Richard Sherman is ticked — and he got picked.
Teammate Michael Bennett was named as a mere alternate to the Pro Bowl — and said “I could not care less.”
“It doesn’t matter if you go to the Pro Bowl and your team is not in the Super Bowl,” Bennett said Tuesday before the NFL announced the five Seahawks selected to this season’s all-star game by votes of fellow players, coaches and fans.
They are Sherman, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, linebacker Bobby Wagner (a first-time selection) and running back Marshawn Lynch.
Five more Seahawks were selected as alternates for next month’s Pro Bowl: quarterback Russell Wilson, center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung, kicker Steven Hauschka and Bennett.
“We’re OK with that,” Bennett said before practice Tuesday for Sunday’s home game against St. Louis with a win giving the defending Super Bowl-champion Seahawks (11-4) the NFC West title and home-field advantage as the conference’s top playoff seed. “Winning the Super Bowl, it changed our lives. Winning the second one, that’s really going to change our lives.”
“We thought we got (stuff) for free last offseason,” he said. “We win it again that (stuff) is going to be free for real!
“I mean, Kansas City went 2-14 and had six guys go to the Pro Bowl (in 2012). Cleveland, they were 4-12 (in 2013) and they had five guys go. It doesn’t make any sense.
“I’ll take the ring instead.”
To illustrate Bennett’s point that Pro Bowl voting is often too subjective, based only on reputation and popularity rather than on performance in a given season — Sherman, now a two-time Pro Bowl pick, is the NFL’s leader in interceptions the past three seasons but didn’t make it in 2012. That was the season he was an All-Pro for the first of two consecutive times.
Thomas made his fourth Pro Bowl and Chancellor his third despite missing two games in November with pain in his hip, groin and bone spurs in both ankles. The invaluable, speedy and heady Wagner got his first selection despite missing five games with a broken foot tendon and torn foot ligament. The returns of Wagner and Chancellor to health has coincided with Seattle’s current five-game winning streak and one more victory from the NFC’s No. 1 seed for the postseason.
Lynch got his fourth Pro Bowl selection and fifth of his eight-year career. He has a career high 16 total touchdowns, a NFL co-leading 12 rushing scores and career-best four TDs receiving. Lynch is third in the NFL with 1,246 yards rushing.
This is the third time in four seasons Seattle’s defensive secondary has had three Pro Bowl selectees. And this is the fourth consecutive season Seattle has had at least five representatives in the Pro Bowl.
But that’s not enough for Sherman.
Asked before Tuesday’s Pro Bowl announcement if anything about it was going to make him mad, Sherman said: “If we only have five players named again.”
“It’s kind of frustrating because you sometimes feel like your teammates are getting punished for being on a good team,” he said. “Your linebackers are getting punished for not having a D-line that allows them to make 130, 140 tackles. Your D-line is being punished because everybody is not going to get 10 sacks or one guy is not going to get 14, 15 sacks – that’s difficult to get on a team like this. You just feel for guys.
“In the secondary, I think we get the acclaim a lot of times — ‘Legion of Boom’ — and they respect our games. I think it’s well-deserved. A lot of people say it’s well-deserved. I think the rest of our defense recognition would be well-deserved. I think Mike Bennett should be in the Pro Bowl this year. I think Bobby Wagner should be in the Pro Bowl; K.J. Wright should be in the Pro Bowl and a number of members of our secondary.”
Bennett has seven sacks and 17 quarterback hits this season. But his value has gone beyond those numbers. He’s often been unblockable, getting off the ball so quickly he’s left would-be blockers still in their stances.
He insists the second of the two consecutive offsides calls he got Sunday in the blowout of Arizona was erroneous because the linesman “had never seen anyone get off the ball that fast.”
Many games, he’s lived in opposing backfields, causing runners to go elsewhere or teams to devote unplanned double teams to him. He’s played almost every down of most games, 80-plus percent of snaps, as an end on run downs and often as a stand-up rush tackle up the middle on passing downs.
He agrees with Sherman that statistics and Pro Bowl voters can’t and don’t measure all that.
“Our stats aren’t going to show up individually,” Bennett said. “We’ve got guys on defense that are playing the best in the league, but statistically we aren’t going to be up there because we aren’t jumping out of our gaps to make the play. Our team scheme is, you make the play when it is your turn to make the play. We don’t try to make every play because somebody is going to be out of their gap.
“Our defense is number one in everything because we understand that. We are OK with that.”
The Seahawks are one more dominant performance in the regular-season finale against St. Louis from becoming the fourth team in NFL history to lead the league in points allowed and yards allowed in consecutive years.
They are first with 268.6 yards allowed and 16.5 points surrendered per game this season. The yardage is better than the league-best 273.6 yards Seattle allowed last season. The Seahawks surrendered 14.4 points per game while winning it all last season — and had six players selected to the Pro Bowl. Seattle had six selected for the Pro Bowl for the 2012 season, too.
Under the new unconferenced Pro Bowl format, players will be assigned to teams through a Pro Bowl draft. The game will be Jan. 25 in Glendale, Arizona, a week before the Super Bowl there. Players selected for the Pro Bowl whose teams made the Super Bowl will not play; that’s where the alternates and (if those are all used) players not announced Tuesday come in.