Seattle knew Earl Thomas was all the way back.
Now the entire NFL knows.
The league announced Wednesday that the three-time All-Pro safety who has returned exquisitely from his broken leg he got in December is the NFC’s defensive player of the week. The award comes after Thomas had a sublime forced fumble on a chop of Rams running back Todd Gurley’s arm at the goal-line pylon and then an interception in the Seahawks’ win at Los Angeles last weekend. It was his fifth game back off a broken tibia.
He could have won the honor just for the play he made on Gurley to save a touchdown.
Thing is, he had done the same thing three years earlier at the goal line--also against the Rams.
“I did a great job watching Bruce Lee movies, and it kind of carried over to the football field,” Thomas said, laughing.
Apparently, Thomas can even stop--or at least slow--time.
“In real time, it was in slow motion.”
Teammate Richard Sherman was in awe.
“I had never seen that play before Earl did it the first time, and he has done it twice,” Sherman said. “I said, ‘I’ve never seen anybody else do that, and you did it both times to the Rams!’ It’s crazy.
“But Earl’s a heck of a player and deserves a lot of credit for never giving up and fighting to the last second.”
Coach Pete Carroll said Thomas’ extraordinary day in L.A. was actually just Thomas being his ordinary self, now that he’s all the way back from that broken leg.
“That’s who Earl is,” Carroll said, “and so I love that he has those moments where he’s illustrated, you know, in such unique fashion that he can do those kinds of things.
“He’s just an extraordinary player.”
As the NFL noted in its release on Thomas, this is the eighth time the Seahawks’ secondary has earned player-of-the-week honors since 2012. But, oddly given how excellent and at times dominant he’s been in eight seasons, this is the first time Thomas has been named it.
Sherman has earned the honor four times (week 10, 2012; week two, 2013; week 15, 2013; week 13, 2014). Kam Chancellor has been named three times (week three, 2014; week 12, 2014; week 10, 2016).