RENTON Where does Earl Thomas rank this shoulder-to-the-chest hit that punctured hulking Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s lung among those the Seahawks free safety has had in his All-Pro career?
“I don’t think it’s about the hit. It was just the situation, who I was facing and how I was able to read it,” Thomas said Thursday, four days after he leveled Gronkowski with a hit people are still talking about -- and from which Gronkowski has yet to recover to practice this week. “It was Tom (Brady). He is a great quarterback. I think I took a step in the right direction of trusting myself.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week he was proud of how clean and by-the-book Thomas’ hit was, and that he was glad that Gronkowski wasn’t hurt even more seriously.
Thomas took pride in that, too.
“There is so much power in fundamentals. And what I am trying to accomplish is, I’m trying to be the best to ever do this thing.” Thomas said.
“For the next generation, when they watch a safety, I want them to emulate me.
“Fundamentals, decisive movements, everything goes hand in hand with fundamentals.”
HisEat coach was proud that the Seahawks’ teachings of not leading with the head but with the shoulder came through.
“It’s awesome just to show that what we’re coaching here is not going on deaf ears,” defensive coordinator Kris Richard said following Thursday’s practice in the November sun. “The guys care about doing it right. They care about not costing our team with penalties. And it just goes to show that you can play aggressively, you can hit hard -- and you can do it legally and have a great impact.”
Thomas said he was impressed Gronkowski missed only five plays before he returned to finish Sunday’s night game in Foxborough, which Seattle won 31-24. Brady’s last-play pass for Gronkowski went past him and Seahawk Kam Chancellor as they collided in the end zone.
“It was a very gutsy performance. Wasn’t his (lung) punctured, and he still played in the game?” Thomas said of Gronkowski, who like Thomas is a three-time All-Pro. “You can tell he loves it.
“I don’t know. I don’t think a regular person would do it, you know. So I think he’s a very tough guy.”
Earlier this week Gronkowski and Thomas traded Twitter bouquets to each other about the play.
“It was pretty cool,” Thomas said of the exchange. “There is a reason why he is a special player and a lot of people love him. He is authentic in his approach. And I respect that.”
Last week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick equated Thomas to Ed Reed as the best safeties ever in football.
“Personally it really doesn’t mean a lot, because I know who I am,” Thomas said.
“But, you know, you never really hear him talk about anyone else like that.”
As for Gronkowski being almost 60 pounds heavier than he yet Thomas flattening the huge tight end?
“I grew up on David and Goliath. You hear the story,” Thomas said. “So it’s just normal to me.”