Three days after the Seattle Seahawks' playoff win in Minnesota, the physical toll that game took on punter Jon Ryan was still very evident on his face. But even after an awkward face plant and the broken nose that came with it, Ryan still had his sense of humor Wednesday and he and the rest of the Seahawks began their practice week in preparation for Sunday's divisional round game at Carolina.
"It really didn't hurt," Ryan said of the injury. "It probably helped that it was frozen for four hours. It didn't hurt, doesn't hurt now… And I'm too dumb to feel pain is the other half of that."
Ryan, who last postseason threw a touchdown pass that helped spark an NFC championship game comeback, didn't have as much success as a runner as he did as a passer, but even though it may have looked in retrospect like he would have had more success trying to run around Vikings tacklers rather than hurdle them, he won't second-guess himself.
"It was one of those plays you hope never happens," Ryan said. "Low snap, I believed when I got it, if I would have kicked it, it would have been blocked, so I thought it was the right decision. It opened up, then you've just got to trust your instincts. As an athlete, you never second-guess your instincts, and my instinct was to run it up the middle, then when it closed off, I did my best hurdling attempt. Maybe run left, run right would have worked better, but as I tell all the Monday morning quarterbacks, this isn't Madden, I couldn't just press L2 and jump outside. I'm a middle-aged white guy, it doesn't quite work that way."
Asked if his American Ninja Warrior training helped him on that play, Ryan said, "Apparently not."
Bloodied and broken, Ryan's immediate concern was making sure he could finish the game, which he did, but he also wanted to locate his fiancé, standup comic and author Sarah Colonna, in the crowd so she could see he was OK.
"My first concern was obviously getting back in the game, and secondly—I knew where she was sitting—so I wanted to make sure she could see me and knew I was OK," Ryan said. "Then I was like, 'Man, I'm going to look like hell in the wedding pictures, so I've got to get this thing cleaned up.'"
While Ryan made fun of himself on Twitter earlier this week, his brother Steve beat him to the punch, posting this while the team was on its way home Sunday:
"That's how we express love in our family," Ryan said. "We just bust each other's chops when terrible things happen to one another."
Jokes aside, Ryan was able to come back into the game and not only punt, but serve as the holder on what ended up being the game-winning Steven Hauschka field goal. And while holding is a job that often gets overlooked, it was an important one on a day when the conditions made everything difficult. And while Vikings kick Blair Walsh didn't blame his holder for his miss at the end of the game, the laces of the ball were facing in, which is not ideal for the kicker.
"It can be hard," Ryan said of the process of catching the snap, spotting it, then spinning the ball to get the laces out. "Especially in weather like that where your fine motor skills aren't as sharp as they could be. It's a little bit harder to use your fingers, things are moving a little bit slower. Things like that are often taken for granted by most people are kind of escalated in a game like that."
Team photographer Rod Mar traveled with the Seahawks on their first leg of the playoffs to Minnesota and took these photos for this week's photo essay, featuring the nail-biting win over the Vikings in the Wild Card matchup.