BY Art Thiel 12:45AM 11/10/2017

Thiel: Seahawks get a win, but lose Sherman

Seattler won another prime-time game but the wretchedness of Thursday night struck hard, costing Sherman the rest of his season, and the Seahawks a passel of other injuries.

CB Richard Sherman did what he does best — denying the opponent’s star, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Thursday night in Glendale, AZ. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

After a few minutes at the podium providing calm, professional answers to questions about the rupture of his Achilles tendon that ended his season Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ., Richard Sherman finally surrendered the stoic facade.

Asked about how down his teammates were for him, he said, “Just got to stay positive,” then broke into tears. He took his crutches and moved on to the hardest phase of his spectacular, volatile career that has made him one of American sports’ most compelling figures.

Through ultimate victories and crushing defeats, amid awards and controversies, navigating the joys and tensions with coaches, teammates and rivals, the proud and prideful Sherman has always shown up. Ninety-nine games in a row, he set aside the relentless physical pain football players endure and did his job as well as anyone who’s ever played cornerback in the NFL.

The streak is over now. If ever there was a player who flirted with professional immortality, it was Sherman. Confirmed now is his humanity.

It happened on the most the damnable regularly scheduled event in sports, NFL Thursday nights. A year ago, ahead of another short-week brutality, he decried Thursday night games as “an absolute poopfest” because the schedule robs players of recovery time from the previous Sunday’s car wreck.

Sherman suddenly and ironically became the poster child for his argument, crumpling to the ground in the third quarter defending a pass that he thought he could intercept — if his tendon didn’t give out.

The injury didn’t keep the Seahawks from prevailing in a scraggly trudge of a contest over the Arizona Cardinals, 22-16 (box). But it almost felt like a loss because of all the casualties.

Graciously, Sherman, who stayed on the sidelines for the rest of the game instead of going into the locker room, declined the chance to blame the circumstances.

“I think (the tendon) would have gone eventually,” he said. “It didn’t help (playing on a short week). It’s part of the game. Unfortunately, we have to go out there and play. Try to help my team win the game.”

Upon making a cut to intersect with the ball, he knew immediately.

“It’s been bothering me all season,” he said. “It’s one of those things you have to play through it as long as you can. When it goes, it goes.”

Sherman stayed on the sideline despite being barely able to walk. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Asked whether doctors tried to overrule his decision to continue despite the injury, he flashed his familiar stubbornness.

“Doctors tried to talk me out of playing for years,” he said. “They understand I’ll do everything I can to get out there. It’s not about anything else. I owe it to (teammates).

“Every game matters. You try to give your teammates all you got. That’s what I did. Tried to give my teammates the best chance to win. We were kind of beat up at corner anyway. I didn’t want to put the young guys out there in a hard spot.”

He said he thought the  original damage occurred in the Rams game Oct. 8. Since then, he tried to avoid the most abrupt changes in direction that are so vital to his job.

“I’d pretty much gone the whole season without making drastic cuts,” he said. “I know the plays well enough where I can put myself in a position to not make a super bad cut, or it would have happened a long time ago. I knew what the play was. I was going to make a break to catch the ball. Once I put everything on it . . . ”

Although the injury didn’t have a big impact on the game — Cardinals QB Drew Stanton, the backup to injured starter and Seahawks nemesis Carson Palmer, was not up to the task of rallying his team from a 15-7 halftime deficit –it will have a large consequence to the Seahawks playoff chances, because it will change how opponent offenses attack the defense.

They now can go to side of the field occupied for 6½ seasons by the best in the biz.

“To see Richard go down, that was tough,” said QB Russell Wilson. “It’s a tough sport we play. You get a little emotional because he’s worked so hard to be great, to be who he is.

“Every day, he’s at every practice, and in every moment. He’s always all in.”

More than anything, his level of commitment is a pillar upon which the Seahawks defense is based. Yes, he can be irascible and contentious, stubborn to a fault, but no one who has watched him mentor a newbie or take down a ballcarrier 50 pounds bigger can say the skinny kid from Compton isn’t all in, mind and body.

Unfortunately for both teams, the story of the warm evening in the desert wasn’t about who was in, but who was out. The Cardinals reported after game that they had lost three players for the season — FS Tyvon Branch, LT D.J. Humphries and TE Ifeanyi Momah.

The Seahawks saw new LT Duane Brown go out with an ankle sprain, DE Frank Clark leave with a thigh bruise, DT Jarran Reed depart after a strained hamstring, and RB C.J. Prosise, finally back playing after spraining his left ankle Sept. 24, crash again after spraining his right ankle.

In the fourth quarter, SS Kam Chancellor was carted off after a neck stinger and LB  Michael Wilhoite hurt a calf.

Said coach Pete Carroll: “It’s hard to be fired up over the win because so many guys got banged up.”

A huge scare dissipated when Wilson returned in the third quarter after sitting out a play after being struck in the jaw during a hit in the backfield. After Arizona’s Karlos Dansby was called for roughing the passer, referee Walt Anderson ordered Wilson to the sideline to go through the concussion protocol. But he was in and out of the injury tent quickly and returned after backup Austin Davis managed a one-play handoff.

“I  got smacked in the jaw pretty good,” Wilson said.” I wasn’t concussed. I felt completely clear. But my jaw was  . . . oh, man, it’s stuck.

“I was down for a second, and I think Walt thought I was injured. I told him I was good. But he said I should go off the field. He did a great job. He made the smartest decision, although I was 100 percent fine. We went through the concussion stuff. I answered every question you could imagine.”

Proof came early in the fourth quarter when Wilson did Wilson to the ultimate degree, with perhaps the most preposterous scramble play of his career.

Rolling left with with defenders in pursuit, Wilson twice escaped sacks with his famous reverse-pivot maneuver, complete with a pump fake that bought him time, before launching a back-footed bullet to WR Doug Baldwin one-on-one along the sideline.

He made a leaping catch, his defender fell down, and 54 yards later set up the Seahawks at the Arizona 2-yard line, from where Wilson hit TE Jimmy Graham for a score that put Seattle up 22-10.

“When you see (premier Cardinals LB) Chandler Jones right there, it’s never a good thing,” Wilson said, explaining his play. “I tried to create some space to get away from him. I spun twice and gave Doug a chance to make a play one-on-one. I don’t think anyone can cover Doug one on one.”

The miracle play brought some light into one of the darker wins in club history. Aside from the divisional triumph that set them up 6-3  and pushed Arizona back to 4-5, the one good thing was the Seahawks are off until a Monday night game Nov. 20 against Atlanta to sort the carnage.

For sure, they will have to replace a founding member of the Legion of Boom.

“He’s been a bastion of consistency, competitiveness and toughness through all the stuff we’ve gone through,” Carroll said. “He’s an extraordinarily iconic player in this league. We’ll miss the heck out of him.”

Unlike a year ago when the teams played to a tie, this time a lot was lost by both sides. A Seattle win has rarely felt more shallow.

Russell Wilson pivoted away twice from Arizona defenders before launching the game’s biggest play. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest


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YourThoughts

  • ll9956

    The Hawks deserve a lot of credit for this victory. But, oh, the price!!! They’re decimated. With this many wounded warriors, it’s hard to picture them winning out.

    I agree with Warren Moon and Pete Carroll that Thursday night games are flat-out insane and should be done away with. Period! Of course the NFL likes the money and the players’ safety be damned. I wonder what would happen if the Players’ Association simply refused to play any more Thursday night games.

    After last week’s ugly loss to Washington, the coaches talked at length about the importance of reducing penalties. Still they were penalized for over 100 yards. On one drive they had AZ stopped at least twice, maybe three times, but gave up first downs on penalties. That’s just about as ugly as it gets.

    • disqus_aEA4p3zFXu

      Agreed. This feels worse than a loss.

      • art thiel

        Be happy it wasn’t a loss.

    • art thiel

      The league and the union agreed to Thursday night games in collective bargaining. A boycott would be a breach of the deal. In the next negotiation, the players could demand it, but it likely would come at a significant cost to the players’ percentage of revenues.

      • Chris Alexander

        I understand that a boycott isn’t possible but I’d be really, REALLY interested in what would happen if a team, AS A TEAM – from the players to the coaches and up to / including the owner – opted to simply forfeit the game and then released a statement that said, “Player safety is too important to us to risk careers on 3 day’s rest.” What could the league REALLY do – other than fine the owner, the coach, and the players?

        I know that no team will ever actually do that. But I’d like to think that if there was a team that WOULD do that, it would be the Seahawks.

        Even better would be if BOTH teams did it. Imagine the reaction if the Colts and Broncos both refused to play the December 14th game (and if they’re both out of playoff consideration by then, they’d have a very legitimate point). Won’t EVER happen. But ….. what if it did?

    • Chris Alexander

      It was 3 first downs by penalty on that drive (and 5 in the first half). And one of them was a “shoulda-not-been-called” hands to the face, automatic first down penalty on the opposite side of the field.

  • Effzee

    Just watched Sherman and Carroll’s press conferences. Brutal. The emotional toll this takes on them is unbelievable. To care so much, to put in so much effort, to be living their dream, and every week someone has to be the loser, or worse, get devastatingly injured… I can’t imagine it. It gets to my emotions, too, when I see the look on someone’s face when they know something bad has happened. I feel awful for Sherman. We need to honor these guys for putting themselves on the line for what amounts to distraction and entertainment for the rest of us.

    • art thiel

      It’s good you see that, effzee. This game comes at a terrible cost, no matter the compensation. It’s a small but growing part of the disaffection around the NFL.

      KING5 just published a major investigative story on the health toll in pro football.

      http://www.king5.com/

      • Tman

        By the time he was 35 years old, Iron man Jim Otto could not put on his pants by himself.

        Would a trial run of touch football..says 6 weeks during the early part of summer, give us a glimpse as to whether or not the touch game is entertaining enough to fill the stands? Great plays are great plays. It’s worth a try.

        Boxing is gone because there is no remedy for the violence. Must football suffer the same fate when a solution to the violence is easily implemented? Is it our lust for violence that drives our interest in the game? I don’t think so. I think it’s the drama, pitting the best against the best.

        • art thiel

          UFC and MMA are smothering boxing, not the public distaste for violence. We have grown more lustful for blood.

          Flag football will never get anywhere except the schoolyard.

          • Tman

            Granted, the Gladiatorial spectacle that is football rivals the thumbs up, thumbs down days of Rome. However, the roman coliseums are in ruins. Must football and Safeco Field face the same fate?

            I was thinking of touch football..a good compromise.

      • Chris Alexander

        I watched that investigative story shortly after the game concluded and, particularly in light of the injuries that occurred in the game, it was …. hard to watch. The league REALLY needs to reconsider some things (starting with Thursday night games).

  • jafabian

    Budda Baker had a solid game. Wish the Hawks drafted him.

    • art thiel

      In the self-inflicted-wound absence of Malik McDowell, I guess so. But I think he may have been too short to fit the Seahawks’ ideal DB profile.

      • jafabian

        He’s the same height as Earl Thomas. At the very least he would have given them some needed depth. Coulda woulda shoulda at this point.

        • art thiel

          Budda Baker is not the athlete that Thomas is. Maybe one of a kind in NFL history for the position.

  • DJ

    Art

    What a night! Sure wasn’t pretty.
    All well said – especially referring to Sherman – thank you. He is the rock and I can’t wait to see him back on the field where he belongs.
    All the best to Richard Sherman!
    Go Hawks!!

    • art thiel

      I’m eager to see how Sherman evolves from this setback. First big one of his career.

      • DJ

        Yep – we’ll I was impressed that he recentered himself emotionally after last season. I know he’s been a great help in mentoring Griffin. Hope he sticks around the team to continue that while he’s rehabbing. He’s got to be a fountain of information and inspiration…… “Coach Sherm” would be good therapy.

        Another subject – Thursday Night Football. I appreciated Sherman’s take on it last year in the Players Tribune, and the daily stages of recovery after a game and how playing Thursday reduces recovery. I don’t see NFL dropping the games if they are making money. What do you think the chances are that game scheduling could take bye weeks into account such that they are the week before a Thursday night game? I realize the bye weeks are grouped which adds to the complexity. It just makes sense to do it if it can help protect the players. Seems like a win-win.

  • Jamo57

    I have to agree with #3, Richard Sherman is Canton bound. Conversely in the meantime it’s getting harder and harder to follow the sport cannibalize itself.

    • art thiel

      You are not alone in the despair over the toll. Change will come only when the consequences of concussions are fully understood by the institutions, players and fans.

      • Jamo57

        I’d like to see byes before the trips to London or Thursday night games. players need the recovery time.

  • Matt Kite

    What a devastating win! Losing Sherman has to be on a par with losing ET. From an emotional standpoint, it’s tough to see someone as proud and accomplished as Sherman fall to earth. I don’t see how the Seahawks compensate for this. They’ll need a combination of luck, teamwork, and lights-out offense to salvage the season, much less go deep into the postseason. Avril and Shermon gone for the season. ET, Kam, Richardson, Clark, Reed — all banged up. Who am I missing? They’re going to have score 30-40 points a game to have any shot. Seems like a tall order for this offense, especially now that Brown is already hurt and Procise is once again injured. Snake-bit.

    • art thiel

      So much has happened that I’d hold off total despair until we see outcomes.

      • Matt Kite

        Will do. I can always relocate to the Pit of Despair later.

    • Chris Alexander

      We’re definitely going to be pushing the limits of the “next man up” mantra given the talent level of the players we’ve lost (either for the season or temporarily). But the signing of Dwight Freeney shows that our GM is still playing to win NOW as well as continuing to build for sustained success. The one (small) silver lining in this (Sherman’s injury) is that it will force the rest of the team to adapt and for some of the younger guys to step up which will help our team in the future. Hopefully it doesn’t derail us this season though. Only time will tell.

  • WestCoastBias79

    Welp. I don’t think they’ll see the dropoff like after Earl got hurt last year because they’re better set up for it. I’m kind of glad Jeremy Lane failed that physical, and incredibly happy that they’re smarter than me and drafted Shaq Griffin, a pick I hated. Shead is also coming back. Considering the wasteland that is the NFC, and well, the rest of the NFL, I still like their chances, but this definitely hurts. I also bet we’ll see him on the sidelines coaching. He’s a smart man and will continue to make a contribution.

    Really, the only pre-season NFC contender that’s mostly unscathed now is Atlanta, and they’re being Sark’d with a dinged Julio Jones. GB lost Rogers. Eagles lost Peters (granted they’re still winning). Vikings lost Bradford (is that a loss?). The Giants lost everyone. Zeke could get suspended at any time and the Cowboys could miss the playoffs. That leaves, what, the surprise teams like the Saints? The Lions? The Rams? Carolina? Yeah, things are wide open. This is shaping up to be a postseason like 2001 when Dilfer plus defense beat Kerry Collins in the Mediocre Bowl.

    • art thiel

      Yes, it’s still wide open, thanks to the injury devastation around the league. Who knows what the second half will bring? Never seen it quite like this.

  • Diamond Mask

    It is getting more and more difficult to watch the NFL despite my adoration for the Seahawks. Last nights over indulgent display of love for the military and the pressure they put on the players to fawn equally is disgusting. This relationship and it’s maintenance is all about the NFL retaining it’s non-profit status but it is an unholy marriage that shouldn’t exist. It is equally hard to listen to Tirico and Collingsworth (or whoever on TV) carry the water for the NFL. Last nights penalty fest had one purpose and one purpose only….to keep the game close for viewers. Everybody including the NFL, Tirico and Collingsworth know that you can call a penalty on every single play in the NFL if you want. You can always find something. But to have those two pail carriers blather on as if something obviously one sided wasn’t going on defies astonishment. At one point after Arizona marched down the field via referee awarded first downs the once honorable Collingsworth spouted how impressive Drew Stanton was……..I’m like did those words just come out of his mouth?

    That being said I though our defense looked stout and our offensive line still working to pull it all together. I’ll chalk up last weekend as the Cousins over Wilson curse. I just hope these injuries don’t diminish us too much. Go Hawks.

    • Parts

      The NFL voluntarily gave up their non-profit status in 2014. Beyond that, you make very good points.

      • Williec

        Really well said. Thanks.

      • art thiel

        The league office changed to non-profit status, but the fuss over it was always a silly point because the 32 teams are for-profit and pay corporate taxes. The NFL office produces no revenue and pays no tax anyway.

    • ll9956

      I suspect the only realistic way to change things is for the Players’ Association to play hardball in the next collective bargaining session (see Art’s response to my comment above). The players would have to be willing to give up their share of the revenue from Thursday night games. It would seem worthwhile to avoid devastating injuries.

  • 1coolguy

    Art, you have covered the injury aspects well, so I will simply make a comment on the game – The Hawks are simply not a very good team this year. Without going into the details everyone knows, they simply are hanging on by their fingernails – Stanton? Who the H is Stanton? If not for his missing many open receivers and for dropped passes, Arizona most likely would have won. Of course, if we didn’t have RW, would the Hawks have won any games this year? The team is doing its best, but especially now with the injuries, it will be a miracle if they make the playoffs, and that is a real crime.

    • art thiel

      Speaking of crimes, how about those penalties? Those have nothing to do with injuries, although it does speak some to the youth of the players. But as Carroll says, those are fixable.

      We await the fix.

      • Chris Alexander

        On offense, we had at least 2 drives where we picked up a 3rd down conversion only to lose the first down to a penalty and then we ended up punting. And on defense it was worse. How many first downs via penalty did we give Arizona? I know there were 3 on one of their scoring drives and at least 6 overall. At one point in the first half, the team had 6 penalties and 5 of them had resulted in first downs for Arizona and the only reason it wasn’t 6-for-6 is because the 6th penalty was on one of our O-linemen.

        I don’t mind the offsides penalties we get cuz Michael Bennett is being aggressive or someone else on the D is trying to time the snap. And I don’t mind LEGITIMATE pass interference penalties (most of the time). But it’s the penalties that we get away from the play that kill me. When the pass goes to the left and we get called for hands to the face on the far side of the field …… UGH!

  • Husky73

    The right things to do would be to go to two pre-season games, 14 regular season games, and eliminate Thursday games. However, the league and the union are complicit.

    • art thiel

      In the NFL and all big-time sports, more has always been assumed to be better. If you’ve ever seen Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote, I will defer explanation to him.

      • Husky73

        A shrubbery?

    • Chris Alexander

      I would actually argue that there’s a way to KEEP Thursday games if the league wants/needs the revenue and ratings from them. But my solution would cost the league the first month of Thursday games. Starting in Week 5, you can have Thursday games that feature 2 teams that had their bye week the previous week. That way, the teams would actually have EXTRA rest before the game (and after it as well) and the shortest time you’d ever have between games would be the 5 days (or 6 days, depending on how you count it) between a Monday night match-up and a game the following Sunday.

      Thursday night games aren’t the issue in and of themselves; it’s the short turnaround for teams that played the previous Sunday (which is most of them).

  • Michael Galey

    I remember the great Johnny U completely lose the use of his arm and could barely raise it in his final days. Then the meanest grizzly Bear Dick Butkus hardly able to walk after his career. Football is the epitome of a grinder to the human body. Now down goes Shermenator to join Cliff in the bandage brigade. I still have hope that the young’ns will rise to the challenge. If ol’ number 3 can dance like he did Thursday the Hawks might to get to the big dance. Especially with all the other teams looking like the aftermath of Gettysburg .

  • tor5

    As others have suggested, it can’t be that hard to simply have Thursday Night games follow the bye weeks of each team. It’s such a no-brainer. If the NFL can’t figure out the scheduling, can’t they hire someone good at Sudoku or something? I mean, give me a break.