Frank Clark was unable to practice last week, and in fact he made a couple of trips to the hospital on the days his Seahawks teammates were practicing, the result of food poisoning that left him dehydrated and in need of multiple rounds of intravenous fluids.
But sick or not, down 12 pounds or not, Clark vowed to be on the field when the Seahawks hosted the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. And the defensive end didn't just keep his word by playing, he was able to play 54 of 66 defensive snaps, the second most among Seahawks defensive linemen, and he came up with a few huge plays in Seattle's 33-31 loss to the Rams.
"He was so sick," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He was in the hospital again on Friday, back in the hospital on Friday for fluids and stuff. It was a really hard week for him, but he made it through and was able to contribute. That was a great effort by him… He had some kind of food poisoning that hit him on Wednesday. He was just sick as a dog. Couldn't get out of bed."
Despite playing at something well below 100 percent, Clark had the speed to beat All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth on a third-down pass rush on Los Angeles' first possession, knocking the ball away from Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Goff recovered and got off a rushed, incomplete pass, so Clark didn't get credit with a sack, but he still effectively ended the Rams possession, leading to what at the time was just their eighth punt of the season.
The next time the Rams had the ball, it was with a very short field, the result of a blocked Michael Dickson punt. But with the Rams trying to take an early lead, Goff's pass to Todd Gurley was broken up by rookie cornerback Tre Flowers, and after linebacker Bobby Wagner also tipped the ball, Clark snagged his first interception and returned it 26 yards.
"That was pretty cool," Clark said. "My rook played some good D, Bobby tipped it—we believe in tips and overthrows in our defensive room—so at the end of the day, with the help of my teammates, I got my first career interception."
In the fourth quarter, Clark helped end another Rams drive, tackling receiver Robert Woods for a 3-yard loss on a running play. So in all, Clark had a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and an interception just two days after being hospitalized for the second time that week.
Clark said he first realized something was wrong during Wednesday morning's walkthrough—he believes the culprit was an undercooked turkey burger—and after meeting with team medical staff, he was sent home, then eventually to the hospital to get one of the eight IVs he would receive over the next few days.
"I lost about twelve pounds but got what I needed back just so I can go out there and compete today," Clark said. "… Eight IV's later and I was back on my feet, and that was the main thing. I just wanted to get my fluids back in me. I know I had lost a lot throwing up. I had been throwing up nonstop for the last, what, 48 hours? Once I knew I got my fluids back, I knew I was going to be able to come out here and compete."
Clark downplayed the significance of playing through an illness, pointing out that he has faced much more significant adversity in his life, including having his father and three other relatives die in a fire earlier this year.
"My wind wasn't where I needed it to be or where I want it to be, but at the end of the day, none of that matters to me man," Clark said. "I looked at my boys, I looked at the people I've lost in my past—losing my father, I lost my father in a fire, you know what I'm saying? At the end of the day, nothing I go through is going to be harder than that, and that's how I look at this football stuff. I can go through anything in life, but it's not going to challenge me like that challenged me, so at the end of the day, me being in the hospital or not, me not being able to practice, I didn't look at that as an excuse for me not to go out there and get the job done on my side and to do what I had to do to be there for my teammates.
"I'm not 100 percent right now with anything I'm going through. I feel like you go through stuff all season. That's why I say none of it matters at the end of the day, you've got to be able to come out here and compete. If you feel for your teammates, if you've got any type of heart, any type of nuts, you'll go out there and compete, no matter what the cause is, no matter what's going on, because you've got people at home who are relying on you. That's how I look at it, I look at it like my family is relying on me to get the job done whether I'm sick or not. My teammates, my rookies, the guys behind me, they're relying me to get the job done, my DBs, Bobby, so I can make it easier for them. And I feel like games like this where we allow it to get away from us, it's on the D-line. When you look down the board and you look at the stats and you see the pressures and the quarterback hits and the sacks aren't where they're supposed to be, I take it personally. So at the end of the day, what I'm going to is go back in there, let everybody know we've got to refocus, get back in the lab and go out to London and prepare and get this W."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 33-31 loss at home in Week 5 of the 2018 NFL season.