Seahawks-Cardinals was the most absurd game of the 2016 NFL season. Looking at the 6-6 final score, you might assume it was really boring. And for the most part, it was! The game went to overtime, and watching it live it was hard not to assume that it was going to end in a tie given how the preceding 60 minutes had gone. Defense ruled. The Seahawks gained just 130 yards of offense in regulation. The Cardinals gained 326, but also had a punt and field goal blocked to allow the Seahawks to hang around.
Then something incredible happened late night, the type of delirious nuttiness that can only occur after you’ve been watching 13 straight hours of football and had just finally started nodding off. Both offenses sprung to life. Players made plays, coaches made weird coaching decisions, and two professional kickers missed kicks they should make more than 90 percent of the time.
Let’s pick up the action with 5:15 left to play.
5:15 remaining — J.J. Nelson gains 40 yards on a reception down to the Seattle 5-yard line.
I won’t lie to you, the ENTIRE non-Seahawks contingent of the SB Nation newsroom celebrated this play. We have no animosity towards Seattle, but we were very, very sleepy. Nelson appeared to make the biggest play of the night, slipping through defenders before going out of bounds in chip shot range of a game-winning field goal. The Cardinals were on their way to certain victory, and we were about to be able to go to bed.
4:22 remaining — David Johnson runs to the Seahawks’ 1-yard line and almost scores.
In my head, I was begging for head coach Bruce Arians to just line up and kick the damn field goal and not tempt fates by running plays with turnover potential. The Cardinals didn’t turn the ball over, but another curious thing happened: Johnson kinda looked like he got in.
Upon closer inspection, he didn’t.
But it was still weird that rather than review the play, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians decided to run hurry-up and try to sneak in another run to the end zone. Johnson got stuffed, setting up disaster.
3:26 remaining — The DOINK.
The Cardinals accepted a 5-yard delay of game penalty to give Catanzaro a better angle. If they had been closer, they might have made this.
Instead, the 25-yard attempt doinked off the left upright and fell sadly to the turf.
2:00 remaining — Russell Wilson hits Jermaine Kearse for a 31-yard gain to the Cardinals’ 43-yard line.
At this point, that ‘ol fashioned “This is really happening” feeling started to creep in as it often does late in Seahawks games. Funny enough, it’s not the first time Kearse has made a clutch play that didn’t matter.
1:04 remaining — Doug Baldwin takes a short pass 27 yards to within to the Cardinals’ 9-yard line.
After a couple modest gains, the Seahawks appeared to make the fatal strike. The Seahwaks’ two biggest gains on the night both came on the same drive at the moments when the Seahawks most needed them. Wilson has been a late-game maestro throughout his career, with second most game-winning drives of any quarterback since 2012. Finally, it seemed, this game would soon be coming to its merciful end.
0:11 remaining — Hauschka’s 28-yard field goal attempt sails into the cold dark night.
Two plays later, the stupidest game of the 2016 season was over and we got to go to bed.