Seahawks sink Cardinals, but Sherman lost
GLENDALE, Arizona — Richard Sherman began his postgame press conference in almost jovial fashion, perhaps an attempt to keep a stiff upper lip.
He ended it with moist eyes.
The three-time All-Pro cornerback and emotional leader of the Seattle defense is done for the season, victim of a ruptured right Achilles tendon in the third quarter of the Seahawks' 22-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"Doctors are clear he ruptured his Achilles," Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters. "There's no coming back from that until you get the surgery."
The injury ended a streak of 105 straight starts over 6 1/2 years for the durable pro, who had never missed a game since coming into the NFL in 2011. Sherman went down after going for an interception while defending Arizona receiver John Brown late in the third period.
"I knew what the play was, and I was going to make a break to catch the ball," said Sherman, who entered the interview room on crutches with a protective boot on his foot. "I put everything on (his foot). I thought I could get the ball, and I felt (the Achilles) pop."
Sherman said the rupture didn't surprise him. He said he injured the tendon in an Oct. 8 game against the Rams in Los Angeles. It has been sore ever since.
"It's just been constant, nagging through the season," Sherman said. "We've tried to rest it, treat it. Nothing has worked.
"You just have to play through it as long as you can, and when it goes, it goes."
Sherman was asked if he thought the rupture might have occurred because the Seahawks were playing four days after a 17-14 loss to Washington.
"I don't know," he said. "There was a lot of stress on it. I think it would have gone eventually, anyway. It's part of the game."
Did Sherman consider sitting out a game or two to give the initial injury a chance to heal?
"Every game matters in this league," he said. "You try to go out there and give your teammates all you got. They deserve it."
Carroll said "it tears your heart away" to think that Sherman, 29, will be missing from the Seattle lineup the rest of the season.
"He has been a bastion of consistency and competitiveness and toughness," the Seattle coach said. "He has been an iconic player in this league.
"After he got hurt, he was on the sidelines, coaching guys up, even though he couldn't walk. He's an extraordinary competitor and player. We'll miss the heck out of him."
Russell Wilson said the loss of Sherman will be costly.
"He's as good as it gets — a Hall of Fame corner," said the Seahawks quarterback, who completed 22 of 32 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. "You can't replace Richard Sherman — you just can't do it — but other guys will have to step up."
When a reporter noted teammates were saying how much they'd miss him, Sherman's eyes welled up in tears.
"Got to stay positive," he said. "That's all you can do."
The victory was about perseverance for the Seahawks (6-3), who fought through a rash of injuries and penalties to stay a half-game behind the Rams (6-2) in the NFC West race.
"The guys battled so hard," Carroll said. "Guys were switching spots just to get through this game. We were very fortunate to get this win on the road against a division rival."
Seattle held Arizona (4-5) to 34 yards rushing. Adrian Peterson's numbers — 21 carries for 29 yards — were almost impossibly bad.
After being acquired from New Orleans last month, Peterson had rushed for 134 yards in a win over Tampa Bay and 159 on a career-high 37 carries last week against San Francisco. The 32-year-old veteran had virtually no holes through which to maneuver Thursday night.
"The defense did a fantastic job of stopping what (the Cardinals) wanted to do — the run," Carroll said. "That's the discipline, the attention to details. Tough, one play after another."
The Cardinals had only 90 of their 290 yards total offense in the first half, the Seahawks going into intermission with a 15-7 lead.
But Seattle's offense didn't have much to offer, either, even against an Arizona team that came into the game ranked 23rd in the league in total defense. The Seahawks rushed for 75 yards and Wilson, running for his life on several occasions, was sacked six times.
Then there were the penalties — 12 for 108 yards. Against the Redskins, Seattle sustained 16 infractions, second-most in team history and most by the club in 33 years. The Seahawks lead the NFL in penalties with 94 and are on pace to break the NFL record of 163 set by the Raiders in 2011.
Seattle might have lost if not for a sensational — and altogether fortuitous — play early in the fourth quarter while clinging to a 15-10 lead.
On second-and-21 from the Seattle 44, Wilson found no receivers open while rolling left. He skirted pressure from two pass-rushers, did a pair of 360-degree pirouettes and let one fly for receiver Doug Baldwin. As Baldwin came back for the ball, Arizona safety Antoine Bethea — who was in coverage — slipped and fell. Baldwin raced 54 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Arizona 2-yard line.
On the next play, Wilson found tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone for a TD and a 22-10 advantage.
"Phenomenal play between Russ and Doug," Carroll said. "I can't wait to see it again. Seemed like it took forever. It was an ignitor. We needed to get separate in the score."
The Seahawks move along in their quest to make the playoffs with a new sling of injuries, including defensive ends Jarren Reed (hamstring) and Frank Clark (thigh) and offensive tackle Duane Brown (ankle). Safety Earl Thomas (hamstring), who has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, is expected to return for the Seahawks' next game against Atlanta on Oct. 20. But safety Kam Chancellor suffered a stinger Thursday night, and with Sherman out, the secondary is suddenly paper thin.
Five of the seven remaining opponents — Atlanta (4-4), Philadelphia (8-1), the Rams (6-2), Jacksonville (5-3) and Dallas (5-3) — are .500 or better.
With the Seahawks, it has been a war of attrition in recent weeks. And now, one of their most fervent warriors is no longer in the field of battle.