Why? This team has the ‘it’ factor. Point blank.
The stifling defense was on display in full force, highlighted by Richard Sherman’s huge tip in the endzone that led to the game-clinching interception by Malcolm Smith. You can debate Sherman’s post-game comments all you want, but when it came down to crunch time, he simply delivered.
And before you ask, I loved every second of Sherman’s post-game tirade. To be honest, I’m surprised more players don’t let the emotions flow freely like that just seconds after some of the biggest games of their lives.
I have nothing but respect for the Peyton Manning’s of the world; the consummate pros who’s every word is tactical and politically correct. After killing yourself out on a football field for three plus hours every Sunday, it must take some wacky act of will power pull off that façade of being completely even-tempered.
But what Sherman gave us on Sunday was a glimpse of the real, uncut jawing and emotions that go on between the lines. What he said to Erin Andrews and Ed Werder was probably as close as we’ll get to hearing things from the perspective of Michael Crabtree.
Let’s be honest: gloating and showing off is part of everyone’s sports experience. If you nail a clutch three pointer in your club basketball game, you’re going to do some taunting and hollering. Give a guy a break if he decides to do the same thing after (literally) single handedly sending his team to the Super Bowl.
How about we hold off on judging Sherman’s character based on what he said immediately post game. There should be an understood degree of separation between the person we see on the field and off of it. Sherman has since apologized, which shows that the Stanford-educated, straight-A high school student knows he may have rubbed some people the wrong way.
But there was no need for the apology. He believes he’s the best corner in the NFL, he’ll tell you all about it… and then he’ll go and show you why. Performance is the ultimate pass. People like Deion Sanders and Ricky Henderson were heralded for being cocky and then backing it up. Sherman should get the same type of respect since he’s been able to back up every single thing he’s said.
What shouldn’t get a pass, however, is the blatant racism and degrading responses being launched at him via social media. But that’s another topic for another day.
Sherman put the icing on the cake of a dominating defensive performance, which is exactly what we should’ve expected from the NFL’s top defense.
The Legion of Boom baited Colin Kaepernick into throwing two picks, the most he’s thrown since… wait for it… he threw three against Seattle in week two. And when the NFL’s leading rushing offense decided to take things to the ground, the Seahawks beat them at their own game.
Kaepernick’s 130 rushing yards skew the stat a bit because a good chunk of those yards weren’t on designed runs. That’s the value of having an athletic quarterback like Kaepernick.
But if you total up the yardage the 49ers gained on designed running plays to halfbacks, you get a grand total of 31 yards.
On the flip side of the ball, Russell Wilson returned to his old self and guided a “mediocre” receiving corps to a win over an equally talented 49ers defense. His 215 yards and 104.6 rating were his highest marks since week 12 of the regular season.
“But he only had one touchdown.”
Whoop-de-do. He kept drives alive with his feet, didn’t make mistakes, and made the most of the limited talent he had around him. And then, just as the plan dictated, he left the rest to Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch definitely had his Skittles pre game because Beast Mode was on full display. 109 yards on 22 carries and a TD is nothing to scoff at against the 49ers. I’d love to see what his yards after contact stat was for this game because he always seems to shed at least one tackler on every run.
And without a headline name to lean on, the Seahawks once again got a strong contribution from the names they randomly pulled out of their wide receiving corps hat. This week, it was Doug Baldwin and a clutch late cameo by Jermaine Kearse. Who will it be in the Super Bowl? It’ll be fun to watch.
But even though I was pulling for the 49ers heading into this game, it’s clear the right team is moving on to represent the NFC. Pete Carroll is using a coaching style that he was told over and over again wouldn’t work at the NFL level, and he’s doing it masterfully. Call him an over-the-top cheerleader type if you’d like, but it’s obviously clicking with this bunch.
I’m sure he’ll be spending the next few weeks cultivating the “us against the world” mentality. But with the amount of talent on this team, the only thing that matters is if the talent believes in itself. If Sherman is any indication, that shouldn’t be a problem.
It almost sounds like I’m waxing poetic. The Legion of Boom, the Skittles, the 12th man, the distinct swag. It all comes together so perfectly.
I’m a believer in the Seattle Seahawks.