If you love suspect coaching, horrible special teams and offensive football before the advent of the forward pass, all sandwiched around superb defense, Sunday night's Seahawks-Cardinals game was your Super Bowl.
Added bonus: There was overtime, all 15 minutes of it, and the proceedings, mercifully, ended in a 6-6 tie after kickers for both teams botched imminently makeable, potential game-winners. For the glass-half-full football aficionado, this game had everything. For the NFL, which is in the midst of a ratings crisis and prefers points to punts, this was no doubt a nightmare. But who knows, maybe the novelty of a game in the year of our Lord two-thousand sixteen ending with each team managing just six points was such a novelty that the morbidly curious tuned in for the duration.
While we wait for the ratings to come out, here are six takeaways from that magical evening.
1. (Not very) fun facts
- This was the first tie without a touchdown since 1972, when the Eagles and Cardinals tied 6-6.
- The Seahawks had five first downs in regulation -- all of regulation -- which would have been the lowest first-down total of the season. Thanks to overtime, however, Seattle ended with 11 first downs.
- This is the lowest scoring overtime tie in NFL history.
- This is the first tie since 2014, when the Panthers-Bengals game ended 37-37.
- Since the modern overtime rules were created in 1974, this is the 21st time a game has ended in a tie.
- Last, least:
There have been 3 games this season with fewer than 10 points scored in the first 3 quarters— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 24, 2016
All 3 involved the Seahawks
2. The Cardinals had several chances to win
The Cards led in time of possession, 46:21 to 28:39. They also ran 90 plays to the Seahawks' 57. But to Seattle's credit, the defense was dominant, so much so that it was the only reason they were in the game at all down the stretch. Still, you have to wonder what Bruce Arians was thinking late in the fourth quarter when Seattle faced a second-and-30 from their own 28 with 41 seconds to go. Arizona had all its timeouts, and, instead of using them, let the clock run out and played for overtime.
It seemed like a weird decision at the time, but that became a distant memory when the Cardinals won the toss and promptly marched down the field on a nine-play drive that ended in a Chandler Catanzaro field goal and a 6-3 (!) lead. Of course, on the next drive, the Seahawks' offense finally showed signs of life and Stephen (not Steven, it turns out) Hauschka returned the favor with a field goal of his own.
And then things got weird.
On the next drive, the Cardinals got down to the Seahawks' 1-yard line on a 4-yard David Johnson run set up by a 40-yard J.J. Nelson reception. But instead of kicking right away, they ran another play, then got a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty, which set up a 24-yarder for the win!
That. Really. Happened.
Not to be outdone, eight plays and 70 yards in the other direction, Hauschka, defying the laws of physics, doinked a 28-yarder, which led to the greatest, saddest series of Pete Carroll Faces seen this side of Super Bowl XLIX.
And for completeness:
3. Bruce Arians isn't super-pumped about how things ended up
Anytime you have an offense built to score points and you squander one opportunity after the next (mostly because of special teams), frustrations are likely to boil over. Which brings us to Bruce Arians' postgame press conference. The Cardinals' first drive of the second quarter ended with a Catanzaro blocked field-goal attempt, courtesy of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.
There seemed to be some confusion because Wagner, channeling the ghost of Troy Polamalu, leap-frogged the Cardinals' center -- and grazed him with his foot in the process -- before landing in the backfield, leaping, and blocking the kick with his chest. Arians thought there should be a flag because of arcane rules about what a player can and can't do in that situation.
But as it turns out, Wagner did nothing wrong.
In #SEAvsAZ you have to land on the player for it to be a foul. The block was legal.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) October 24, 2016
Afterward, Arians wasn't impressed (warning, there's some naughty language):
Bruce Arians is out here going for the jugular pic.twitter.com/omMPTGHiO5— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) October 24, 2016
4. Arians and Carroll have different perspectives on their kickers
Make of this what you will:
Bruce Arians on his kicker who missed: "You get paid to make it."— Mitch Goldich (@mitchgoldich) October 24, 2016
Pete Carroll on his kicker who missed: "I love him and he's our guy."
5. The Seahawks' offensive line is in shambles
For as good as the Seahawks' defense was -- and this is an amazing stat -- the offensive line is a Dumpster fire. And you can trace it back to one simple truth: You get what you pay for.
Collinsworth is right. Seattle has the least-expensive OL in the NFL by ~$4.6 million. https://t.co/6fnIyi0Rjk— Yaya Dubin (@JADubin5) October 24, 2016
Then read this:
Here's how cheap the line is pic.twitter.com/SjCZNBXDEQ— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) October 24, 2016
And here's how that translates onto the field:
Exacerbating matters: Wilson isn't completely healthy, and it's limiting his mobility.
Russell Wilson has -2 yards on 5 designed runs this year. He had 201 on 27 a season ago. Injury obviously impacting Seahawks run game #SNF— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) October 24, 2016
The good news is that the Seahawks are still in first place in the division, a game up in the win column over the Cardinals.