Richard Sherman might have made the headlines with his postgame antics last Sunday, but he managed to bury the lead with those. His Seattle Seahawks had the No. 1 pass defense in football, and it wasn't all his doing. Safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are All-Pros in their own right.
This should be something to watch.
Sherman might have led the NFL with eight interceptions, but in order to get those as the self-proclaimed best shutdown corner in football, quarterbacks have to actually be lured to throw your way. They did that against him this season because challenging Chancellor and Thomas in the middle of the field was just as dicey.
Without the presence of Chancellor and Thomas, Sherman might not be able to be so boastful.
Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, a Seahawks analyst, praised Thomas' play to USA Today's Jim Corbett:
Earl covers a lot of ground. I call Earl a heat-seeking missile because he is always where the football is—a missile guided to the football because he's become such a good student of the game. He'd have more interceptions, but quarterback aren't trying him deep anymore.
Brock Huard, who was once Manning's backup in Indianapolis and is now an ESPN radio analyst in Seattle, agreed. He knows both sides of this incredible Super Bowl matchup as well as anyone. He told Corbett this week:
Earl is a difference maker. I remember [former Seahawks quarterback] Matt Hasselbeck saying when Earl was a rookie making plays in training camp, 'I still don't know how he did that, because guys aren't supposed to be able to go from point A to B that fast.'
Earl changes what you're seeing from the quarterback position. ... That will be a bigger deal if it's a windy, cold day because Peyton's velocity is not what it used to be. Peyton is going to have to be very, very careful with the kind of angles Earl can take because his speed is unlike any safety in today's game.
While Sherman (6'3", 195 lbs) figures to be matched up a lot on the Denver Broncos' No. 1 threat, Demaryius Thomas (6'3", 235 lbs), Earl Thomas and Chancellor will have the task of dealing with the rest of the Manning targets that helped the Denver quarterback achieve 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdown passes.
A team like Seattle, one that boasts a great pass rush and three of the best defensive backs in football, has the best chance of limiting Manning and the Broncos. If not for Brandon Browner's year-ending suspension, the Seahawks would have an elite defender at each of the four base defensive secondary positions. Replacement starting right corner Byron Maxwell and nickel corner Walter Thurmond are tasked with filling Browner's shoes.
Chancellor and Thomas have also stepped forward. Thomas was a Pro Football Writer's Association All-NFL pick each of the past two seasons, and Chancellor was selected to the Pro Bowl, a game he will miss Sunday because of a date in New York on Feb. 2.
While Sherman puts his boom into the mic, and Earl Thomas on the stopwatch with his quickness, Chancellor brings the boom with this physicality—a speak softly but bring a big stick kind of guy.
Chancellor explains to The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta:
Pretty much I just show my passion for the game. That's pretty much it. When I go out there, all of these hard hits and laying dudes out, that's just my passion for the game. That's just showing how much I love this game, and just continuing to show how you're supposed to play this game. ...
... Once you learn the proper technique to tackle you can get your feet under you and you can explode through anybody.
Chancellor puts the strong in strong safety, while Earl Thomas dashes through the secondary with 4.37 speed. Thomas told Clare Farnsworth of the Seahawks' official website:
I think we're the best tandem in the league right now, just because of the chemistry and connection that we have. And I think it started when I put my pride aside and said, 'This guy is just as good as me, you know, so why not open up to him and tell him all of me.' Tell him like, 'Man, if you see me doing this, please let me know, because on game day I definitely don't want to be in that position to hurt the team.'
So when you just really be humble about the situation and really let guys into your world, good stuff like that happens. It's a respect factor.
In a very non-Earl Thomas-like way, Sherman felt he needed to earn his respect with his postgame rant to Erin Andrews. Check it out for yourself here:
Unlike the boastful Sherman and more similarly to Thomas, Chancellor lets his play and hits do the talking. Seattle defensive backs coach Kris Richard told Farnsworth:
What really stands out about Kam is his character. He's an awesome, genuine human being. He's the big brother of the secondary, and he's kind of the enforcer, obviously. There's just a tremendous impact he has with his level of humility, in regards to his style of play. He's an awesome combination of an awesome young man, an intelligent football player and a fierce hitter out there.
Sometimes you can figure out quickly where a player's heart is right after a game. Sherman had plenty of heart after the NFC Championship Game. He also had a lot of "I" in his comments.
Guys like Thomas and Chancellor had nothing but "we" in theirs. Thomas mentioned "I" once in this following postgame interview video...but it was to say, "I am excited to be a part of it."
Maybe, just maybe, if Manning and Demaryius Thomas can do some damage against the overly boastful Sherman—yet the Seahawks still manage to win—the likes of Chancellor and Earl Thomas will get the respect they deserve.
"I really learned a lot this season about expressing myself—get out of your bubble," Thomas, a refreshing introvert, told USA Today's Corbett. "I'm coming. I'm trying to take over the world."
If you make the play to win the Super Bowl, though, just don't go making the mistake Sherman made. That is a tired act. Be your own, humble champion.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.
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