Here are three takeaways following a bittersweet 22-16 win for the Seahawks on Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Seahawks pulled out a gritty 22-16 win over their NFC West rival, the Arizona Cardinals, at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday night. But at what cost?
1. This one could turn out to be costly
Boy, was this an ugly, ugly game. And it might cost the Seahawks in the long run. By its end, nine Seahawks including quarterback Russell Wilson had left the game at some point to be examined for injuries.
Only three returned. Thankfully for the Seahawks, this number included Wilson, who missed one play after his head snapped back on the end of a tackle. Wilson was examined on the sideline and returned to play. Cornerback Shaq Griffin was examined for a shoulder issue, but he only missed half a series before returning. Sheldon Richardson was examined in the fourth quarter after he collided with Frank Clark while trying to make a tackle. Richardson returned by the end of the series. Clark sustained a thigh injury, and was classified as questionable to return.
Richard Sherman wasn’t as lucky either. The Seahawks’ star cornerback went down in the third quarter while defending a pass against Larry Fitzgerald. He hobbled off the field clearly in pain and was ushered in the med tent. The official designation was that he had a heel injury and would not return.
But on the sideline later, the TV cameras caught Sherman mouthing what looked like “tore my Achilles” to his defensive teammates. Sherman has dealt with an Achilles issue this fall, but has managed to play through it so far.
If this is indeed the case, the Seahawks are in trouble. When Sherman went out, he was replaced at left cornerback by Jeremy Lane. The Cardinals immediately tried to target Lane, throwing in his direction on two of the next three plays. One was a catch by J.J. Nelson for 17 yards. On the second, Nelson dropped what should have been a reception.
Still, the point is clear – there is a distinct drop off without Sherman on the field. And if his Achilles is indeed torn, the Seahawks will mostly likely have to pick up another cornerback to supplement the roster. Earl Thomas is still out too, don’t forget. So the Seahawks finished out the game with Bradley McDougald, Kam Chancellor, Jeremy Lane, Justin Coleman and Neiko Thorpe as their five remaining healthy defensive backs.
But, the Seahawks might have to deal with a lot more than just Sherman’s absence.
In only his second game as a Seahawk, left tackle Duane Brown sustained an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return. Matt Tobin subbed in at left tackle instead.
Defensive tackle Jarran Reed injured a hamstring and did not return, running back C.J. Prosise – who has missed four games with an ankle injury this season – left in the third quarter with (you guessed it) an ankle injury. He, too, did not return. In the fourth quarter, linebacker Michael Wilhoite sustained a calf injury. He did not return either.
How many injuries can a team take in one game?
In case you’re wondering, the Cardinals didn’t escape unscathed either. They lost safety Tyvon Branch, tackle D.J. Humphries and tight end Ifeanyi Momah to injuries too. None of the injured players returned.
2. Those penalties? Yeah they’re still a problem
This week, after the Seahawks registered 16 penalties and came one penalty shy of tying the club’s record for most penalties in a game, they stressed that they had to clean up the silly mistakes causing penalties.
But the slew of penalties continued against Arizona. Seattle finished with 12 penalties for 108 yards, marking the fourth game in a row, and the fifth this season, that Seattle has finished in the double digits in penalties.
The flag-fest was most apparent on Arizona’s third offensive drives, when Seattle’s defense was penalized five times for 46 yards. As a result, the Cardinals needed only 36 offensive yards on that drive to go 75 yards and cap things off with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Drew Stanton to tight end Jermaine Gresham.
The Seahawks finished the first half with eight penalties. To their credit, the second half was a little cleaner: Seattle had four penalties after the break. The second half was, however, the half where the Seahawks’ players stared dropping like flies. So, pick your poison, huh?
3. Kicker Blair Walsh rebounded nicely
Blair Walsh missed three field goals last week in the Seahawks’ 17-14 defeat to Washington, but the Seahawks kept their faith in him, with Pete Carroll saying this week that they would not bring in another kicker to compete with Walsh.
The kicker repaid the Seahawks confidence in him by making both his field goal attempts against the Cardinals. Walsh connected on field goals of 33 and 44 yards in the second quarter to give Seattle a 15-7 lead going into the locker room at halftime.
Walsh also made his two extra point attempts to account for eight total points, and the Seahawks needed every one of them in their 22-16 win. On this night, he was the least of Seattle’s problems.