After downing the Washington Redskins in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks are as hot as any team in the National Football League. They are also rapidly developing a reputation as one of the league's rising young teams.
However, whether rightly deserved or not, the Seahawks are also garnering a reputation as one of the NFL's dirtiest teams.
That reputation picked up some steam after Sunday's victory. As Jim Corbett of USA Today reports, Redskins fullback Darrel Young accused the Seahawks of taking cheap shots at runningback Alfred Morris, insisting that defensive tackle Red Bryant tried to stomp on the rookie tailback.
"There was a cheap shot — Red Bryant tried to step on him after a play and hit him in the head,'' Redskins fullback Darrel Young said Monday. "Alfred Morris is one of the nicest guys you'll meet. We'll see them again. When Alfred comes to the sideline cursing, you've got a problem because this is a kid who doesn't curse.''
Also, cornerback Richard Sherman---who already has something of a reputation for jawing at opposing teams during games---was involved in a postgame shouting and shoving match with Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams.
Young said Sherman was the chippiest, lippiest Seahawks player. Sherman said Williams came up to him after the game and said, 'I'll swing on you.'" So, Sherman said, he told Williams to take his best shot. Williams responded with an open palm to the face.
This isn't the first time this season that Sherman has been involved in an altercation with an opposing player after a game. After the Seahawks defeated the New England Patriots in October Sherman was caught on camera getting in the face of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and the second-year pro wasn't shy about why he did it according to USA Today's Nate Davis.
"Every TV timeout, I went up and said it right to (Brady): 'Please keep trying me. I'm going to take it from you.' That was when they were winning. He just gave me that look and said, 'Oh, I'll see you after game.' Well, I made sure I saw him after the game," said excitable Sherman.
Sherman's supporters will say that he plays with passion. His detractors will say that he's immature and classless. Neither makes him a dirty player.
However, the fact that both he and batterymate Brandon Browner were suspended four games after testing positive for Adderall is another matter altogether. Sherman successfully appealed his suspension after it was revealed his sample was tainted during the testing process, and while Browner served his suspension Sherman denied all along taking the banned substance.
With that said, let's take off the blinders and be grown-ups about this for a moment. Adderall, a stimulant used in the treatment of ADHD, has become the banned substance du jour for cornerbacks this season. There's a long list of players who have been suspended for it, including Cleveland's Joe Haden, St. Louis' Austin Pettis and New England's Aqib Talib.
Sherman and Browner are most likely guilty as sin; this is simply the reality of the situation.
This also isn't the only time this season that the Seahawks have been accused of chippy play. After a September victory over the Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher told Calvin Watkins of ESPN that the Seahawks took cheap shots throughout the game.
"If you watch football, that’s the way they play," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "They cut, they hit you after the play, that’s the way they're built. It's not a surprise to us. We knew it was coming. It was a war out there. At the end of the day, they won. So I'm just ready to put it behind us and forget about it and get ready for the next team."
Once again, supporters of the team will say that this is just sore losers whining after getter beat, while others will point to the pair of incidents as evidence that the Seahawks are a dirty team.
It's worth noting that if you use personal foul penalties as a benchmark then by no means are the Seattle Seahawks the NFL's "dirtiest" team. That distinction would go to the Baltimore Ravens, who have accrued 14 such flags this season, more than twice as many as any other NFL team.
In fact, that same Washington team that complained about Seattle's play ranks second with six.
Then there's the matter of the two game stretch in December where in successive blowouts the Seahawks threw deep on 4th-and-23 against the Arizona Cardinals and ran a fake punt against the Buffalo Bills, both times with huge leads in the fourth quarter.
Some called it running up the score, while others simply called it playing the game until the end.
At the end of the day are the Seattle Seahawks a "dirty" football team? Probably no more so than any other team in the NFL.
Every team has players that run afoul of the league, been accused of getting chippy at one time or another and Pete Carroll is hardly the first NFL head coach accused of running up the score.
However, the perception is growing that the Seahawks are dirty, and you know the old saying about perception being reality.
Of course, the reality also is that if this season ends with the Seattle Seahawks hoisting the Lombardi trophy then Carroll, the team and its' fans aren't going to give a damn what the rest of the NFL thinks.
Hey, it worked for the Oakland Raiders.