When the game is on the line, NFL teams lean on their best players to come up big.
Cue Richard Sherman.
The Seattle Seahawks put the game away with a touchdown shortly after the third-year cornerback picked off Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of yesterday’s 20-13 win over the Titans.
“I played receiver for a long time,” Sherman said after the game. “You get good at locating the football. You’ve got to find that dark dot. You look up in the blue sky and all you’ve got to find is the dot. I was able to find it.”
Safety Earl Thomas also had an interception and running back Marshawn Lynch scored two touchdowns on 155 all-purpose yards in the win, which pushed Seattle to 5-1 heading into Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Yet the story of the game was as much about what went wrong for the Seahawks as what went right. The Seahawks fumbled the ball away in one possession and would have lost another were it not for the quick instincts of quarterback, and former baseball player, Russell Wilson. And Tennessee’s only touchdown came on a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown at the end of the first half.
"We kind of made it rough on ourselves today," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said at his press conference after the game. "We could have had a better day of it, but some stuff got away from us."
The one that got away was the blocked field goal that ended the second quarter. With Seattle leading 7-3 and facing third-and-goal at the four yard line, Carroll elected to try for a field goal attempt by punter Jon Ryan, who was filling in for injured kicker Steven Hauschka, out after taking a vicious hit on kickoff return. But holder duties fell to backup safety Chris Maragos, who bobbled the ball as he was setting it down, eventually resulting in a stripped ball that was returned for the touchdown and gave Tennessee a 10-7 lead. Carroll second-guessed his decision to go for the field goal after the game.
“I put them out there. They didn’t have to be out there. I shouldn’t have done that,” Carroll said.
The mistake proved more cosmetic than costly, however, as Wilson once again engineered a fourth quarter drive to put the game away and improve his home record as a starter to a perfect 11-0. The biggest play of the drive came on a 55-yard catch and run play to Marshawn Lynch, the longest of his career.
“It really wasn’t designed for him,” Wilson said of the play, in which he escaped pressure from the pass rush to find Lynch all alone across the other side of the field. “Coming out of the huddle, Marshawn and I just talked and said, ‘Hey, you never know.’ But I really wasn’t thinking it, to be honest with you. We had a guy in the flat. We had a guy in the over. We had a guy on a runback going deep. And we had a guy going to the far side of the field.”
Seattle will have to travel to Arizona on a short week, but the way receiver Golden Tate tells it, Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals can’t come soon enough.
“It’s great for us to have this short week,” Tate said. “I can’t wait to get out there and play some more football. I feel like the only ones that can stop us is us.”