Coach Pete Carroll, a lover of defensive football, said he anticipated “a classic matchup between two terrific players” when they sicked Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman on New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall.
The Hawks decided to cut Sherman loose from his customary left cornerback position and allow him to follow Marshall wherever he lined up.
It was All-Pro against All-Pro, and they each showed why they’re so well-regarded.
Marshall pulled in four catches for 89 yards and one touchdown.
But Sherman had two interceptions, and covered Marshall so consistently that the receiver was targeted 12 times to get those four catches.
“They went to the well,” Sherman said of the repeated targeting of Marshall. “I knew coming into this game it would be a dogfight. He’s going into the Hall of Fame with a gold jacket because he’s done it everywhere he’s been. He’s going to make his plays. I would have been really surprised if he didn’t make plays.”
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t surprised by Sherman’s sole attention to Marshall.
“It’s our best player on offense and what they think is their best player on defense. That’s a guy we’re going to throw the ball to and try to win those one-on-one matchups.”
Marshall won a key matchup shortly before halftime when he shook Sherman for a 17-yard touchdown.
“That was just a great play by him,” Sherman said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to them sometime.”
Sherman showed his resilience early in the fourth quarter when Marshall ran him up the left sideline and then made a catch on a comeback move. Sherman thought Marshall pushed off at the break, but it was Sherman who got called for the pass interference.
Sherman was ready for it on the next play, though.
“At the line of scrimmage, I kind of saw his release and their action, and I thought, ‘I know they’re not coming again’, but this time I played it differently, coming to the ball and got my head around.”
It was his first interception of the season, and with his second interception in that fourth period, he had his first multiple-pick game since late in the 2014 season against San Francisco.
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin thought it was predictable. “If they kept throwing at him, it was going to be a long day for them,” he said. “They might get one or two, just because that’s a good combination with Fitzpatrick and Marshall, but this is Richard Sherman; if you keep throwing his way, he’s bound to get a couple.”
Dave Boling: @DaveBoling