SEATTLE — Once again, Percy Harvin’s impact was brilliant but brief.
The highly touted, supremely talented — and oft-injured — wide receiver had a big effect on Saturday’s NFL playoff game, helping to set up 10 of Seattle’s points in a 23-15 victory over New Orleans at CenturyLink Field.
But, as has been the case virtually all season, the coming week will be filled with speculation as to whether Harvin will be able to play next Sunday when the Seahawks host the NFC championship game.
Harvin had one run for 9 yards to set up a touchdown, and he caught a 16-yard pass on third down to set up a field goal.
But he took a hard fall after an acrobatic attempt at a pass in the end zone late in the second quarter and did not play in the second half.
“The poor kid. He finally gets to play, and he banged his head against the turf really hard,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of Harvin, who also left the game briefly in the first quarter after taking a hit to the head from New Orleans safety Rafael Bush, a hit that drew a personal foul penalty on Bush.
“He was OK the first time, but the second one really rocked him,” Carroll said. “They’re treating him for the concussion thing.”
Seattle acquired Harvin from Minnesota last spring in exchange for three draft picks, including the Seahawks’ first-round pick in 2013. A preseason hip injury led to surgery, and Harvin played in only one regular-season game.
In that game, against Minnesota, Harvin touched the ball only twice, but one was a spectacular bobbling catch on third-down, and the other was a 58-yard kickoff return, both of which set up scores in a 41-20 victory.
But Harvin came up sore the next day and didn’t play again in the regular season. Carroll nearly pulled the plug on the whole thing by putting Harvin on the injured reserve list on the Monday after the regular season, but Harvin completed a strenuous work out that convinced Carroll to keep him on the active roster.
Harvin participated in every practice since then, and he was a regular part of the receiver rotation Saturday.
He was playing well until crashing the ground on his head and right shoulder in the end zone and lying dazed for some time.
Despite playing less than a half, Harvin finished the game as Seattle’s leading receiver with three catches for 21 yards. His 16-yard catch in the second quarter came on a jump ball that Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson lobbed up under extreme duress.
“Just giving him a shot,” Wilson said of the inartistic throw. “He beat his guy. He got over the top of his guy. He just went up and attacked the football. That’s the thing that he does.
“He’s so explosive,” Wilson said. “You think about Percy Harvin, he was arguably an MVP candidate, if not the best player in the National Football League at one point.
“We’re just trying to get him back.”
Seattle’s offensive game plan went quite conservative in the second half with a 16-0 halftime lead, stormy conditions, and Harvin out of the game.
“We played a little more conservatively when we were backed up in the first part of the third quarter, really most of the third quarter,” Carroll said. “We were trying to make sure that we were really sound and solid, and if we had to kick the ball, we kicked the ball.
“It certainly seemed like he (Harvin) had a contribution that was obvious,” Carroll said. “He almost popped that run when we had him going on the edge, and we had that big third-down play.
“Just, unfortunately, he got smacked a couple of times, and he couldn’t stay out there.”
Once again, the Seahawks were able to win without Harvin, but, once again, they’ll spend the week dreaming wistfully about how much easier it might be to win with him.
“Hopefully, we get him back next week,” Wilson said. “We look forward to that if that’s the case.”