90 plays, no TDs allowed. "Incredible. Just incredible" Gregg Bell gbell@thenewstribune.com
90 plays, no TDs allowed. "Incredible. Just incredible" Gregg Bell gbell@thenewstribune.com

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks, Cardinals tie in most thrilling awful game in Seattle history

By Gregg Bell

gregg.bell@thenewstribune.com

October 23, 2016 11:08 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz.

Bobby Wagner could barely walk. Richard Sherman couldn’t.

The three-time All-Pro cornerback couldn’t even talk. And for Sherman, that’s saying something.

“It was a grind,” said Wagner, the middle linebacker who had some of the green field that he was all over still on his game pants.

It was also offensive.

Not only to your eyes. Especially to the Seahawks’ defense that faced 90 plays by the Arizona Cardinals and spent more than 46 minutes of this exasperating epic on the field — and did not yield a touchdown.

And even that wasn’t enough to win.

Stephen Hauschka shanked a 28-yard field-goal attempt wide with 7 seconds left in overtime — after Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro had clanked his 24-yard gimme off the left upright to keep overtime going.

“I feel like I let the team down,” said Hauschka, so dependable for years for these Seahawks.

So it ended. Finally. The lowest-scoring regulation game in Seahawks history became the lowest-scoring overtime one, too. And the franchise’s first tie, a wholly unfulfilling 6-6 outcome on a zany Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“An amazing football game,” 65-year-old Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a tie game before.

“My brain doesn’t know where to go on that.”

He’s not alone.

“Two hundred games, including playoffs. I have never played in a game as crazy as this one,” Cardinals veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

The upshot of this unfathomable event is the Seahawks (4-1-1) still haven’t lost in five weeks. They head to New Orleans (2-4) next weekend still 1 ½ games ahead of Arizona (3-3-1) atop the NFC West.

And exhausted.

“I’m going to chill for about a week,” Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril deadpanned, after another monster game.

Avril had 2 ½ of Seattle’s four sacks, plus six hits of Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, two tackles for losses and even two passes defensed.

Carroll marveled about the character of Avril, Sherman, Wagner and the Seahawks defense. They were on the field for the most time ever in an NFL game without giving up a touchdown.

“Incredible,” Carroll said. “Just an incredible display.”

With 2 minutes left in the extra period, Seattle’s Russell Wilson lofted a 31-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse, who ran down the left sideline on third-and-4 to put the Seahawks at the Arizona 43. Suddenly, Seattle’s offense — which had just 47 yards in its worst first half in three years and just 83 total yards with three first downs through three quarters — looked poised to win the game.

On third-and-3 with 1:10 left, Wilson (24 for 37 passing for 255 yards while again limited from running by a sprained knee and sprained ankle) threw quickly left outside to Doug Baldwin. Baldwin ran through one tackle try, sidestepped another Cardinal, and romped to the Arizona 9.

It looked for sure like a Seahawks win. Hundreds of Cardinals fans below the press box thought so. They got up and left, thinking the home team had lost.

Then Hauschka missed.

“We’re going to look at it (Monday), find out what happened, move on — and get better,” said Hauschka, who missed for the second time in 14 field-goal tries this season.

He had extended overtime with a field goal earlier.

Arizona won the coin toss at the start of overtime, and moved from its own 25 across midfield. On third-and-10 at midfield, the Seahawks had to call timeout because they didn’t all know what coverage they were using. After the break, Michael Floyd ran an in route inside soft-playing nickel back Jeremy Lane for an 18-yard gain to the Seattle 32.

Lane had a night as brutal as his team’s offense. He was called for two personal fouls, and missed tackles on two consecutive plays to extend a Cardinals drive in the first half.

That last pass he allowed set up Catanzaro’s 45-yard field goal to give Arizona the 6-3 lead.

Under the NFL overtime rules, changed in 2012, a team can’t take the overtime kickoff and win on a field goal on the first drive. So the Seahawks had a chance to match — to extend the game or win it.

Hauschka did that, retying the game at 6-6.

Arizona’s first play of the ensuing drive was a 27-yard pass completion to tight end Ifeanyi Momah, over a trailing Wagner. The Cardinals were instantly at the Seattle 48.

Two plays later, third-and-7, the Seahawks sent a linebacker blitz versus no backs and Arizona’s five wide receivers. But the pass rush didn’t get to the 36-year-old Palmer. That gave receiver J.J. Nelson enough time to run a deep in route that beat three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman turned bad to worse by missing the immediate tackle, and Nelson ran for a 40-yard gain to the Seahawks 5.

Catanzaro should have won it with a chip-shot field goal from 24 yards. But his kick clanged off the left upright back onto the field.

The Seahawks dodged their second short field-goal bullet since January. And it wasn’t 20 below zero in the desert. Blair Walsh was nowhere in the state.

With the Seahawks needing something — anything — to aid their sickly offense in the fourth quarter, they got it from an undrafted free agent and former Wisconsin quarterback, running back and wide receiver that Seattle tried at safety in spring minicamps.

Tanner McEvoy steamed through Arizona blocking back Kerwynn Williams, reached up with his arm and hand and blocked Ryan Quigley’s punt with 4:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. Cassius Marsh recovered, and Seattle had the ball at the Arizona 22.

But the eighth accepted penalty on Seattle, this one on tight end Brandon Williams for holding, ruined what would have been a 7-yard gain on first down to the 15. Backed up, the Seahawks were fortunate to get Hauschka’s 40-yard field goal, which he punched and willed low over the crossbar to tie the game at 3-3.

The 3-3 tie was the fewest points in regulation for any Seahawks game.

Arizona had 15 of the game’s first 18 first downs, and Wilson completed 10 of his first 19 passes — including one to himself, after Arizona battled a ball back to him.

Seattle’s first nine possessions ended like a bad poem: Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.

Arizona kept packing defenders near the line of scrimmage and swarming on early downs, creating third-and-long situations. How long? How about third-and-29 for the Seahawks at their own 1-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.

That was after Arizona’s Chandler Jones sped in off the edge and sacked Wilson while knocking the ball back 20 yards for a fumble. Seattle left guard Mark Glowinski covered it at the 1 to save a Cardinals touchdown or safety.

“We’ve got to do better,” Christine Michael said after 16 carries for 52 yards. “The defense played lights out for us.

“I feel like we beat ourselves.”

But, ultimately, not really.

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