Thomas Rawls broke his ankle and is done for the year. Kam Chancellor bruised his tailbone and was done for the game.
DeShawn Shead sprained his ankle. Michael Bennett jammed his toe. The trainers were as active as the players themselves.
A cursory glance might prompt you to think that the Seahawks are in trouble, especially with the void Rawls leaves in the running game. But 13 weeks of evidence suggest otherwise.
Based on the way Seattle has overcome injuries this year, this team should be perfectly fine.
That may sound like an oversimplification, but you can’t ignore what has transpired so far. If one were to say that the Seahawks would be without Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham at the most critical juncture of the season, most fans’ minds would have instantly shifted to 2016. But Seattle not only survived the loss of those titans, it thrived in their absence.
Next man up is one thing. This has been next man up, up and away.
“There is no reason for us to focus on the guys we lost,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We understand and we love those guys, but that’s not where the focus goes. It goes to the next thing that’s in hand.”
Since the middle part of 2011, the Seahawks’ offense was defined by and centered around Lynch as the lead ball carrier. So given quarterback Russell Wilson’s struggles in the early part of the season, you’d have thought Marshawn’s injuries would serve as a death blow to this team’s quest for points.
Instead, it provided the opportunity for Rawls to showcase himself as one of the NFL’s better running backs. The rookie averaged a league-leading 5.6 yards while tallying four 100-yard games. The Seahawks have lost just one game with Rawls as a starter.
Meanwhile, it appeared that the Hawks had finally learned how to consistently incorporate Graham into the offense before he suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. the Steelers in Week 11. The tight end had four receptions for 75 yards before going down early in the fourth quarter and was a key cog behind what many feel was Wilson’s finest regular-season performance.
But to lose him right before the Seahawks go to Minnesota and play what looked to be the toughest road game left on their schedule? Brutal.
Well, brutal for the Vikings at least.
Sans Graham, the Seahawks have scored 92 points in their last nine quarters. They had 38 vs. the Vikings, 35 Sunday vs. the Ravens, and 19 in the final quarter vs. the Steelers. Doug Baldwin has emerged as a Pro Bowl candidate. Tyler Lockett has 13 receptions for 194 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. And Wilson looks like the best damn football player in the world.
It’s been an astonishing turnaround given how Seattle sacrificed a Pro Bowl lineman to acquire Graham in the first place, but perhaps that’s just part of this team’s makeup. At this point, it would be an insult to assume they’d be hampered by injuries.
Of course, it helps that the Seahawks have as close to a break as you can get in the NFL over the next two weeks. The combined record of the Browns (Dec. 20) and the Rams (Dec. 27) is 8-18, and both games will play at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks hope that Wilson will continue to play somewhere close to the stratospheric plane he has been on lately, and that the team can solidify a playoff spot before Lynch comes back. And if Beast Mode is healthy, Seattle may suddenly morph into the most feared team in the NFC playoffs.
But even if health continues to be an issue for this team, it may not impede success. The Hawks have found a way throughout the season. No reason to think they won’t continue doing so moving forward.
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