three more times the rest of the game, losing yards on two of the runs, and totaling -7 yards. Eat it, Arians.

One of the best stories in the game was the return of defensive end Dion Jordan after being out of football since 2014. He got significant snaps at the base LEO defensive end spot that Cliff Avril used to play, and Frank Clark has taken over. I was surprised that he played almost the entire second half instead of Clark, even before Clark limped off the field with an injury. Jordan finished with a team-high 3 quarterback hits and a sack, as well as a tackle for loss. That is a promising debut.

Nazair Jones was terrific as well, getting more snaps after Reed left injured. Jones had a sack, a quarterback hit, and a tackle for loss.

The biggest story of the game, though, was the injuries. Sherman tore his achilles and is lost for the season. His courage and leadership will be missed almost as much as his talent. Still misunderstood nationally, both on the field and off, Sherman made his biggest impact in this game in run support. His tackling was fantastic.

Jeremy Lane stepped in after the injury and was his normal adequate self. There will be renewed urgency and interest in the status of Deshawn Shead. It was starting to feel like the Seahawks would not need him this year, but if he can play, they certainly would welcome him back. Former Seahawk corner Byron Maxwell is another option. It will be interesting to see if Griffin takes the opportunity to step forward. He had a mostly stellar game, although he was the beneficiary of a few errant Stanton throws and Cardinal drops.

The coming days will tell us a lot about how much the roster landscape will change. Earl Thomas will hopefully be ready to come back. Brown’s injury is a key one to watch, as he would be a crucial part of helping the offense find any stability. Reed has been great all year, and would be a big loss if he was out for extended time. Same with Chancellor. Seattle won a game on Thursday, but lost a lot. This is not a particularly joyous 6-3, but it certainly is preferable to what the majority of teams are facing. It is going to take some unnatural leaps forward on offense for this team to be a legitimate contender.

7 Responses

  1. Uncle Bob

    The mind of a warrior, the heart of a champion, that would be Sherm. While he’s the biggest loss from last night’s game there is even more. As I write this there hasn’t been any follow up on Chancellor as far as just how significant a “dinger” he suffered. Not unlike our thoughts on Avril weeks ago, a neck injury is always scary. Let’s hope he’s only got a minor injury………..for his quality of life, not our fanhood.

    As for the team overall, aside from the too high number of injuries, there were some positive signs. No chunk plays allowed, though the soft middle for passes was still there to the degree that Stanton had the ability to exploit. It would be better to have Earl in there, but it wasn’t the disaster that too many short sighted whiners lament. McDougald was very serviceable. The rest of the defense performed pretty darn well with only minor glitches. Penalties still climbed into double digits, but the officiating was pretty lame from a balance point of view. I suspect that officiating crews have briefing sessions and the narrative in their world is that the Seahawks need to be scrutinized more. As a result the Cardinals could maul a receiver, block in the back, and more without getting the flag as easily as the Hawk players would. That’s not likely to change regardless of what the team does (which is not to condone sloppy penalties for off sides, false starts, and the like). The offense finally looks more respectable in the red zone, and, hard as it may be to believe, the running game improved……………….slightly. Walsh made all his kicks! Jordan might be a steal. Richardson (Sheldon that is) played through his injury well, very well. The whole defense balled very well. The offense? Oh……….just keep your fingers crossed………..

    Thankfully we’ve got a longer period to the next game to recuperate and plan/prepare. And that’s where my concern is. Many will lament the loss of Sherm and go into full Chicken Little mode. We’ve got a lot of talent out there still (assuming none of the other injuries are season ending……well, except maybe Prosise), My concern is if the coaching staff is up to the challenge of scheming around the loss of Sherm…………….and yes, I really do believe it could be done. In fact it may be a season saving opportunity to put it in terms to counteract the doom and gloomers. It’s possible that competitors will become over confident thinking that their passing opportunities will go largely unchecked (much as many fans will believe). Could the revamped secondary be offered the chance to increase interceptions? Hopefully the defensive brain trust can go full Baldwin and overachieve. The offense……………sigh, again, keep those fingers crossed.

    Reply
    • andy

      Everything is true about RS, but don’t be surprised if that was his last game. Getting older, decline in skills, and more injuries.

      Reply
  2. Rowdy Yates

    Re the Refs, I turned the game off and took the dog for a walk. It seemed to help.

    Lucky me, I turned the game back on just as Baldwin and Wilson played schoolyard. The most exciting kind of ball there is, in my opinion.

    For the rest of this season, the Seahawks may rally around their fallen to play the way they did in days of yore when Kurt Warner snapped an achilles (sp) tendon in ’84, I think it was.

    I snapped my achilles tendon too, once upon a time. I’ll never know if it cost me a step, as my steps were never that fast to begin with. Good luck with your rehab, Richard. It’s a process, but what isn’t?

    Go Hawks.

    Reply
  3. andy

    Right on, Brian. I wonder if this team will have a big “face-lift” next season. Most of the dominant defensive players are getting older, decline in skills, and I would not be surprised if RS will not be here next year. Have no idea what this team is about anymore. No identity. Still trying to figure it out what kind of a team they want to be. PC is getting old and the game is passing him. JS is still a great GM. We can sit here and nitpick about the game plan and its tactics, but if you don’t have a definite vision of what you want to achieve, then it is just keeping throw s**** against the wall and see if it sticks. We’ll find out soon.

    Reply
  4. SikhHawk

    We R 12’s not the 40whiners, we dont do misery OK!
    Duane B says he be back next game, Jimmy & Doug on fire, Britt played w ankle sprain, Ifedi has played only 9 RT games, only given up 1sack, his penalty risks will reduce. Joekel back in 2 games, pocic wil replace aboushi, & OL takes time to gel. ALL BE FINE BY GAME 12, then watch Russ go MVP.

    Luck is with us, we kept Lane & cud get Maxwell, against all odds. Jordon is a monster find, BWags is DPOY, KJW, JR, NJ, FC & MB all ballin. Avril cud return. ET3 & Kam R stellar. SO Y ALL THIS GLOOM&DOOM. Its not like we lost ET3 w puny depth as occurred last year, our Sec loaded is loaded, even without Richard the LIONHEART.

    We played twice in 4 days, of course there gonna be mistakes. Lets see how do after 11 days rest & if we get stomped on by Falcons, then u can be gloomy, otherwise, behave like 12s, glass always half full, Y NOT US, if Leicester can win the EPL, then we can win SB52.

    Reply
  5. Michael McCarthy

    1. In the old NFC, being a Bears fan since preschool, the game was measured in part by how many players were left on the field. The last Green Bay at Chicago, the Packers beat down the Bears, and the Bears beat down the Packers, leaving 3 on the field at the end of the game. At the last Vikings vs Packers game, the Vikings won big when Rodgers went down, as well as a few Packers. It wasn t the money. Butkus made less than 50,000 a year. It was something else. You can only see that these days by watching the All Blacks come to town to play South Africa, Ireland or England. New Zealand is less than 4 million people, but the All Blacks strike fear in every much bigger country. This with very little pay. This with no helmets, no pads, no anything. And like the early NFC teams, in a scrum somebody was going to grab your groin or chew on your ear. We should really watch those games while they still last. The South Africans still talk in the pubs about the 1995 playoffs, when they almost beat the All Blacks for the world title. One would expect games in the old NFC like the Arizona game.

    2. Better Russell. You and Jimmy and the other tight ends and McEvoy, should go back and watch a lot of Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer tape to see the continual series of short passes, less than 15 yards, to Fitzgerald which he made a living at and a Hall of Fame name for himself. Palmer was nothing more than a point guard feeding the ball to an inside player in the paint. Really, the passes look like kiddie school football or basketball, they are so easy. Fitzgerald, like any good big man in the paint, uses his body and his butt to block out the opposing players. In the NBA, it didn t
    require a really tall player. Barkley had a giant butt, and at 6 6 he is one of the great few power forwards and in the top 30 all time. Adrian Dantley was only 6 4 and a very good power forward. But Dantley was strong and had great endurance. At Notre Dame in college he practiced playing full court one on one, that with ankle weights.

    Reply
  6. Jack Reacher

    You had me at “Eat it Arians”!
    Gotta get Maxy. Move Quille over to the masters side. He’s been unflappable all year, there’s no reason to think that will change.
    McDougald has been very good in relief of ET.
    Brown already saying he’ll be fine and his hurt is significantly better than Tobin/Odi.
    Curious why they weren’t more committed to the running game. It wasn’t killing, but I thought it would been like the niners game if they’d stayed with it. They would have started gashing them as they gassed them in the 4th if they’d have just stuck with it.
    They really are seeming really confused as to their identity.

    Reply

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