The Seattle Seahawks secured home-field advantage on Sunday with a win over the St. Louis Rams, but their Super Bowl dreams may have taken a small hit. The Seahawks suffered a large number of minor injuries in that game, and they already had a full injury report.
The most serious of the new injuries was to tight end Luke Willson. He was carted off the field in the second half with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.
Willson has been seeing an increased number of snaps in the passing game due to Seattle's problems at wide receiver, but now appears to be headed for injured reserve.
Carroll said that Luke Willson did NOT break his ankle, thinks it might be a high ankle sprain. #STLvsSEA— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 30, 2013
Cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Richard Sherman both got dinged up as well.
Officially, Sherman just got "whacked in the head," but he was limping badly when he came off the field following a collision with teammate Earl Thomas. Sherman returned to the game and continued to play well, but the Seahawks cannot afford to have their All-Pro corner at less than 100 percent in the playoffs.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane left the game in the second half with a strained groin and did not return. Mebane would be a huge loss if he cannot play or is less than 100 percent for the playoff game in two weeks.
The Seahawks have no true backup on the roster who can do the things Mebane does against both the run and pass, so it would be a massive blow if he was unavailable.
Mebane with a strained groin, Sherman whacked his head but able to return to game.— Liz Mathews 710 ESPN (@Liz_Mathews) December 30, 2013
All of these new injures are compounded by the long list of players that are currently on team's injury report.
On top of wide receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker KJ Wright, who missed Sunday's game, the Seahawks listed nine other players who were limited and all of them are either starters or play key roles for Seattle.
The most significant of those players would be left tackle Russell Okung. He aggravated his toe injury a week ago against the Cardinals and was obviously hampered by the injury this week against the Rams.
Okung struggled to contain St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn and clearly did not have his usual quickness and agility in this game.
The concern would be that all of these nagging injuries begin to add together to hurt the team's overall effectiveness. Having so many players playing at less than 100 percent could create a situation where the team begins to play below its talent level.
This has already become a problem at wide receiver.
Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin have been out, and the addition on Jermaine Kearse to the list of the walking wounded has further complicated things.
Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters, who were both signed off the street midseason, have both been playing meaningful snaps for the Seahawks. It should come as no surprise that Seattle's passing game has faltered recently.
This is why securing the first-round bye was so important for Seattle. The Seahawks now have an extra week for players to heal and get ready to play. Even with the bye, the Seahawks will be limping into their next game with an overpopulated injury report.
The Seahawks have arguably the NFL's deepest roster, but that depth is being tested by all of these injuries.
Seahawks Postgame Press Conference