SEATTLE -- A home game against a four-win Arizona Cardinals stood in the way of a chance of a first-round bye and possible No. 1 overall seed in the NFC next Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
That four-win Cardinals team had to play most of the second half without starting quarterback Kyler Murray, who left the game with a hamstring injury and was unable to return as well. But the four-win Cardinals completely dominated a banged up Seahawks unit on Sunday afternoon in handing Seattle a 27-13 defeat that could have far-reaching implications as the team heads toward the postseason.
The Seahawks entered the game down four starters to injury and another to suspension. Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise each left the game with injuries in the first half and Mike Iupati tried to play through a neck injury as well. The depleted unit was steamrolled by Arizona after one stellar opening drive for a touchdown.
Carson and Prosise are now out with left tackle Duane Brown set to miss time as well.
The loss to the Cardinals left a dent in the team's roster and its outlook for the postseason.
Here are the takeaways from the loss to the Cardinals:
-- Seahawks may now be too injured to make any sort of a significant run in the playoffs.
The Seahawks lost wide receiver Josh Gordon for the season and defensive tackle Al Woods for four games due to suspensions handed down this last week. They lost Prosise for the season to a broken arm and Carson is likely done for the year due to a hip injury sustained on Sunday. Left tackle Duane Brown will have surgery on Monday to address a knee injury that requires cleanup and will sideline him at least a few weeks.
Additionally, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will have surgery after the season to address a core muscle injury that kept him from playing on Sunday with no guarantees it will allow him to play regularly the rest of the way. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin and free safety Quandre Diggs each missed the Cardinals game as well with hamstring and ankle injuries that could keep them out against the 49ers next week, too.
That's a hell of triage list to sift through with one week to go before the playoffs begin and an NFC West title on the line.
Throw in the loss of Justin Britt in late October and the loss of Rashaad Penny two weeks ago and the Seahawks now appear to be remarkably short-handed. At some point the dam is going to burst.
It remains to be seen exactly who Seattle can get back on the field for next week's NFC West title game against the 49ers. Clowney, Griffin and Diggs could presumably get well enough to return and provide a needed boost. Whether that's enough to beat the 49ers for a second time and win the division and the potential spoils that brings is still a tall task.
For a team that could really use the bye week that comes with a top-two seed in the conference, the Seahawks may be too injured to earn that prize next weekend. The loss to Arizona also means that a win over the 49ers no longer guarantees a weekend off either as Seattle could end up as the 3-seed and find themselves playing at home opening weekend unless they get help elsewhere.
-- Offense line struggles to absorb absence of Duane Brown
Jamarco Jones made his first start at left tackle in place of an injured Duane Brown on Sunday and struggled to handle the difficult task of blocking Chandler Jones.
"We had a terrible time today," Carroll said. "Chandler Jones, we went into the game knowing and we tried chipping him and all kind of different things, and we weren't able to keep him out of there. ... There was not one thing because we did a number of things to try to keep him from getting there and he just had a huge day."
Jones finished with four sacks of Wilson and six total hits of the Seattle quarterback on the day.
When Mike Iupati also left the game due to a neck injury in the first half, the Seahawks' line issues were amplified immensely. The cumulative effect of bring without Brown, Iupati and Britt began to spill over. While Iupati managed to return to the game, he wasn't able to play to his full ability the rest of the way.
"He had a stinger," Carroll said of Iupati. "He just sucked it up and he was able to play. They checked him out and said that he was OK. He really did suck it up though."
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf were targeted nine different times with Lockett making the only reception for 12 yards. Carroll said the struggles in protection were the biggest reason for the passing game failures.
"It was really protection related," he said. "We weren't able to get the ball off. We couldn't get the ball out to them. ... Russ couldn't do anything about it. It was a really hard day protection-wise."
Perhaps the Seahawks try George Fant at left tackle next week against the 49ers instead of Jones given the struggles he had against Arizona. It would take Fant out of the mix of being the extra tight end in six offensive lineman packages, but with Luke Willson back the team does have all three of their tight ends healthy.
The Seahawks gained 89 yards on their opening drive and finished with just 224 yards at the end of the day. They didn't convert their first third down until the fourth quarter and went just 1 of 12 in that area for the game. They had nine straight drives where they failed to run more than four plays six three-and-outs and a lost fumble.
-- Game management decisions were curious again in a few instances.
The Seahawks had been carving up the Cardinals defense in the first quarter. They had delivered on an 89-yard touchdown drive to open the game and had picked up a pair of first downs to move into Arizona territory on their second possession before facing a fourth-and-1 at the Cardinals' 33-yard line.
Carroll elected not to attempt a conversion on the short yardage play and sent his field goal team out on the field instead for a 52-yard field goal try. However, the attempt did not get off before Seattle took a delay of game, which moved them into a punting situation instead. While the punt from Michael Dickson was stellar in pinning the Cardinals on their own 1-yard line, the wheels came off from that point forward.
Additionally, the time management at the end of the first half nearly cost Seattle four additional points.
The Cardinals were out of timeouts and even had to take a fourth timeout due to an injury to running back Kenyan Drake. A second down pass to David Johnson was stopped in bounds by Bobby Wagner with under 30 seconds left to play. But despite the clock running and putting pressure on Arizona to either quickly run another offensive play or settle for a field goal try, the Seahawks called a time out to stop the clock with 27 seconds left and ensure another shot at the end zone for the Cardinals.
That opportunity was nearly cashed in by the Cardinals as Kyler Murray and Larry Fitzgerald nearly connected on a 4-yard touchdown pass before the half that would have made it a 21-7 lead. Instead, Arizona finally settled for the 22-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal as the lead remained 17-7 at the break.
In regards to the field goal mishap, Carroll said kicker Jason Myers had seen an issue with the alignment of the line of scrimmage.
"They got messed up up front and he just felt it would be better to take the delay (of game) than to take the time out and I couldn't tell what was going on," Carroll said. "We were supposed to kick the ball there but we didn't. They were messed up up there."
The delay of game penalty made it a 57-yard field goal and Carroll decided to punt at that point. A timeout would have been Seattle's second of the half and would have preserved the 52-yard try or the option to put the offense back on the field as well, which quarterback Russell Wilson said he expected after his third down pass to Jacob Hollister fell incomplete.
"I was thinking it was four-down territory (and) we may go for it," Wilson said.
The Seahawks made the most of the situation with the perfect punt to the 1-yard line but it still felt like a sizable mistake in the moment.
Additionally, Carroll said the decision to call timeout at the end of the half was with an eye on getting the ball back to the offense before halftime.
"It was just to see if we would have enough time to do something with it if we got the ball back," Carroll said. "That's what it amounted to. We wanted to make sure we made the right call, also, in that situation to get out and not let them score a touchdown."
While Carroll obviously wanted to make sure his team was in its best deployment for the third down play, he also allowed the Cardinals to make sure they could do the same. Seattle got away with it because Larry Fitzgerald just couldn't quite keep the ball from jostling in his hands as he hit the turf.
Nevertheless, both circumstances presented somewhat head-scratching moments for the Seahawks on Sunday.
-- Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise injuries leave Seattle scrambling at running back.
The Seahawks lost running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise to injuries in quick succession during the second quarter as Travis Homer had to finish out the game for Seattle.
Prosise was immediately ruled out with his arm injury while Carson was initially deemed questionable to return with a hip injury. Both players headed into the locker room before halftime and did not return.
Prosise is definitively done for year after breaking his arm after taking a shot from the helmet of safety Budda Baker. Carson had been injured on the previous drive as he was tackled at the end of an 8-yard carry.
That injuries leave Seattle without their top three running backs - including Penny - as Week 17 approaches.
"We have to get to scrambling," Carroll said. "Johnny (Schneider)'s got to get to work and figure out what we're doing next. That's a lot of game for Homer to have to play by himself. So, obviously, we will make some moves here and figure some stuff out."
Carroll said Carson's hip injury was similar to that of Lano Hill's injury last season Carroll wasn't certain the injury would end Carson's season but the team will still need reinforcements in the interim.
Xavier Turner is on the practice squad and would be one potential addition. Former Seahawks running back Robert Turbin and Alfred Blue both worked out for the team last week. C.J. Anderson spent time with the Rams through the Super Bowl last season and remains a free agent. And, while it may be a long-shot, Marshawn Lynch isn't with any teams right now either and would have a depth of knowledge of the offense to step in should he be anywhere close to football shape and desiring to play.
But given Seattle's current circumstances, it may be time for long-shots. And the Seahawks themselves may be one now as well after the misfortunes of the last seven days.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 22: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against the defense of strong safety Jalen Thompson #34 of the Arizona Cardinals during the game at CenturyLink Field on December 22, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)