The Seahawks played their most perplexing game of the season in a 27-13 loss to Arizona on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, dropping Seattle (11-4) out of the top spot in the NFC playoff seedings.
The good news is the Seahawks can still clinch the NFC West title — and still have a shot at a first-round bye — with a victory over San Francisco (12-3) in the regular-season finale at home next week.
The bad news is the Seahawks were so bad against Arizona — and they are so injury-riddled right now — that you wonder what kind of team they’ll be able to field next week.
Three early impressions from the Seahawks’ loss to the Cardinals:
What in the heck was that?
If the Seahawks looked like a completely different team Sunday, well, that’s because they kind of were.
Injuries meant the Seahawks were without three of their best players on defense — Jadeveon Clowney (core), Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and Quandre Diggs (ankle).
They were also without veteran left tackle Duane Brown (leg), which meant the Seahawks turned to second-year pro Jamarco Jones for his first start at left tackle.
Worst yet, the Seahawks lost their top two running backs in the first half Sunday (more on that momentarily).
Injuries aside, this was nonetheless as poor as the Seahawks have played all season — especially considering Arizona’s record (4-9-1) coming into the game.
Russell Wilson was sacked five times — four by Chandler Jones — and the Seahawks were a pathetic 1 for 12 on third down.
The Seahawks trailed 17-7 at halftime — and they were fortunate to even be that close.
Seattle’s final five drives of the first half netted minus-22 yards, and things somehow got worse on their opening drive of the third quarter — which ended when David Moore fumbled at the end of a 21-yard reception.
December has been a brutally tough month for Seahawks running backs.
Rashaad Penny, Seattle’s No. 2 back, went down with a torn ACL two weeks ago. He had surgery Friday and is out for the season.
C.J. Prosise, Penny’s replacement, went down with an arm injury in the first half Sunday. He did not return.
Chris Carson, the Seahawks’ featured runner and one of the most productive backs in the NFL, went down with a hip injury in the first half Sunday. He did not return.
Where does that leave the Seahawks?
The nature of the injuries to Carson and Prosise were not immediately clear, but for the remainder of Sunday’s game the Seahawks had one — and only one — option available in the backfield.
That was Travis Homer, a little-used and little-known rookie.
Homer, who had his first NFL handoff just last week in Carolina, finished with five carries for 16 yards. He also had six receptions for 26 yards.
The Seahawks scored a touchdown on their very first possession — Wilson’s 3-yard pass to fullback Nick Bellore.
Seattle was outscored 27-6 the rest of the way.
After that touchdown, the Seahawks immediately gave up an 80-yard run to Arizona’s Kenyan Drake to tie the score at 7-7, and it never got any better for the Seahawks defense after that.
Even when Kyler Murray, Arizona’s standout rookie QB, went down with a hamstring injury in the third quarter, the Seahawks had little answers.
Backup QB Brett Hundley, the former Seahawk, replaced Murray and led the Cardinals on a backbreaking nine-play, 78-yard drive in the fourth quarter, capped by Drake’s 3-yard TD run to give the Cardinals a 27-13 lead.
Drake finished with 166 yards on the ground, the most Seattle has allowed this season, and two touchdowns.