BY Art Thiel 12:37AM 01/11/2015

Thiel: ‘Dark Knight’ rises, as do the Seahawks

Goes by Batman, Kam Chancellor does. He helped saved Gotham West, and entertained the football nation with feats previously unseen.

Kam Chancellor (31) is joined by teammates celebrating his 90-yard interception return that clinched the playoff win over Carolina. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Befitting an 11-point underdog on the road, Carolina coach Ron Rivera hoped the Seahawks would help with a slip-up or goof: “We needed them to make some mistakes. But it didn’t happen. They did some things that lead to winning championships.”

In fact, a shot at a championship is next on the Seattle agenda, for the lands and treasure of the NFC, in eight days against Green Bay — despite, contrary to Rivera’s claim, making mistakes Saturday night. But even the fails were talked about with awe reserved for movie special effects.

Not once, but on consecutive plays just before halftime, SS Kam Chancellor stunned the athletics world when he leaped over the Panthers’ offensive line in attempts to block field goals. Both were thwarted by penalties, but not before the NFL bore witness to another DC Comics moment of preposterousness from the Seahawks.

Surrounded by a battalion of reporters at his locker, Chancellor was asked if the nickname “Superman,” appropriated by Carolina QB Cam Newton, was well, misappropriated.

“He can stay Superman,” Chancellor said, grinning. “They call me Batman — The Dark Knight.”

Let’s roll with it. Personally, I like Chancellor The Canceler, but that does not come with stately Wayne Manor or the Batmobile.

We are in the entertainment world, and the Seahawks these days are more entertaining than cute kitten photos.

Batman had eight solo tackles and a soul-sucking 90-yard pick-six with six minutes left to seal the 31-17 playoff win at the Clink before 68,524 ultra-amped patrons. But Chancellor’s Olympics-class leaps were the hottest matter of did-you-see-that? curiosity.

Chancellor, another of the Seahawks’ low-in-the-draft gems (fifth round), certainly was the right athlete to attempt the feat, even though he missed the first time he tried it a couple of years ago.

“It was a failed mission,” he said. “I hit the center’s back and fell over.”

This time, film study disclosed that the Panthers’ special-teams center and right guard stayed low on their blocks.

“We saw something we could attack,” he said. “We decided to put it in. It looked good all week in practice.”

He soared over the line and pounced into the backfield, but Graham Gano got off the kick in time and made it — only to be denied by a penalty. Re-kick from five yards back.

“I got there the first time, and it looked good,” Chancellor said. “So I said, ‘Let’s try it again.”

Gano, flummoxed by the audacity of a second try, shanked the ball hard left — so far left that Chancellor couldn’t get a piece of it. Which was unfortunate for him, because that would have nullified a call of running into kicker, which Bat . . . Chancellor clearly did.

“‘Almost’ doesn’t count,” said Chancellor. “Once he’d seen me, he just shanked it.”

There was no third try. Perhaps The Joker called in a fresh blocking scheme, because Gano got off a 35-yarder that put three points back up to close out one of the oddest special-teams sequences in playoff history.

“It was extremely well orchestrated,” said coach Pete Carroll of the audacious feat. “They really didn’t have enough time to adjust after the first attempt. Unfortunately, the kicker kicked it so poorly that Kam couldn’t block the second one. Then we roughed him.

“So it was just kind of a calamity there.”

Yes, but it was the sort of calamity that is usually accompanied by calliope music. Don’t dare take eyes off these guys.

As per usual with the Seahawks, defense carried the day, even though the Panthers had more yards, first downs and time of possession. The difference was turnovers — an interception by Richard Sherman, a fumbled handoff by Newton and the killer interception by Chancellor.

They were the typical errors of the lesser experienced — the Panthers last weekend won their first playoff game in nine years, while the Seahawks are in their ninth postseason in 12 years, and are on a four-game unbeaten streak.

The Chancellor pick was a first on a couple of accounts — it was the longest scoring play in Seahawks post-season history, eclipsing by three yards Percy Harvin’s kickoff return in the Super Bowl. (“It was?” said Chancellor. “Gosh.”). And it was the first time in his career he scored on a pick-six.

“Nope. Never,” he said, while cautioning that he spent much of his youth as a quarterback and running back. The Panthers, down 24-10 in the final period, were moving in big chunks down the field to attempt to stay in a game that was slowly crawling away from them.

On second-and-1 from the Seahawks’ 15-yard line, Newton dropped back to pass, an odd call in a short-yardage situation.

“The receiver (Kelvin Benjamin) was right next to me in my peripheral vision, then I saw the D-line getting pressure on Cam,” Chancellor said. “You could see he wanted to get rid of the ball fast. He threw it right to me and I finished it off.

“All I saw was green. Green means go.”

The long run gave the crowd, which per usual stood for nearly the whole game, a chance to jump and scream, which they did repeatedly, reaching an audio apex that presumably bent some seismologists at the waist, looking at their instruments.

The moment was riveting for more than the score. While this team is full of provocative personalities, there may be none more respected than Chancellor, because he is always a reserved man of deep faith who steps forward only reluctantly. But few play with as much ferocity.

“He was on fire, man,” said LB K.J. Wright. “That’s our captain. I love the way he plays. He brings so much energy to this team. Big hits. Pick sixes.

“Everybody looks up to that guy. When I look at him I just get inspired. He’s a big-time guy.”

Even when he fails, he fails big. As Rivera discovered, the fails with the Seahawks never happen enough for the rest of the NFL.

 


YourThoughts

  • ColdBlooded

    Great article. Love seeing ‘The Canceler’ getting his due national recognition. Art, guessing the final quote in your article should be attributed to LB Bobby Wagner…though Kam did feel omnipresent last night.

    • art thiel

      Fixed. Thanks. It was late.

  • Jamo57

    “Chancellor The Canceler”. Good one, Art! For me, that has more of a WWE sound to it. If the Cowboys come in next week, maybe someone can hit the tag team duo of Jerry Jones and Chris Christie with a metal chair. Now that would be entertaining!

    • art thiel

      I don’t want to see Christie jumping off the corner turnbuckle on anyone.

      • dinglenuts

        Oof. Glad I read that after breakfast.

        Bad, bad visual.

  • Diamond Mask

    Kam was a monster last night. I guess that’s why Curt Menefee said “next up the Kam Chancellor is awesome post game show

    • art thiel

      The respect he has in the locker room is remarkable.

  • Gerald Turner

    It was like the comix books, game was in hand, felling safe and happy, but then Giant Neutron Man is threatening to bring his team back to striking distance. A nervous hush falls over the Hawk fan club, fears and doubts creeping back in. And then out of nowhere the Dark Night swoops in! Emerald City is saved from becoming another line in the Super Bowl next year playoff loser stat. Not this time, not this team, we got Dark Place. And like Richard Sherman said after the game. “When you go to a dark place, you better bring a flashlight.” Hey, good times, the ride of us Seahawk football fans lifetime continues.

    • art thiel

      The Riddler is next. When is a one-time choke artist the biggest threat to an Emerald City repeat?

  • Dave Mauro

    “bent some seismologists at the waist”. Love that! Top form, Art.

    • art thiel

      Cool. Thanks.

  • Duh

    That’s not his first pick-6. Surely.

    • art thiel

      I was standing next to him when he was asked repeatedly. You tell him he’s lying.

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    A fine report, Art, once again. If Kam says that’s his first pick-six, I believe him. I have no reason to doubt his honesty, particularly if there is even a remote chance I could ever be in the same room with him.

    I don’t know if you read SB nation, but they have a piece up about Kam that suggests he may be an android. It’s plausible, but he’d have to be from the future. At any rate, I thought you might be interested. It’s a fun read.

    http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2015/1/11/7526995/kam-chancellor-seahawks-bad-man-smash-destroy-panthers

  • RunningRoy

    In the NFL World of endless Spy vs. Spy, it’s so refreshing that Seahawks like Kam are empowered to push for the exact same thing twice in a row especially when they know it will work again. Best repeat performance on consecutive football plays since Burt Reynolds repeated his low fastball at Ray Nitschke in the original The Longest Yard.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    I like to call him “Wham-Bam Cam”.

    Not mentioned because it was overshadowed by his other, remarkable plays was a hit on one of the Carolina backs who had a full head of steam after about a three or four yard run and looked almost sure to make a first down on a third down play when Wham-Bam hit him head on full speed and not only stopped him in his tracks but sent him sprawling in the opposite direction.

    DAMN!, Wham-Bam, DAMN!

  • http://quietmusic.com NickFrancis

    Art – Someone steered me to a list of the nation’s top High school QB’s in 2006. Kam Chancellor is on the list, rated between Andy Dalton & Colin Kaepernick! https://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecruiting/football/recruiting/rankings/rank-1143