The Seattle Seahawks may have beaten their division rivals on Thursday night, but their team lost a key piece to their stellar defense. In the 22-16 win against the Arizona Cardinals, Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles and is going to require season-ending surgery.
Sherman addressed the media this morning. He was wearing a boot on his right foot and was on crutches as he made his way to the podium.
“We just have to stay positive,” Sherman said through a choked-up voice when asked about the mood in Seattle’s locker room after his injury. “That’s all you can do.”
Losing Sherman deals a huge blow to Seattle’s Super Bowl hopes. He has been one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks since entering the league in 2011 and a face of the Seahawks defense for years. Sherman has never missed a single game in his seven-year career. Only William Gay (168 games) and Brandon Carr (153 games) have longer active streaks at the cornerback position. Since Sherman was drafted by Seattle on the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, their defense has been ranked first in opponent QB Rating (49.4), first in yards allowed per game (300.1), and first in passing yards allowed per game (203.6). The Seahawks have also been first in touchdown-to-interception ratio (0.81) and Sherman has had 32 of those interceptions. His 32 career interceptions are six more than any other player since 2011, and this includes the fact that quarterbacks usually throw less to his side of the field.
The Seahawks have a better replacement option at cornerback this year than they did at free safety last year, when Steven Terrell was pressed into action having never started a game in his career. Jeremy Lane, who was benched earlier this season in favor of rookie Shaquill Griffin, then was nearly traded, will move back into a starting role. Hopefully they play well for Seattle, but they won’t be on Sherman’s level. Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media with, “I don’t even know how to address that right now,” Carroll said when asked about losing a player who has been such a constant for six-plus seasons. “He’s been just a bastion of consistency and competitiveness and toughness through all of the stuff that we’ve worked through together and all of it. It’s been awesome. It’s been hard, it’s been challenging and he’s been an extraordinary, almost an iconic player in this league. So he’s going to have to sit.
Carroll then became emotional as he continued talking.
“I’ll try not to go overboard on this, but that’s just the way I feel about it,” he said. “We’ll miss the heck out of him. He’ll be with us every step of the way when he can, but we’ll miss the heck out of him.”
Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner had this to say. “It’s going to be tough,” Wagner said. “Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the league. There’s no doubt about it. When he’s out there, nobody even looks to throw to that side. If he’s out, it’s going to be tough, but we have the players to step up and hopefully he does something miraculous and comes back.”
For the second straight year, the Seahawks will be without a top player in their secondary. Last year it was Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas who had a season-ending leg fracture. Seattle’s defense didn’t play well without him.
And as if losing Sherman wasn’t bad enough. After Russell Wilson took a pay cut for Seattle go to out and trade for left tackle Duane Brown, he sprained his ankle in the second quarter last night and didn’t return to the game. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed left with a hamstring injury, and running back C.J. Prosise left with an ankle injury. Then late in the fourth quarter, Seahawks defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Frank Clark collided with each other and had to leave the game.
Seattle’s win did put them at 3-0 on their division as they battle with the Los Angeles Rams for the division title. It is going to be a tougher season without Sherman covering his half of the field.
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