RENTON Richard Sherman was shaking his head on and off for about 10 full minutes.
Four days after he praised Deshaun Watson’s 402-yard, four-touchdown performance against him--“Has there ever been a rookie that does that?”--Sherman and his Seahawks teammates were stunned and saddened Thursday afternoon learning on their smart phones the Houston Texans rookie quarterback tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in practice.
Watson is out for the rest of what had been his wondrous season.
The Seahawks are bummed for him. There is mad respect for him inside Seattle’s locker room for what Watson did in Houston’s 41-38 loss at CenturyLink Field last weekend.
Now they are just sad.
“It’s just unfortunate. It’s terrible news,” Sherman said, after talking with teammates Michael Bennett and others about Watson’s injury just before the Seahawks started practice for Sunday’s game against Washington.
“I feel terrible for him and his family. He had such a bright future--still has a bright future--but his rookie year is cut short. Probably had one of the best rookie months that anybody’s had for a long time, so I’m sure he will still be in the running for rookie of the year. But just not anything you want to hear.”
It’s rare in sports to see such respect and genuine sadness from players about an opponent they just conquered like the Seahawks said and showed for Watson on Thursday.
And the Seahawks didn’t beat Watson more than they simply outlasted him.
Last Sunday in Seattle, the 22-year-old rookie and national-championship winner at Clemson last season looked like an elite mad bomber in just his sixth NFL start. He and his 469 total yards left Sherman to marvel the kid was making Russell Wilson-like plays that few if any elite QBs of any age can make.
It took Wilson throwing for a Seahawks-record 452 yards and the winning touchdown to Jimmy Graham with 21 seconds remaining to beat Watson. After the game, Wilson said Watson is “special. Give him the rookie of the year, right now.”
Judging by the empathy and reactions around their locker room to his brutal injury four days later, the Seahawks still feel that way.
Sherman agreed that was perhaps the best performance by a QB, of any age, in Seattle against the Seahawks not just in the Pete Carroll era but any era.
“Right, right,” Sherman says. “It just sucks that he can’t get to continue his season and finish it out. Just a freak accident, man.