Nineteen players were listed on the Seahawks’ defensive stat sheet after Seattle’s 36-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
None was Richard Sherman.
Yet Sherman might have made as big an impact on the surprisingly easy triumph for the Seahawks as anyone – even if he wasn’t necessarily all that happy afterward.
While Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers threw 33 passes, he never once targeted a receiver being covered by Sherman, leaving the Seattle cornerback with little to do.
Sherman had repeated earlier in the week something that became an increasingly common refrain last season – that rarely getting the ball thrown his way makes for a boring game.
So imagine how he felt Thursday night.
“I talked to Richard in the locker room about it,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “He was kind of disappointed that he wasn’t able to help us more. But he helped us immensely by the fact that they cut the field in half (by never looking Sherman’s way).”
By the time Sherman met with reporters, he was willing to accept that sometimes statistically doing nothing means everything.
“Oh you know, it’s still a football game,” Sherman said. “It’s always fun to be able to get out there and be able to compete. But you would like to get some action.”
Even when Green Bay got past midfield, though, it rarely got much done. A Seattle defense that ended last season regarded as the best in the NFL began a new one picking up where it left off.
Rodgers threw for just 189 yards, his third-lowest total since 2010, with just 86 yards in the first half as the Seahawks dominated. None of his passes went for more than 23 yards.
And each of Green Bay’s three scores were marked with asterisks.
An early touchdown came after Seattle’s Earl Thomas fumbled a punt at the Seahawks’ 34-yard line.
A second-quarter field goal came after a defensive pass interference penalty gave the Packers the ball at the 7. And a final touchdown in the fourth quarter came when the game was no longer in doubt and Seattle was in time-wasting mode.
“Other than that, I thought we played very, very well on defense,” Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said.
It was Bennett who made one of the key plays that sealed the victory, sacking Rodgers in the third quarter and forcing a fumble that turned into a safety.
A series earlier, Cliff Avril had sacked Rodgers on a fourth-and-four play at the Seattle 41.
Carroll later called that the key play of the game - Seattle led 20-10 at the time.
“I thought that was the play that really gave us the momentum,” Carroll said.
With the lead safely in hand, Seattle was able to turn even more to its running game, eventually outrushing the Packers 207-80.
In that sense, it was an old-school whipping, Seattle ultimately dominating on both sides of the line – the kind of physicality for which the Seahawks sometimes think they don’t get enough credit.
“I think a lot of people, because the NFL is so fantasy and stat-driven, they lose the concept behind how we play football,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “And that’s smash-mouth. We want to run the ball down your throat and we want to stop everything you do with our defense. That’s how we win games. We’ve proven it last year and we are going to continue to do it.”
Indeed, it was the kind of performance that reinforced the notion that the Seahawks might have the best chance of any team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since the 2004 Patriots.
When John Kuhn scored after the Thomas fumble to put the Packers ahead 7-3, Rodgers could be seen barking at Bennett.
“He’s always talking,” Bennett said. “He’s one of the most talkative persons in the NFL, and I feel like people never really hold him out for that. We had to get to him and let him know that the past is the past and this is the future team. We felt good about that.”
Rodgers’ avoidance of Sherman meant Byron Maxwell got much of the action instead. And while he gave up a few plays, he mostly held firm, including making an interception off a tipped pass that led to a Seattle field goal and a 20-10 lead in the third quarter.
Maxwell knew the Packers would look his way and called it “an opportunity,” saying he knows teams will test him with Sherman on the other side.
Baldwin, meanwhile, called the fact that Green Bay never threw at Sherman “the ultimate sign of respect.”
While Sherman likes respect, though, he also likes having something to do.
“I mean, you get a little surprised by it,” he said. “But it happens. He (Rodgers) has his flow going, and that’s the way he read his game. It’s fine.”
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