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The Occasional, Essential Contributions of Earl Thomas

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For the sake of sanity and brevity, from here on out, I will list only the plays in which Earl Thomas has a direct impact. That said, we shouldn't construe Thomas not being involved directly with a play as Thomas not impacting the outcome of a play. As a deep safety, he is responsible for defending the single most valuable play type in football: the deep pass.

Ok, here we go.

2-8-CAR 41 (3:03) 2-J.Clausen pass short left to 11-B.LaFell to SEA 49 for 10 yards (21-K.Jennings).

Thomas walks up and says something to Aaron Curry . Curry is over the right slot receiver. Carolina is split three wide. Seattle blitzes off the strong side, sending Curry and Lofa Tatupu. Curry blitzes and Thomas moves down to defend the right slot receiver. The slot receiver runs a quick curl and Thomas is slow to cover him, but Clausen never looks his way.

Leo end Raheem Brock drops into coverage but he looks pretty clueless out there. He jumps up as if to tip Jimmy Clausen's pass, but does not.

Clausen targets Brandon LaFell and LaFell catches in front of Kelly Jennings for an easy 11. It's the bad exploiting the blind, and following yet another easy reception, Jennings heads to the sideline and Walter Thurmond subs in.

And I am happy.

1-10-SEA 49 (2:28) 28-J.Stewart left end to SEA 47 for 2 yards (28-W.Thurmond, 29-E.Thomas). PENALTY on CAR-47-J.King, Illegal Motion, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 49 - No Play.

Thomas is ten deep and over left tackle. Seattle has a cover 2 shell.

Carolina runs a pitch left from an offset-I left. Thomas reads it all the way. He zigzags from the third level and reaches Stewart at the line of scrimmage. Thomas looks like the fastest player on the field. After being held up for a second, Stewart surges forward for two yards.

Thurmond, for his part, takes out the fullback.

2-8-SEA 47 (1:33) 2-J.Clausen pass incomplete deep middle to 11-B.LaFell.

Clausen takes a five step drop and passes to LaFell. It looks like a perfect pass, but LaFell doesn't run into it. He stops, leaps and reaches out a hand and bats it to the turf. Marcus Trufant is in man coverage, but LaFell is in front of Trufant and Trufant doesn't make a play on the ball.

Thomas starts in the deep middle. Jeff King gets well behind Tatupu. Thomas is alone between King and the end zone, but he isn't "on" King. He sits over and between King and LaFell and breaks towards LaFell, but too late to make an impact. Thomas was in position to tackle had LaFell made the reception.

Clausen ends the drive with a fumbled snap. He's good at that.