BY Art Thiel 09:29PM 10/16/2016

Thiel: Sherman’s rage doesn’t stall Seahawks

CB Richard Sherman’s sideline rant made for great spectacle, but it didn’t derail the Seahawks, who averted collapse with two defensive stands that sealed a harrowing 26-24 win over the Falcons.

Seahawks DE Cliff Avril strip-sacks Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. The fumble set up the Seaahwks’ second-quarter touchdown. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

For the record, as Richard Sherman was leaving the locker room at the Clink Sunday, he shook hands with DeShawn Shead, his fellow cornerback and one among several targets of his third-quarter sideline rage that was just about as eye-popping as the Seahawks’ 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The reason that was important was Sherman was so incensed at his coaches and teammates that it was easy to assume he had gone all Kramer on his “Seinfeld” cast of friends. Yelling, and slamming his helmet, he had to be pushed away by multiple teammates. For most of the rest of the game when the offense was on the field, he sat on the bench by himself.

By the afternoon’s end, Sherman’s pout had waned. He was calm enough to talk rationally about his burst of irrationality.

“It was a blown coverage,” he said in the interview room, referring to either of two long third-quarter touchdown passes, a 36-yarder to WR Julio Jones and a 46-yarder to WR Levine Toilolo. “We should never give them points when we could have stopped them. They scored on blown coverages.

“Things didn’t get communicated the right way. They motioned some guys over and we didn’t adjust correctly.”

In the locker room before the interview, Sherman, still in half his uniform, was talking earnestly but calmly with a wide-eyed Shead, in his first year starting opposite Sherman. Also new Sunday to a starting role was SS Kelcie McCray, replacing Kam Chancellor, who developed a groin injury during practice. Chancellor, along with DE Frank Clark (hamstring), were held out.

It wasn’t clear who had the responsibility for Jones or Toilolo, but it was clear that the Seahawks didn’t handle well the Falcons’ penchant for misdirection plays.

“It was a conversation about everything that went on,” Sherman said. “You get guys sometimes who haven’t been together. It’s little bit of a challenge, a different feel. It takes years to develop communication among defensive backs.”

Sherman insisted that the blowup had no impact on the remaining play, nor did his decision to sit by himself.

“I was just chilling,” he said. “It’s frustrating to give up two bogus touchdowns. I was just chilling out. I’m a ballplayer. I play with passion.”

Coach Pete Carroll was similarly dismissive of lingering consequence.

“It’s an emotional team, and we ride that emotion,” Carroll said. “I’m not surprised. When we get that hot, we have to control it better so we don’t get in the way of what’s coming up.

“That’s what these guys are like. I am too.”

In an attempt to get the defense back together, the group had an impromptu, jumping hug on the sidelines. No one later owned up to saying “kumbaya,” but the point was made.

“You saw those guys rally together to make sure to calm everybody down to get back to business,” Carroll said. “Look how we finished.”

Fair point. By the Falcons’ final two possessions, the Seahawks were in shutdown mode. Trailing 24-23, the Seahawks intercepted a Matt Ryan pass that went off the hands of Jones, then off the hands of Sherman and into the hands of FS Earl Thomas, who returned the ball to midfield.

The drive concluded with a 44-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka with 1:57 remaining that became the game-winner only after the Seahawks denied Ryan passes four times.

The final one was a dandy, which produced rage in Falcons coach Dan Quinn at least the equal of Sherman’s rant.

On fourth down, Ryan went deep to Jones, who had a step on Sherman. By the time the ball arrived, plenty of contact had been made, but not enough to draw a flag. Game over. Quinn, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator, roared down the sideline after the no-call, ripping off his hat and headphones in a Lou Piniella-grade profanity fest, bellowing at the officials for a foul call.

Afterward, he dodged the question.

“Usually one play doesn’t define it,” Quinn said. “We will look at it and see where it goes. We certainly had other opportunities in the game to capitalize.”

Jones, who had seven catches for 139 yards, was much more direct.

Asked if he thought there was interference, he said, “I do. Before I took off, he grabbed my right side and spun me around before I jumped up. It was just a missed call.”

Unsurprisingly, Sherman disagreed.

“I thought there was offensive interference on a few plays and didn’t get it,” he said. “It was one of those games where they let us play.”

It looked like Sherman got away with one. In fact, the Seahawks probably got away with one — one that seemed to have been put away with a dominant first half and a 17-3 lead.

The Falcons in their three-TD blitz in the third quarter established that they are not the NFL’s No. 1 offense by a fluke. The Seahawks also made a point: They don’t have to play close to perfection to beat a good team.

Hell, they don’t even have to be nice to each other.




  • Diamond Mask

    Quite a win. I was impressed with Matty Ice. He really took a pounding and still nearly turned the table on us. I think Quinn has a real team on his hands and their division is so weak.

    Sherman cares about his craft. A lot. But in the end all the parts need to be working for him to be successful. He probably could have handled it better but he is who he is. Given the role models out there these days he still borders on the saintly in comparison.

    • art thiel

      Pete says he’s happy to dwell on the edge with these guys. Sometimes they screw up, but he prefers the rewards with that risk.

  • Warchild_70

    The block in the back call was something I tried to visualize but tried as I did it didn’t appear there were several missed calls on both sides and teams. I thought Julio looked good wearing Sherman as a cloak! Oh well the zebras were a little hazy this game and fortune fell on the Hawks. GO HAWKS!!

    • art thiel

      Officiating the NFL is the hardest sports gig, because contact is scripted but constrained by increasingly tighter limits.

      In this game, if Richard was penalized, no certainty that ATL would have scored.

  • 1coolguy

    Sherm got away with one – that was clearly a PI no call. As a Hawk fan, I’m good with it, and I’d rather be lucky any time.
    As to the offense, they sucked. They got a TD with a “drive” that started on the Atlanta 9, then had one good TD drive later in the first half. Then total incompetence in the third qtr well into the 4th, when RW woke up in time for a TD drive and a last minute field goal. RW just doesn’t seem to get the team to focus for an entire game. Hopefully he will come playoff time.

    • art thiel

      Don’t know what team or season you’ve been watching to say they sucked. It was hardly their best game, but the 4Q was strong.

      • 1coolguy

        Not addressing the season, strictly this game. Yes, RW came through in the 4th qtr.

  • ll9956

    I hate to say it, but the controversial non-call of PI on Sherman very likely changed the outcome of the game. I believe the TV announcer had it right when the replay was shown and he explained how Sherman should have been called for PI. Had the call been made the Falcons would have had a chance to kick a short game-winning field goal. I would be surprised if Dan Quinn doesn’t send the video to the NFL to complain that the officials blew it. In that case, the NFL probably will agree with Quinn, but say that occasional missed calls are unfortunately part of the game. It reminds me of when the Hawks were robbed in the 2005 Super Bowl by a bogus call on Matt Hasselbeck.

    Other posters have pointed out that the Hawks also were the victim of bad calls earlier in the game and I’m sure they’re right.

    Somehow I just don’t have the satisfying feeling that I usually get after a Hawks win.

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    • art thiel

      Consider that as bad as the 3Q was, the Seahawks had in the 4Q 154 yards, nine points and nine first downs and ATL had squat. If you’re not impressed with that, I can’t help you.

  • Effzee

    He totally got away with one. But that’s how this team rolls. They make the officials make the calls. There have been at least a dozen games in the Carroll/Wilson era that have left me shaking my head afterwards, marveling at the luck that seems to be on their side. This is what great teams do. They just win, baby.

    • art thiel

      Luck favors the planners and the workers.

  • I’m still waiting for a coach to say to a ref, “Hey, you need to throw a flag on our guy. That was illegal.” When that starts happening, shouts of “Not fair!” will make sense to me. There are always missed calls and bad calls by refs until we get a booth review of every play, it’s never going to approach perfection. If we do get to that level of scrutiny, the games will get so long and boring that they don’t even attract attention. This much whining over one call is ridiculous. If anyone needs pouting, they can go watch Cam Newton’s postgame press conferences after losses.

    • art thiel

      The call was a worthy point of discussion, but the Seahawks coming out of the sideline dustup with a shutdown 4Q was fascinating.

      • It was a fun game. A little too close at the end, but fun. One of these days, Russell Wilson is going to accidentally disclose his home planet, or possibly it will be released by Wikileaks. It’s bound to come out eventually.

  • Matt712

    My take on the Sherman rant was that his beef was with D-coordinator Chris Richard. Almost the entire dominating first half, they played man-to-man with Sherman shadowing Julio Jones. Then, opening the second half, inexplicably, they appeared to go into mostly zone coverage with Sherman no longer shadowing (which is their normal defense). Matt Ryan (and Kyle Shanahan) proceeded to dine on that buffet of poorly adjusting zones.

    The only explanation I can think of is that Chris Richard went back to his normal D scheme to protect the lead, thinking it was less risky (which it typically is because it’s supposed to take away big plays over the top). And it may have worked if the Hawks didn’t have two 2nd string guys at key positions filling in (McKray and KPL).

    I’d wager Richard Sherman’s football intelligence against anyone’s in the NFL. And it boggles my mind when coaches move away from ‘what’s working’ (perhaps in favor what for comfortable or familiar). Clearly it boggled Sherman’s so much his head exploded.

    • art thiel

      Carroll explained that the absence of Chancellor was crucial in making adjustments to coverage. Sherman was mad at several people, jumping Kris Richard because he was in charge. Less about wrong call than poor execution because of communication blunders.

    • John M

      I couldn’t figure what kind of coverage the DB’s were in starting the 2nd half either, they looked kind of lost, which I guess they were. I liked Sherm’s rant, it was an appropriate time for it. The non-call on Sherm was only significant because it happened to be the last one. The zebra’s missed plenty- certainly there could have been more holding on their O-line than the bunch that were called. That was a tough game for both sides.

      As for luck, we paid our dues for a little good after what happened in the kicking game . . .

  • WestCoastBias79

    Anyone else find it ironic that there’s a good chance it’s Quinn who taught Sherman to defend like that? The Seahawks secondary makes a living pushing the boundaries of the rules. It’s what good teams do.

    • art thiel

      Not sure if Quinn Yoda’ed Sherman on technique, but Quinn did himself proud by fooling the SEA defense for a 21-point blitz. Misdirection was a part of the reason Seahawks were out of position.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Passion, coupled with focus and aggression usually produces it’s share of good luck. The Hawks found a way to win a game that was going down the drain. The Atlanta slant pass that got picked off should never have been thrown. That was a high risk play with several Seattle defenders in the area. They were moving well with flat passes and short throws in an open field. But hey, live by the sword, die by the sword. Matty made a lot of high risk throws in the third quarter. Sherman got away with PI at the end and that definitely affected the game. That’s what, four times in the last four years that a critical non-call as gone the Seahawks way in the final minute of play and likely determined the final score. That’s atypical in the NFL. Fortunate.

    • art thiel

      No doubt there was luck involved on the last play, but it was residue of a hard rally that boxed ATL into desperation heaves that no ref wants to reward with a PI.

  • DJ

    Seahawks’ D – way to up your level of play!

    Non-call was an amazing play by Sherman! The amount that you have to slow the video down in order to see just what he did is a measure of his great control and finess.

    The level of competition between receivers and defenders of both sides was very high, and there were a number of non-calls on the other side of the ball that he one could say it all evens out. One non-call does not decide the game.

    Overall it was a great effort even with the defensive miscues. Can’t blame Sherman for striving for perfection. This will only clear the way for more refinement as the season plays on.