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.
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.