Sports

Seattle Seahawks Notebook: Strong words from Sherman after NFC title; Lynch lets his running do his talking

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman celebrates after his tip in the final seconds of the fourth quarter prevented a San Francisco 49er touchdown in the NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.  - Genna Martin/The Herald
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman celebrates after his tip in the final seconds of the fourth quarter prevented a San Francisco 49er touchdown in the NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
— image credit: Genna Martin/The Herald

Everett Herald staff

Well, it's safe to say Richard Sherman has another personal rivalry. Move over Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis, ESPN's Skip Bayless and everyone else, the Seahawks cornerback now has his sights set on San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.

Love him or hate him, Sherman is going to be vocal, and after Sunday's 23-17 victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, Sherman had a message for Crabtree, who he went out of his way to chat with after the game-clinching interception. On that final play, a shot in the end zone towards Crabtree, Sherman timed a leap perfectly and batted the ball to Malcolm Smith, who hauled in the game-clinching interception. Sherman ran over and patted Crabtree on the behind, and while he claims he only said, "Good game" at the time, Sherman was flagged for taunting, and had plenty to say after the game.

"I was making sure everybody knew that Crabtree was a mediocre receiver," Sherman said. "Mediocre. And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that's what happens."

Sherman said his talk wasn't unprovoked, noting something happened in the offseason that he's rather keep "off the record."

"There's been a lot of talk from him, running his mouth during the offseason, personal conversations," Sherman said. "So I appreciate he knows that now. He said something personal. He knows what he said, and he knows it's going to be tough on him for the rest of his career."

Sherman's strong words weren't limited to Crabtree. He thanked both Seahawks and 49ers fans for supporting their teams, then had another message for those who spew venom on social media, saying, "Then I'd also like to say something to the (expletive deleted) fans who write on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and talk crap, because we appreciate the motivation. We appreciate it, you helped us win the game, so thank you very much."

Sherman also noted his surprise that the 49ers took a shot at him on what turned out to be their final offensive play. Colin Kaepernick had stayed away from the All-Pro corner all game long, then tested him with the game on the line.

"You throw that, that's just a mistake," Sherman said.

Sherman was also caught making a "choke" gesture towards the 49ers bench after the interception. Asked if that was for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, he said, "No, that was for Kaepernick."

Crabtree did have a response for Sherman, saying "He's a TV guy. I'm not a TV guy. I play ball. He makes one play and talks. Good game."

The two also exchanged a few, um, pleasantries, on Twitter. Fortunately for fans of a good feud, these two will see each other twice a year for as long as they stay on their current teams.

Marshawn Lynch lets his running do the talking

As always, Marshawn Lynch was a man of few words after Sunday's NFC championship game at CenturyLink Field.

And, as always, Lynch turned in a punishing performance, particularly in the second half as Seattle's offense finally getting untracked. The Seahawks outscored San Francisco 20-7 in the third and fourth quarters, and it was Lynch who provided the rugged rushing yards in their 23-17 comeback victory over the visiting 49ers.

Even San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh was impressed, calling Lynch "a great football player."

Highlighting Lynch's afternoon was a Beast-like touchdown run of 40 yards early in the third quarter. Taking a handoff up the middle, he got a big downfield block from offensive tackle Alvin Bailey, cut to the right sideline, and then won a footrace with two defenders coming from the left and a third closing from behind to reach the end zone just inside the right pylon.

"That was huge," said Seattle center Max Unger. "That's what Marshawn does, though. He's a stud. You can't say enough good stuff about Marshawn."

"He's electrifying," agreed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. "It all starts with the offensive line and tight ends, and the receivers blocking down the field, but his ability to make people miss and accelerate into the end zone, I think people underestimate his speed."

That play was part of a big second half for Lynch, who had 76 yards on 10 carries after halftime. He finished with 109 yards, which was all but 6 yards of Seattle's total on the ground.

"Marshawn Lynch did a phenomenal job of running the ball," said Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate.

Seattle's first-half rushing total — Lynch had 33 yards and quarterback Russell Wilson had 3 — "was frustrating," conceded Seattle coach Pete Carroll. "We did want to run it. So we came out in the second half … to make sure that we could start to put our runs out there.

"(Lynch) really gave us some great plays," Carroll said. "Of course, the big one was the one, but we felt his consistency was really important for us to come back in the third quarter."

Talk motivates Seahawks' wide receivers

Appetizers. Pedestrians. Undrafted.

It's hard to know if Seattle wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin remember every unkind thing that is said about them in the media, but it's clear that they hear enough to flame their competitive fires.

"The receiving corps is appetizers," Baldwin said, quoting – and mocking – a national television commentator. "I'll take that.

"I'll be an appetizer, but that's a good-ass appetizer if you ask me," he said.

Baldwin led Seattle with six receptions and Kearse had two, including a 35-yard touchdown catch that put Seattle ahead to stay at CenturyLink Field.

They have been headliners throughout a season that was supposed to be highlighted by wide receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice.

But injuries cost Harvin virtually the entire season, and Rice missed most of it, which thrust Baldwin and Kearse into key roles along with Golden Tate, by far the most heralded of the three after coming out of college as a second-round draft choice.

Baldwin and Kearse both came into the NFL as undrafted free agents. Baldwin is now in his third season and Kearse in his second.

Baldwin was second on the team in the regular season with 50 receptions, and he tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with Tate and tight end Zach Miller with five each.

Kearse had 22 catches for four touchdowns in the regular season.

Neither is blessed with eye-catching speed or size, and as long as Seattle looked good while winning, they didn't draw much attention from the press.

But the scrutiny intensified when Seattle lost two of its last four regular season games in large part because of struggles in the passing game.

Both tasted great sweetness with Sunday's victory, and for a lot of reasons in addition to the criticism they've been hearing from the experts.

For Kearse, they include the fact that he grew up in Lakewood (Lakes High School) and played college football at the University of Washington.

"Oh, man, you don't even know," Kearse said when asked if it was a dream come true to catch the decisive touchdown pass for the Seahawks in a championship game at CenturyLink.

"It's crazy. Being from the state of Washington and being able to be a part of this team and make it to the Super Bowl, it's an amazing feeling."

For Baldwin, it meant something extra to defeat 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who was his coach at Stanford.

"I would be lying to you if I said it didn't," Baldwin said. "But at the same time I've got a lot of respect for that man and a lot of respect for the San Francisco 49ers and the players over there."

As for the media, Baldwin has no doubt that national commentators will wax eloquent over Denver's pass catchers in the run up to the Super Bowl while continuing to look down their noses at Seattle's.

"I hope they do," he said. "I pray to God they continuously doubt us and talk negative about us. That just adds fuel to the fire."

Chances are, they'll be listening.

"It irritates the hell out of me when guys constantly want to talk about receiving, talking about we're average, we're pedestrian," Baldwin said.

"Well guess what? We're going to walk our ass to the Super Bowl as pedestrians."

Seahawks have a new buzzword: 'Omaha'

It didn't take long after being crowned NFC champions for the Seattle Seahawks to look at their next opponent.

"Omaha! Omaha!" the catchphrase of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, was echoing in the locker room as several Seahawks talked about going up against the Broncos and the No. 1 offense in the National Football League in the Super Bowl.

"It's the No. 1 offense, you could say that (the defense is excited)," said Seattle safety Kam Chancellor. "But we're going to play our ball and we're not worried about the other side right now. We're going to focus on getting better and correcting the mistakes we've got. ... I'm just looking forward to the challenge. I think (Manning is) a great quarterback and a great person."

Said Chancellor's fellow safety Earl Thomas: "It's all about 'separate yourself.' As a competitor, you always want to play the best."

Unlike in recent Super Bowls, this game will be played outdoors, with forecasts in East Rutherford, N.J. expected to feature a high of 37 degrees and a low of 25, with a possibility of rain and snow.

The Seahawks, being an outdoor team, feel they're built for such a game.

"Well yeah man," said defensive end Michael Bennett. "We are ready for it. Whatever happens, we just want to be there and we don't care about the weather. We can't make excuses about the weather. We just want to go out there and win the game."

Allen good luck charm

For the second time as owner of the Seattle Seahawks, Paul Allen raised the celebrated 12th Man Flag at the National Football Conference championship.

And for the second time as owner of the Seahawks, Allen was on the field afterwards celebrating a win.

Allen improved to 2-0 in NFC Championships were he raised the 12th Man Flag with Seattle's 23-17 victory over San Francisco Sunday night. The owner also raised the flag before the Seahawks defeated Carolina 34-14 on Jan. 22, 2006.

"@Seahawks How about the #12thMan propelling us to #SuperBowl !!!" Allen tweeted after the game. "So Happy for the city, state, region and everyone that supported the team!"

After the victory was secured, Allen was presented the George Halas Trophy, given annually to the NFC champion, by former Seattle owner John Nordstrom.

Rooting for their rivals

In his postgame press conference San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis didn't surprise anybody while talking about how tough the 49ers' loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship was.

He may have, however, surprised a few reporters when he revealed he would be rooting for San Francisco's rival in their next game.

"Someone had to win, someone had to lose. Unfortunately, we lost today and Seattle did what they need to do to win," Willis said. "Them being in the NFC, and also our division, I wish them luck. I hope they go in and take care of business for the NFC side."

Record crowd

Sunday's attendance was 68,454, which set a CenturyLink Field record for a Seahawks game for the third time in five home games. The previous record of 68,388 was set last week, and that broke by one the team record that was set against New Orleans on Dec. 2.

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