This has been a weird season for the Seahawks, and despite the fact that they're really only one game off of their record at this time last year (7-4 to now 6-5), the "feeling" of the team has been very different. Russell Wilson has taken a long time to get into a groove, the offensive line has been much worse than anyone expected, Marshawn Lynch has mostly been an afterthought, and the defense hasn't been dominant save for a few games against crappy quarterbacks.
One common complaint I've seen this season is that the Seahawks' swagger is gone. The normally brash, unapologetic, and roundly despised outside of Seattle Richard Sherman has become too calm and collected, too nice, and many take that as a microcosm for the issues facing the whole team.
Well, Richard Sherman went out on Sunday and shut down one of the best receivers in the NFL in Antonio Brown -- as Jacson put it, "Counting 2-point attempt, Antonio Brown was targeted nine times while covered by Richard Sherman & only caught one more pass (3) than Sherman did (2)." Brown's final line when matched up with Sherman? 3 catches for 24 yards. As ESPN's Sheil Kapadia writes, "By my count, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 3-for-10 for 24 yards and an interception when throwing to Brown against Sherman. On all other throws, he was 33-for-45 for 432 yards, a touchdown and a pick."
After proving once again that any criticisms that his game has fallen off are ludicrous, he went on the offensive in the press. I loved this.
"I don't guard small receivers well," Sherman said sarcastically and pointedly to reporters after the game. "So I don't know what I did. That's not what I do well, so I'm not very good at guarding small receivers. It's my biggest weakness, so I just went out there. ... Obviously he just dropped a bunch of balls."
When pressed on some of the criticism going into the game that he wouldn't be able to match up with Brown, Sherman let loose with some vintage trash talk, this time pointed at the media.
"You hear idiots say a lot of stuff," he said. "People can't play. They don't play the game. They don't have talent. So they can sit there and say everything from a couch, from an armchair. But we all know what's good. We all know what it is as players. There's tremendous respect amongst the guys on the field. Their team had a great respect for me, and we had great respect for their receiving corps, and it's back and forth.
"You see people who've never played the game, who've never coached the game, who've never stepped foot on the field talk about how you're not good against smaller receivers," he continued. "You can't call that. You don't have enough knowledge. You don't have enough intimate details. You don't even know the game. You have very low football IQ. So it's tough to take those people serious, but we went out there and executed today."
It's not exactly the "U Mad Bro" version of the Seahawks' shutdown corner from 2013 and 2014, but I'll take it.
FYI, Richard Sherman has now traveled against elite receivers and still been Richard Sherman. Retire your narrative.
— Zach Whitman (@zjwhitman) November 30, 2015