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Richard Sherman's 10 Best Moments as a Seattle Seahawk

Nathaniel ReevesCorrespondent IMay 9, 2014

Richard Sherman's 10 Best Moments as a Seattle Seahawk

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    Richard Sherman is one of the more divisive players in the NFL, but he has provided the Seahawks with plenty of great moments in his career.
    Richard Sherman is one of the more divisive players in the NFL, but he has provided the Seahawks with plenty of great moments in his career.USA TODAY Sports

    Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the best players in the NFL.

    From his heroic tip to seal the NFC Championship Game to consistently locking down some of the top receivers in the game, Sherman has played a big role in transforming the Seahawks into a Super Bowl champion. He turned that on-field dominance into a record contract last Wednesday, agreeing to a four-year, $57.4 million extension with $40 million guaranteed.

    The way Sherman can take over games can be difficult to measure, but he has provided the Seahawks with plenty of great moments in his three years in Seattle. Some of these moments stand above the rest, based on the long-term impact they had on the Seahawks and how directly Sherman was involved.

Honorable Mentions

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    Sherman had a brilliant game against Larry Fitzgerald last year, but the Cardinals pulled off the victory.
    Sherman had a brilliant game against Larry Fitzgerald last year, but the Cardinals pulled off the victory.AP Photo/John Froschauer

    Barack Obama spoofs Sherman rant  

    This had no impact on the Seahawks on the field, but it was still a great moment for Sherman personally. U.S. President Barack Obama spoofed Sherman’s famous post-NFC Championship Game rant at last Monday’s White House Correspondents Dinner, via For The Win.

    Whenever the President references you in such a situation, you’ve done something right. It was all part of a nice week for Sherman, which also included a massive contract extension and being named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME.  

     

    Sherman has 2 INTs vs. Arizona

    Just another run-of-the-mill, multi-interception game for Sherman, as he picked off Carson Palmer twice in Seattle’s Week 16 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Sherman’s tremendous battles with Larry Fitzgerald are always fun to watch, with Sherman putting in another tremendous performance in this game.

    Unfortunately for the Seahawks, a bruising Arizona defense and late touchdown catch by Michael Floyd dealt Seattle its only home loss of 2013, lessening the importance of Sherman’s performance. Besides snapping a 14-game home winning streak, the loss had little impact on the Seahawks, as they would still secure home-field advantage and go on to win the Super Bowl.

10. Sherman’s First Career INT

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    The Seahawks struggled in 2011, but Sherman began his journey to becoming the best cornerback in the NFL with an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals.
    The Seahawks struggled in 2011, but Sherman began his journey to becoming the best cornerback in the NFL with an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals.AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

    October 30, 2011, against the Cincinnati Bengals

    Sherman played in every game in his rookie season after being picked in the fifth round out of Stanford. He notched his first career interception in the Seahawks’ seventh game of the 2011 season while covering the dynamic A.J. Green.

    It was a different era for the Seahawks, as they got blown out 34-12 by the Cincinnati Bengals and missed the playoffs in 2011. Due to the circumstances, Sherman’s first career interception didn’t carry the same weight as others in key regular-season and playoff games down the line.   

    However, it was a nice milestone for Sherman and helped him earn more starts in the 2011 season, furthering his development. Many more interceptions followed, and many more are still to come.

9. Sherman Dominates the Giants

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    Sherman blanketed Hakeem Nicks all game and gave Eli Manning no throwing windows.
    Sherman blanketed Hakeem Nicks all game and gave Eli Manning no throwing windows.Jim O'Connor / USA Today Sports

    December 15, 2013, against the New York Giants

    The stout Seahawks defense more than made up for a sluggish offense on the road in Week 15 against the New York Giants, as Seattle cruised to a 23-0 victory. Sherman led the way with two interceptions of Eli Manning and a tipped pass that led to another.

    More impressive was the way Sherman completely took over the game. He made both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks become invisible, particularly on sideline routes, as they combined for three catches. The Giants didn’t play well, but with the way Sherman was performing, they never had a chance.

    Sherman told The Associated Press (via ESPN) after the game: "We wanted to make sure [the defense] affected the game.” Seattle certainly accomplished that against New York and just about every other game in 2013.

    The Seahawks probably could have won this game without Sherman, so it can’t be ranked ahead of some of his moments in more critical games. But it was a nice reminder of how dominant he can be.

8. Sherman, Seahawks Blow out Arizona

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    Sherman achieved some milestones in a 58-0 thrashing of the Cardinals in 2012.
    Sherman achieved some milestones in a 58-0 thrashing of the Cardinals in 2012.USA TODAY Sports

    December 9, 2012, against the Arizona Cardinals

    Sherman set a number of milestones in Seattle’s 58-0 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals late in the 2012 season. The blowout included Sherman’s first multi-interception game and first defensive touchdown, as well as a fumble recovery.

    The win would give Seattle momentum to win a wild-card spot and set them up nicely for the following year. It also showcased the kind of dominating defense Sherman and the Seahawks expect to play week in and week out.

7. Sherman Hits Kyle Williams

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    No individual play comes to memory where Sherman better displayed his athletic ability.

    Sherman just fires the gap and comes out of nowhere to stick San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams. Williams has 4.4 speed and would be difficult for most cornerbacks to take down in the open field like that.

    The Seahawks were cruising in this game up 22-3 at the time, so it’s not as impactful as some of Sherman’s other plays in close games. But the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry always has plays that set the tone every year, and this was one of them in 2013.

6. Sherman Helps Shut Down Jimmy Graham

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    Sherman and Graham had several confortations before and during the divisional round game, but Sherman dominated on the field.
    Sherman and Graham had several confortations before and during the divisional round game, but Sherman dominated on the field.AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

    January 11, 2014, against the New Orleans Saints

    In the regular-season meeting between the Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints, Seattle completely shut down Jimmy Graham, thanks in large part to linebacker K.J. Wright. However, Wright was injured, and thus out, during the divisional-round matchup between the two teams, leaving many wondering how the Seahawks would neutralize Graham the second time around.

    That’s where Sherman came in, as he helped hold Graham to one catch for eight yards. It was a true team effort, so Sherman can’t take all the credit, but he hounded Graham with his physicality all game long. Sherman told The Associated Press (via ESPN) after the game: “We’re not scared of [Graham] and...he has to deal with us.”

    Seattle’s linebackers and safeties deserve credit for the performance too, so it doesn’t quite compare to some of Sherman’s individual moments. But without Sherman playing so well, Graham could have easily gone off and ended the Seahawks’ season prematurely.

5. Seahawks Select Sherman with the 154th Pick in 2011 NFL Draft

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    April 30, 2011

    Under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have developed a reputation of being excellent at drafting, particularly in the later rounds. No pick they have made exemplifies this more than selecting Sherman in the fifth round in 2011, one of the greatest steals in recent memory.

    Sherman’s career has been shaped by numerous moments, but being drafted so low was a key motivating point for him. In fact, Sherman can name every cornerback selected ahead of him, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

    Nothing is going to change the fact that I was drafted 154, fifth round, 23rd pick. Nothing’s going to change that. Five rounds of teams just passed, passed, passed, passed. I know every single one of them. I know every DB. I know everyone who went ahead of me.

    One player does not make a Super Bowl champion, and the Seahawks have made several great moves in the draft to build a winner. But selecting Sherman helped change the culture of Seattle football for the long term.

4. Sherman Picks off Tom Brady

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    This picture of Sherman and Tom Brady generated the post-game hype, but Sherman also proved something with his play against the Patriots.
    This picture of Sherman and Tom Brady generated the post-game hype, but Sherman also proved something with his play against the Patriots.Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

    October 14, 2012, against the New England Patriots

    This game represented a national coming-out party for Sherman. Down 20-10 in the third quarter, Sherman intercepted a Tom Brady pass to help spark a comeback and take down the mighty New England Patriots.

    If the nation didn’t know who Sherman was before the game, they sure did afterward, thanks in part both to Sherman’s play and a certain picture after the game.

    The win would establish the young Seahawks as a legitimate contender in the NFC. They would win a wild-card spot and advance to the second round of the playoffs, which served as a nice jumping-off point for the 2013 season.

    Sherman would have a couple of more important plays during Seattle’s Super Bowl run, but picking off Brady was the most important moment of his first two years in the league and helped him earn an All-Pro selection.

3. Sherman Signs Record Contract Extension

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    May 7, 2014

    Sherman won’t hesitate to tell you he’s the best cornerback in the NFL. Last Wednesday, he got paid like it.

    Seattle extended its All-Pro cornerback for four more years with a contract worth $57.4 million, $40 million of which is guaranteed. The deal made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, eclipsing the $12 million Darrelle Revis will earn from the New England Patriots this year.

    There’s an argument to be made that the contract is too much, and there’s an argument to be made that Sherman deserves every penny. Either way, the Seahawks will have the best cornerback in the NFL under contract until 2018.

    Extending Sherman can’t be ranked ahead of two on-the-field moments that led directly to a Super Bowl championship. But it carries the long-term message that Seattle is here to stay as a contender.

2. Sherman’s Pick-Six to Tie Game Against Houston

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    Sherman picked off Matt Schaub and sent the Seahawks and Texans in different directions.
    Sherman picked off Matt Schaub and sent the Seahawks and Texans in different directions.AP Photo/Patric Schneider

    September 19, 2013, against the Houston Texans

    This is one of the forgotten turning points in Seattle’s Super Bowl run. Down 20-13 on the road, with the Houston Texans driving to ice the game, Sherman intercepted Matt Schaub to tie the game, which Seattle eventually won in overtime.

    In retrospect, the Texans were obviously not a good football team, but they were 2-1 at the time and still resembled a contender. The common knock against the Seahawks was that they couldn’t win on the road against good and bad teams alike, and Houston opened a 20-3 lead on Seattle by halftime.

    Sherman’s play led to a Seahawks win that proved maybe, just maybe, this team was different than its predecessors. He told The Associated Press after the game he knew what he had to do, via ESPN.

    It's a high-risk, high-reward play. You have to jump in, and you might get beat over the top for a 20- or 30-yard gain if he gets the ball down there. But if you make the play, you might get a pick-6 and change the game for your team.

    It was a moment that defined two seasons, as the Seahawks rolled on to 4-0, and things spiraled out of control for Schaub and the Texans. However, Sherman would go on to top himself with a game-deciding play in the NFC Championship Game.

1. ‘The Tip’

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    An entire season came down to one play in the NFC Championship Game, and Sherman delivered on January 19, 2014, against the San Francisco 49ers.
    An entire season came down to one play in the NFC Championship Game, and Sherman delivered on January 19, 2014, against the San Francisco 49ers.USA TODAY Sports

    January 19, 2014, against the San Francisco 49ers

    Forget just Sherman himself, this is the single most important play in the history of the Seahawks franchise.

    Up just six points with less than 30 seconds remaining in the NFC Championship Game against the hated rival San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick threw a pass toward Michael Crabtree in the end zone. Sherman leaped high in the air and tipped the pass into the waiting arms of Malcolm Smith to seal the Seahawks’ trip to the Super Bowl.

    Maybe Kaepernick made a bad decision. Maybe Crabtree was in a bad position. Whatever the reason, Smith made a nice play in coverage. But this moment was all about Sherman, as few other corners in the league could have made such an incredible athletic play with the game on the line.

    It’s the key moment in the best season in franchise history to date, and for that it outranks any other moment in Sherman’s career.

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