Subtle, it was not. Stylish, it was not.
But that doesn’t mean it was bad, either.
For all the problems the NFL has had putting entertaining games on in prime time this year, the Cardinals and Seahawks delivered a beauty, though it’s admittedly in the eye of the beholder.
And if you watched them pummel each other for a 6-6 tie, you probably have a black eye just from being close to such a physical game.
From Cardinals coach Bruce Arians complaining at halftime about his receivers being held, to the Seahawks defense running on fumes (because their offense couldn’t do anything), both teams were gassed by the end of this one because of the start-to-finish bludgeoning. There were more punts than points (15-12), a pair of missed game-winning field goals in overtime, and that’s not for everyone.
It wasn’t the kind of game that will make fantasy players happy, but it’s also the kind of game we need from time to time, to cleanse the palate, to remember there’s a part of the game that can’t be quantified.
Unless you count copays, and the amount of ice both teams are going to need after this one.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can talk all he wants about being healthy.
But he’s not (Source: My two eyes).
Wilson’s been dealing with a high ankle sprain and a sprained MCL (different legs), and it’s clearly impacted his ability to be a component of the Seahawks running game.
Of course, they were adjusting that anyway without Marshawn Lynch this year (and Thomas Rawls‘ recovery from a broken leg), but the lack of Wilson’s normal ability to scramble is clear. He was limited to one carry for minus-2 yards and the Seahawks only managed 130 yards in regulation.
The field goal drive in overtime was OK (though the third-down throw-away was a little bizarre), but the Seahawks don’t have enough players on offense, and Wilson isn’t well enough to bail them out.
2. On the other hand, Cardinals running back David Johnson continues to contribute in many ways.
Johnson had 113 yards rushing and another 58 receiving, on a night when no one else was getting anything done.
He has now gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in seven straight games, the consistent part of their offense. At a time when the Cardinals are running low on reliable receiving targets, they need him more than ever.
3. The Seahawks already had problems with their offensive line. But an injury to left tackle Bradley Sowell in the fourth quarter underscored how thin they actually are.
Sowell was carted off with some degree of leg injury.
Undrafted rookie George Fant replaced him at left tackle for the pivotal final minutes of regulation.
The Seahawks have been changing tires on that particular moving car since last season, with very little resembling stability up front. And when a solid-not-spectacular player such as Sowell creates serious issues with his absence, it speaks to the pre-existing condition.
With Wilson not well and the running game not working, it’s the kind of thing that could snowball and turn into an even bigger problem in a hurry.
4. The Cardinals have some major issues on special teams.
Letting Bobby Wagner hurdle your line (and the first was a clean play, the OT one, maybe not) was one thing. But a blocked punt late was the extent of the offense Seattle was going to muster, and the missed field goal in overtime was the kind of play that could linger beyond a single game.
When you’re operating on a fine margin as they were Sunday night, it could be a killer, and they figure to have some close games in front of them.
5. On a night when defenses dominated, a guy the Cardinals were expecting to have a bigger role was not to be heard from.
First-rounder Robert Nkemdiche hasn’t been active on a regular basis, and didn’t contribute anything visible.
The 29th overall pick had elite talent at Ole Miss, but fell to the Cardinals with the 29th pick because of teams being scared of off-field issues. Many thought he’d flourish on the Cardinals defense, but he’s not made a good impression. Coach Bruce Arians has taken a few swipes at him in press conferences, and he hasn’t exactly responded.
The Cards were willing to give 2015 first-rounder D.J. Humphries a red-shirt year, as he wasn’t even active last year. And Nkemdiche might become a value pick for them, but he hasn’t shown signs of it yet.