Cliff Avril was absolutely spent. No wonder: he and his defense had just battled for a record 95 plays.
Yet the Seahawks’ 30-year-old defensive end was still able to produce a smile. That was more than what many of his teammates could do. They were literally drained, going through a long line of intravenous-fluid bags and an epic in the desert.
“It was such a roller coaster. It was crazy,” Avril said of Seattle’s 6-6 overtime tie at Arizona Sunday night.
He and his unit played those 95 snaps — yet did not yield a touchdown. That’s an NFL record for a defense’s time on the field in a game without allowing a touchdown.
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“Yeah, five quarters. We did play a whole five quarters,” Avril said, shaking his head.
“Yeah, so I’ll be chilling this week.”
On Monday, his coach signed off on that idea.
Hours after the Seahawks (4-1-1) returned home at 3 a.m., Pete Carroll outlined Seattle’s Job One for this week.
“Right now, it’s about recovering,” Carroll said.
“We just about had to drag guys off the field. … These guys couldn’t walk off the field because they were drained so much.”
Yet the Seahawks dragged themselves away from the desert the way they arrived on Saturday: alone in first place. They remain 1 1/2 games ahead of Arizona (3-3-1) in the NFC West.
Sunday night, Carroll didn’t know what impact the tie could have on Seattle’s playoff chase, because he’d never been in one in 20 years as a head coach.
By Monday, Carroll had come to a conclusion on ties — a favorable one.
“It really comes down to the winning percentage. When your winning percentage is where it is right now, we’d be pretty happy with that at the end of the year,” he deadpanned. “We’ll see what happens, if it could weigh in or not. But the good thing is we didn’t knock it down at all.
“We’re still in first place and we’re in a position to control everything we want to control.”
Carroll joked: “I don’t think if you tie out for the rest of the year it’s going to work out that way, but with one tie on your schedule, I think maybe you can survive it.”
The coach noted the Seahawks “didn’t get banged up much.” The only major injury was left tackle Bradley Sowell’s sprained knee that may keep him out “a few weeks.” Carroll said Sowell will not require surgery.
The team? It will require rest as much as preparation this week.
“There will be a recovery mode here that we make sure we have to be in to make sure we come out of it and come out strong, fast and ready to play this next weekend,” Carroll said.
Ah, yes, there is no break for Seattle from its exhausting Sunday night. The Seahawks’ bye came two weeks ago. They have 10 more games over 10 consecutive weekends to end the regular season.
The guys who were getting IVs and needing help shuffling across the locker room Sunday night met for film work and more treatment Monday. On Tuesday they get their normal day off. They return to practice Wednesday. Friday they leave for New Orleans and Sunday’s test against Drew Brees. Brees and the high-flying Saints offense won’t be giving Seattle’s defense sympathy.
Or rest. New Orleans is 2-4 and desperate.
Not that the players were thinking about. Not yet. For many Seahawks, just walking and talking at full strength Monday was an improvement.
The team’s medical staff basically had a triage unit going later in Sunday night’s game. Water and Gatorade weren’t enough. Intravenous fluids were how middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was able to make a game-high 14 tackles and block a field goal, Hercules style, by high and broad jumping over the snapper. IVs were how other key defenders stayed on the field for Arizona’s whopping 46:21 of possession time.
After it ended, Wagner limped while helping an also-limping Richard Sherman to his locker.
“Yeah, they were active,” Carroll said of the Seahawks’ medical staffers. “The shuttle they did with Bobby, running him in and getting him juiced up and bringing him back out. He sat out one play and got back in and played. That was phenomenal — just to keep our guys safe. The biggest issue (Sunday) night was just to make sure they were safe.
“They were unbelievably tough, those guys were unbelievably tough. Your body goes through some other realms when it gets dehydrated. Those guys had to make through like they did.”
One guy who could have kept going: quarterback Russell Wilson. He and the Seahawks’ offense were on the field for just 29 of the game’s 75 minutes.
“I can play all night. I was ready to go back out there again,” he said after the game.
Wilson was still playing with a brace over the left knee ligament he sprained a month earlier and heavy tape on the right ankle he sprained during Sept. 11’s opener. He completed 24 of 37 throws for 225 yards, but looked uncomfortable and out of rhythm.
Sunday was the third time in six games he didn’t produce a passing or a rushing touchdown. Before this season he’d had only five games in the previous three years in he produced zero scores.
Wilson said there should never be ties in the NFL. His solution if still tied after the extra period? Have a second coin toss and begin without a kickoff at the opposing team’s 35-yard line going in; first team wins.
“I know if you were in the Super Bowl, you’d continue to play the game,” Wilson said, “so I think it should be consistent either way.
“You play all those games. You play all those hours. You practice all those hours. You watch all that film. It’s better than a loss though, so I’ll take the tie. But, I just think that there’s got to be a better way. So that’s just my opinion.”
But this week the Seahawks’ exhausted veterans may not be practicing all those hours. At least not the ones on defense.
“I really don’t know how to feel. I’ve never ended a game in a tie before,” Wagner said. “It’s not something we’re happy about.
“I wish we had more time to play, but at the end of the day it’s not a loss. So I guess we’ll take it for what it is.”
As for potential replacements for Sowell at left tackle, Carroll mentioned backup guard J’Marcus Webb and starting right tackle Garry Gilliam. Webb started at left tackle for 32 consecutive games in the 2011 and ’12 seasons for Chicago, his second and third seasons in the league. Gilliam was at left tackle this spring in minicamps and the start of training camp, until Webb lost his first-team right tackle job to injury and ineffectiveness. … Carroll said lead running back Thomas Rawls is going to run this week to test his cracked fibula he got Sept. 18 at Los Angeles. If that goes well, the plan is for Rawls to play Nov. 6 in the Monday night home game against Buffalo. He hasn’t played since Week 2. … Carroll said rookie defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson needs knee surgery.