It’s never good when Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander threatens to throw a 100-mph fastball at somebody’s head.
That’s basically what Verlander said Sunday after seeing Seahawks CB Richard Sherman’s post-game interview with FOX reporter Erin Andrews. Sherman was predictably juiced about tipping the clinching interception in Seattle’s 23-17 NFC Championship win. Shortly after he shouted to Andrews, “I’m the best corner in the game!” Fox producers cut the interview short, fearing a profanity-laced tirade was imminent.
Next, Verlander targeted Sherman, new national scapegoat.
So Russell is a class act! Sherman on the other hand…. If he played baseball would get a high and tight fastball.
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) January 20, 2014
Verlander’s comment, hypothetical as it is, was an example of the national backlash Sherman received for taunting 49ers WR Michael Crabtree, then calling him “mediocre” multiple times on national television.
The criticism from fans and some writers bothered Sherman enough that he wrote a column for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback website after press conferences ended around 9 p.m.
In some regard, his interview with Andrews, and his slightly toned-down comments (at least in volume) during his press conference, overshadowed an instant classic between division rivals that featured some of the best players in the NFL.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch ran for 107 yards inside the tackles. Lynch has the most 100-yard games (four) and three longest runs in Seahawks postseason history.
The Seahawks defense was just as instrumental in helping punch a ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII. In the fourth quarter, DE Cliff Avril caused a Colin Kaepernick fumble that DT Michael Bennett returned inside the San Francisco 10. Then, the Seahawks fumbled on fourth down following a controversial call, but San Francisco’s ensuing possession ended when S Kam Chancellor made a leaping interception. The outcome was sealed when Sherman tipped Kaepernick’s end zone pass to teammate Malcolm Smith.
Facing fourth-and-seven at the San Francisco 35 early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks took a 20-17 lead when QB Russell Wilson found WR Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
There was a bit of confusion before the critical fourth-down play. Fox cameras caught PK Steven Hauschka running onto the field, then returning to the sideline. Apparently, Hauschka didn’t feel comfortable trying a 53-yard field goal. After the game, Wilson said he begged Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to go for it. They relented.
When Wilson drew Niners DL Aldon Smith offside with a double count, earning Seattle a free play, the receivers changed their routes and went deep. It was one of many impressive plays Wilson made in his first NFC Championship.
In the first half, Wilson was sacked four times and pressured on 53 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Info. USA Today gave the Seahawks’ pass offense a “B” grade in their report card. It might have been an “A” if Wilson connected with Kearse on this deep try.
Wilson rarely missed when he went to WR Doug Baldwin. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Wilson went six-of-seven for 107 yards when targeting the undersized, always blunt Stanford graduate.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll shared a nice moment after the game. Really.
As blue and green confetti showered the field, members of the Seahawks defense danced with Macklemore, the Seattle rapper that shot to stardom with his 2012 album, “The Heist” and performed at halftime.
For all their uncensored, adversarial commentary, the Seahawks hug more than any team in the NFL. The approach worked magnificently. The Seahawks are headed to MetLife Stadium for their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.