The most underrated man in Seattle sports.
Forced Double Teams: 7
Broken Tackles: 1
*Includes all games minus Week 10, Divisional Round and the second half of Week 3 and the first half of week 1.
...Bernard made some big plays. He blew up a run, recording a split tackle for a loss with Leroy Hill. He chased down Rudi Johnson on that god forsaken screen. And he was instrumental in Deon Grant's interception. It's the Bengals first play of their third drive of the second quarter. Off the snap Bernard explodes through the line. Palmer is forced to role out to his right, this is essential because he now has only one viable receiving target: T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Bernard isn't fast enough to chase down Palmer, but he is fast enough to stall Palmer's pass. Finally, nearing the line of scrimmage and with Bernard closing in on his outside shoulder, Palmer delivers the strike towards Housh. Grant then converts a highlight reel interception, breaking down on the route and grabbing the pass before expertly dragging his feet inbounds. Grant made it spectacular, but Bernard made it possible. Once Palmer was forced to roll to his right, he locked onto Housh and Grant had an easy time jumping the route. Just excellent execution by the D and proof that everything in football, every play, every pick, is a team effort.
Rocky Bernard had a really nice half. On the play where he knocked out Alex Smith he recorded the trifecta: Penetration, forced and split double team finished with a sack. You could call it the perfecta if you factor in that he injured Smith.
Finally, let us end in praise of Rocky Bernard. Bernard has never gotten the full credit he deserves, but he is, plainly, the man. One gap tackles don't get a whole lot better than Bernard, who could possibly beat Alexander in a three yard footrace. While Julian Peterson was mopping up with three sacks, it was Bernard's out and out mastery of Justin Smiley that forced San Francisco to concentrate pass protection to the right side, allowing Peterson free lanes to the quarterback. For his long yeomen contributions, I award Sunday's game ball to Rock, keep shuffling big guy.
You know what the definition of baller is? Having two 350 lb lineman stacked atop you and still finding a way to tackle Brian Westbrook. For the second straight week, Rocky Bernard made the big play on a game changing goal line stand.
Bernard explodes through Fabini, using the guard to club his own quarterback and force the pick. It's priceless, too, the Skins have a back back to help double Kerney, but single block Bernard. He responds by employing one of the more novel pass rush moves I've seen: He puts his hands on the 6-7 guard's shoulders, squishes him down, and then walks him into Collins. It likely already has a name, but I want to call it the "crush" move, because it crushed Fabini, crushed Collins, and crushed the Skins comeback hopes. Tru, really, just moves under the floated pass for the pick. The rest is fun, and meaningful, but not terribly instructive. And, yes, Bane planted someone on the return.
[S]econd play of the Redskins 4th drive, counting the touchdown pass as a drive, 2nd and 12, Portis rushes for 2 yards. It's a messy run, with the Hawks having a couple shots to stop him for a loss, but Portis squirting out the right side after starting on the left. Bernard lunges for the tackle, looks real stiff, misses, and can be seen slowly picking himself up after the play.
Bernard had another fine season. Since his breakout season in 2005, where he starred as a pass rusher, Bernard has become more of a run stopping, lane crushing, blocker occupying tackle. He's adept at the role, but his pass rush is missed. Nothing beats interior pass rush. Bernard turns 29 April 19th. Defensive tackles stay effective into their early thirties, so his age alone is not a concern. Unfortunately, when you factor in his injury history, Bernard has appeared on the injury report 22 times in the last two seasons, and his impending free agency, 2009, it's time Seattle looks to the future at the 3. It's a premium position for the Seahawks, Bernard is one of the truly irreplaceable players on Seattle's roster, and it should be filled with a premium talent, not a late round flier or organizational depth.