SEATTLE — Seattle’s secondary faced questions all week for the way it played against Indianapolis. It didn’t matter that it held Andrew Luck to 229 passing yards — a fine day at the office in today’s NFL — because the Seahawks got gashed for some big plays and lost.
The postgame dissection also focused on an individual level. Richard Sherman has been mentioned as a candidate for defensive player of the year in some circles, but he got beat on a couple of big plays, including a 73-yard touchdown to Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton.
Sherman looked like a different player in Seattle’s 20-13 win Sunday against Tennessee. He looked, in other words, like Richard Sherman of old.
“Guys got back to themselves, especially Sherm,” safety Earl Thomas said. “He played a great game. He bounced back from last week. He had a tough week, but he played within himself, stayed on top and did all the correct stuff.
“And when he does that, he’s the best corner in the league.”
Sherman was so good against Tennessee, there were long stretches when you almost forgot he was playing. That’s because the Titans didn’t throw his direction much.
And when they did, they got burned. Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to hit Nate Washington deep down the sideline with 11:23 left in the game, but Sherman went high in the air for his third interception of the season.
The difference in the two games, Sherman said, was simple. Against the Colts, the Seahawks played undisciplined. Against Tennessee, they played sound.
“A lot of things we just didn’t get right, and it was me, specifically,” Sherman said. “We just weren’t communicating well. I wasn’t communicating well. I was still stuck in Houston with our game plan, and I wasn’t as locked in as I should be. This game shows how we can perform each week. When we play like this, we’re real tough to deal with.”
None tougher than Sherman. He showed off the unique combination of instincts, technique and physical ability that makes him so good.
On the interception, Sherman looked back to locate the ball early, something he said not all cornerbacks are comfortable doing. That allows him to track its trajectory early and gives him a better chance of making a play on it.
“As soon as they’re throwing it, I’m turning,” Sherman said. “If you’ve been playing long enough and trust yourself, you just have to believe sometimes.”
He did that in a macro sense this week, too, and looked like one of the league’s dominant corners again.