By Brady Henderson
Richard Sherman briefly fumbled with the top button of his shirt as about a dozen reporters surrounded the Seahawks cornerback in front of his locker, leaving little room to move.
Everyone wanted to hear from Sherman following the Seahawks’ 42-13 trouncing of San Francisco Sunday night at CenturyLink Field. And as it turns out, getting dressed afterward amid a crowd of media members might have been the hardest part of his night.
You never would have guessed that Sherman missed two days of practice last week while appealing his four-game suspension – not by the way he played Sunday.
“Well, it did rest my legs a little bit,” he said with a laugh.
Maybe he wasn’t joking. Sherman, after all, outran everyone while returning a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
The execution was about as perfect as the bounce the ball took once it was blocked. The play called for Sherman to line up on the end of the left side and wait for a possible deflection, which he got when Heath Farwell and Brandon Mebane helped Red Bryant split two defenders and block the chip-shot attempt.
Sherman picked the ball up at the 10-yard line and raced up the left sideline for the score. It was a 10-point swing and the biggest play of a game that had plenty of candidates.
“That was an enormous moment,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I think the bell rang right there: we have a chance to beat these guys on this night.”
Said Sherman: “It was a lucky bounce, it bounced right towards me. I just wanted to make sure I secured the ball and then run as fast as I could. Luckily, nobody caught me.”
It was less luck and more skill that helped Sherman deny San Francisco a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
On a third-and-goal play from Seattle’s 3-yard line, Colin Kaepernick rolled to his right and tried throw back across his body to Randy Moss, who was streaking across the back of the end zone. Sherman jumped in front of Moss for the interception. Ever the showman, he then ran out of his way to jump over Michael Crabtree in celebration.
Sherman had four passes defensed, including one he picked off in the end zone for his seventh interception of the season. (AP)
“If you’re going to throw late, I’m going to bait him into that again,” he said of the interception, his seventh of the season. “He tried to throw late across his body and you don’t do that [against] our defense.”
Sherman batted away three other passes, including one that helped Seattle force a three-and-out on the opening possession. He finished with five tackles.
Sherman’s big game came against his college coach, Jim Harbaugh, who turned 49 on Sunday.
“I hope he enjoyed our gift,” Sherman joked.
It also came two days after his appeal was heard regarding the four-game suspension he’s facing for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Sunday that Sherman’s appeal is based on his contention that the urine sample he provided for testing was contaminated. According to Schefter, Sherman claims the person collecting his urine sample erred by using a second cup with a broken seal to capture leakage from the first cup containing Sherman’s urine.
Sherman, speaking with reporters Sunday about his appeal, seemed optimistic but said he did not know when a decision will be made.
“It should go well. There was a chain of custody mistake. There were mistakes made by the tester,” he said. “The league’s argument was they’re allowed to make mistakes and they’re allowed to break the rules and they can get away with it. It’s up to them. The appeal officer is paid by the league so if he goes their way, that’s what it is. It’s not an even playing field in that appeal room.”
Sherman said the potential suspension has not been a distraction.
“Not at all,” he said. “Just another little bit of adversity that I have to face, face it head-on and do it with a smile on your face and go out there and put on another show.”
What a show it was Sunday night.