Now the rest of the Seattle Seahawks’ season minus Richard Sherman, their first time without the star cornerback since he entered the NFL, begins.
As does an NFL inquiry into how the Seahawks sent quarterback Russell Wilson back into play.
Wilson missed only one play of Thursday night’s damaging win at the Arizona Cardinals after the referee sent him out of the game to get a preliminary check for a possible concussion.
After a check about as quick as a NASCAR pit stop, the Seahawks’ quarterback re-entered and finished the game.
You aren’t the only one who wondered about that.
On Friday, the NFL sent to The News Tribune a statement that the league is starting “a thorough review” of whether the Seahawks followed NFL concussion protocol before Wilson re-entered the game.
“A thorough review is underway,” the NFL said in its statement. “According to the policy jointly developed by the NFL and NFLPA, if the Concussion Protocol is not properly followed the club is subject to discipline.”
Wilson got hit in the chin by the helmet of Arizona’s Karlos Dansby after throwing a pass in the third quarter. Referee Walt Anderson flagged Dansby for roughing the passer.
Then Anderson — and presumably the league-appointed concussion monitor stationed in the press box and on each sideline — saw Wilson adjusting his helmet and appearing to feel the side of his head and face. Anderson sent Wilson to the Seahawks’ sideline. After the game the quarterback acknowledged it was to get checked out for any signs of a concussion.
“I got smacked in the jaw pretty good. I wasn’t concussed or anything. I felt completely clear. I was just trying to move my jaw,” Wilson said. “I was laying on the ground for a second trying to move my jaw, and I think Walt thought maybe I was injured.
“I told him I was good, but he said, ‘You’ve got to come off the field.’”
Wilson did. For one play. Austin Davis entered for his second snap this season — the other was a kneel down to end a win over Houston two games ago. Davis handed the ball off to C.J. Prosise. Then Wilson re-entered and finished that drive and final 1½ quarters.
After the drive, Seahawks team doctor Edward Khalfayan stood in front of Wilson on the sideline in front of the team’s bench. With the quarterback’s helmet off, the doctor held each side of Wilson’s face along the jaw-bone for an evaluation. Wilson went into the team’s tent of obscurity behind the bench, used to keep everyone from seeing what they are examining players for. Wilson’s tent stay was brief; he was out of it after maybe a minute or so. He immediately went back to sitting on the bench reviewing his electronic tablet showing Arizona’s defensive alignments.
“Walt made the smart decision, but I was fine. I was 100-percent fine,” Wilson said. “We finally went over the whole concussion stuff and went through every question you could imagine.”
That must have been some rapid-fire Q-and-A.
There is no question about Sherman’s status for the rest of the season. He’s on crutches and in a walking boot, headed for surgery to repair his Achilles’ tendon above his right heel. He heard it pop in the third quarter while planting his already sore foot in the turf in an attempt to intercept a pass.
Sherman was so distraught over his injury, so keenly aware what had happened and what it meant, he shoved at Khalfayan as the doctor was attending to him on the field. Sherman was in tears later at the end of his postgame press conference, which he entered and exited on crutches.
“He’s going to get checked, but the doctors are really clear about it that he ruptured his Achilles,” coach Pete Carroll said.
“There’s no coming back from that until (after) you get surgery.”
Seattle’s next game, Monday, Nov. 20 at home against Atlanta, will be the first one Sherman has missed in 106 games. That’s since the Seahawks drafted him in the fifth round out of Stanford in 2011. Sherman took much pride in that streak. It helps explain why he was playing a second game in four days Thursday on an Achilles that had been painful since the Oct. 8 win at the Los Angeles Rams.
“It’s just been constant, nagging pretty much over the whole season, you know,” Sherman said. “But we’ve tried to rest it. We tried to treat it, do everything we could. But it’s just one of those things that wasn’t going to heal.”
So why play Thursday? Why not take the short week off to rest and rehabilitate the Achilles so it had less chance to snap over more games late this season and, the Seahawks hope, into the playoffs?
Sherman’s answer late Thursday shows how even the most elite NFL players, a Super Bowl champion considered among the top three players at his position in the game, don’t feel secure enough in their place and status to take games off.
“Because every game matters in this league,” Sherman said. “You go out there and you play for your teammates. You go out there and try to give it all you’ve got; they deserve it.”
“That’s what I did,” he said.
“It’s been pretty rough. But just like anything else, you can’t give excuses. You just go out and play. I was out there, so I was good enough to play.”
Sherman was asked, wouldn’t team doctors try to talk him out of playing Thursday night.
“Doctors have been trying to talk me out of playing for years,” Sherman said. “And they understand that I am going to try to go out there and do everything I can to help my team. It’s not about anything but that. I owe it to those guys.
“I gave everything I have.”
Seattle’s entire secondary is in doubt right now. The “Legion of Boom” has gone bust.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor was out for Arizona’s final drive late Thursday.
“Kam had a stinger late in the game,” Carroll said. “And we need to see what that’s all about to take care of him and make sure he’s OK.”
Three-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas missed his second consecutive game with a pulled hamstring. He hasn’t practiced in two weeks, since he got hurt chasing DeAndre Hopkins on the Houston receiver’s long catch and run for a touchdown on Oct. 29.
With Sherman’s injury, too, the Seahawks’ secondary for Arizona final drive Thursday had benched Jeremy Lane at right cornerback, Bradley McDougald at free safety, rookie Delano Hill at strong safety and rookie Shaquill Griffin at left cornerback. The Cardinals scored a touchdown against that makeshift unit to make the final score 22-16.
Good thing, for now anyway, Seattle has 10 days between their battering win in the desert and that next game against the Falcons.
Atlanta coach Dan Quinn, the Seahawks’ former defensive coordinator, knows where Seattle’s flaws are even when its stars are all healthy. He will have star, Super Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan and All-Pro receiver Julio Jones targeting all parts of the changed defense.
Especially the part Sherman is no longer patrolling.
“We’ll miss the heck out of him,” Carroll said. “He’ll be with us every step of the way when he can. But we’ll miss the heck out of him.”