The Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday (5:30/NBC). They've won their past four on Thursday night, twice while coming off losses as they are this week.
If few other NFL players would have described Thursday night games quite the way Seattle’s Richard Sherman did a year ago — he memorably called them “an absolute poopfest’’ — almost none would disagree.
Most players generally say it’s not until Thursday that their bodies begin to feel somewhat normal again after the punishment of the previous Sunday, which many say has led to often sloppy and sluggish Thursday night games.
But the Thursday nighters aren’t going away anytime soon, and every team has to play one at some point in an NFL season.
Seattle’s turn comes this week, when roughly 97 hours or so after Washington put the finishing touches on a shocking 17-14 win at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks will suit up again, kicking off against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale.
“It’s really hard to turn around, play Sunday, and especially when you have to travel to a different city to play,’’ Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “It’s an extremely hard schedule.’’
The Seahawks, though, have at least somewhat embraced the fast turnaround this year, saying it could allow them to, well, quickly flush the surprising Washington defeat as quickly as possible.
It’s a situation in which they also know they have thrived, having turned in some of their best games in recent years on Thursday nights.
Seattle, in fact, has won its past four Thursday night games by a combined 97-31 score, all by at least 12 points.
Three of those came on the road, which is generally regarded as the hardest possible task for an NFL team in-season (though road teams are actually 5-4 on Thursday night this season).
The Seahawks won on Thursday nights the past two years after what were also pretty bitter defeats.
Last season the Seahawks beat the Rams 24-3 on Thursday night after suffering a 38-10 loss at Green Bay the previous Sunday.
And in 2015 Seattle went to San Francisco (OK, Santa Clara) and beat the 49ers 24-3 four days after blowing a late lead to Carolina at home in a 27-24 loss.
Wagner said one key is that the team often begins preparing players physically for the challenge the week before the Thursday night game.
Last week, for instance, Wagner didn’t practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury that had him officially listed as questionable.
Wagner, though, said a little bit of that caution was with the team looking ahead in giving him a little time off and toying with the idea of holding him out.
Thursday night games are also typically divisional games, which at least mitigates that there is little time to prepare for each team.
“You don’t have to re-learn a new offense,’’ Wagner said. “Like you have seen this team a handful of times. We’ve got a lot of film on them, so that’s what helps us. They know us, we know them and it’s just who can remember what they did the fastest.”
A key for the Seahawks will be quickly forgetting what happened against Washington while remembering how to fix what led to that defeat.
Seattle dominated most of the stats against Washington, holding a 437-244 edge in yards. It was the fifth time in sixth games the oft-maligned Seahawks offense gained at least 425 yards.
But 16 penalties — second-most in team history — going just 5 for 14 on third downs and somehow entering the red zone only twice despite all those yards, coupled with a late defensive breakdown, led to a defeat that gives Seattle no real margin for error moving into the second half of the season.
Seattle is 5-3, falling a game behind the Rams in the NFC West. Sunday, Los Angeles is a 12-point favorite against Deshaun Watson-less Houston, meaning a Seattle stumble against Arizona could put the Seahawks into a hole that might be tough to escape.
Not only has playing on Thursday typically been a good omen for Seattle, though, so has playing in Arizona (against the Cardinals, anyway). The Seahawks haven’t lost in Glendale against Arizona since Russell Wilson’s first game in 2012, winning the next three years by 12 or more before an unfathomable 6-6 overtime tie last season.
“I still feel like it was a loss,’’ Arizona coach Bruce Arians said this week.
We can only imagine what Sherman might have called it if it happened on a Thursday night.