ST. LOUIS – Dion Bailey wasn’t sitting at his locker. He was sitting in it.
Richard Sherman was on Bailey’s right, sitting in a chair. Earl Thomas was to the left, his back to the dressing room. And there was Bailey, sitting back in his locker as he recounted – in exacting detail – a very public failing.
“I was just was too flat-footed,” Bailey said. “My foot just stuck in the turf as I opened up. Fell down.”
That’s it. On one play he got caught squatting on a tight end’s route toward the sideline. That’s all it took for the Rams’ Lance Kendricks to run right by Bailey for a 37-yard touchdown that cost the Seahawks their fourth-quarter lead.
For 59 minutes Bailey had been eminently capable while filling in for Kam Chancellor only to actually fall down in the final minute to prove how absolutely, utterly remorseless and downright cruel this game can be. Lou Gehrig didn’t replace Wally Pipp only to strike out with the bases loaded, and yet here was Bailey answering questions afterward about a play that so many in Seattle will assume Chancellor would have made.
And let’s get a couple of things very clear. Chancellor and his holdout didn’t make Bailey stumble and fall in coverage, and Bailey’s mistake doesn’t mean the Seahawks will (or should) concede in their contractual staredown with their strong safety.
Chancellor’s absence on Sunday cost him a game check of more than $260,000. He’s also subject to a signing-bonus forfeiture of another $250,000.
And now the Seahawks have lost something, too – a game in which the replacement for one of the team’s best players was left looking up from his locker. Listening to Bailey talk about the play may have been even more excruciating than watching it.
“I’ve got to go 100 percent on my opportunities,” Bailey said. “I missed a big one today. I’ve got to learn from it and represent my family name better next week.”
Yeah, he was hurting afterward.
“I’ve got to learn from it and get better,” Bailey said. “You play well for the first three quarters, it doesn’t matter. You win in the fourth. So how I played before that play doesn’t matter to me.
“You’ve got to learn from it, get better and next week I’ve got to show up and earn my teammates’ trust again.”
Sherman, sitting in the locker next to Bailey afterward, told him to keep his head up.
“He’ll get over it,” Sherman said. “Everybody has that play. Everybody has a play where you make a mistake. He did everything he could on that play. Sometimes you just try too hard, but I think he’ll be fine.”
On the other side of the locker room, defensive lineman Michael Bennett urged a more long-term perspective.
“You’ve got to make young guys understand it’s not a one-game season,” he said. “It’s not the BCS Championship where you’re out of the playoffs if you lose one game. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to keep growing and making sure that you understand it’s a long season.”
A long season in which no one is perfect.
“Everybody makes mistakes, man,” Bennett said. “I lined up offsides twice like an (orifice).”
Everyone stumbles in the NFL. Sometimes they fall down. The question is how they get back up, something that will be as true for the Seahawks as it is for Bailey.
“It’s a tough situation for me right now,” he said. “But I’ll move on and I’ll get better. I will be better next week.”