Seconds after making the game-saving play to send Seattle to the Super Bowl, cornerback Richard Sherman was fired up.
Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree near the corner of the end zone with less than a minute left, right into the arms of Seattle teammate Malcolm Smith to seal the Seahawks’ 23-17 win.
Sherman was subsequently whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, after exchanging words with Crabtree and making what appeared to be a choking gesture.
Asked about the incident afterward by Fox reporter Erin Andrews, Sherman stole the show and lit up Twitter with a rant that began: “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me!”
Sherman didn’t back down later. He apologized to Andrews, then proceeded to call Crabtree “mediocre,” making sure to annunciate each syllable of the word.
“I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver that’s what happens.”
It was a fiery, emotional rant from Sherman, who celebrated his first Super Bowl trip by racing around the field after Russell Wilson took the final knee, then leaping into the first row of seats in the south end zone to celebrate with fans.
Sherman was rarely targeted by San Francisco, with most of the throws going toward Sherman’s teammate Byron Maxwell. But when Colin Kaepernick had to make a throw in the final seconds, he decided to challenge the All-Pro.
Sherman stayed with Crabtree, leaped and batted the ball into the air with his left hand. That allowed Smith to run underneath and make the interception that clinched the victory.
“I knew if I tipped it high enough someone would get there,” Sherman said.
Sherman then ran over to Crabtree and gave him a pat on the backside, then appeared to extend his arm for a handshake. Instead, Sherman got shoved in the face before picking up his personal foul as his celebration continued.
“We just couldn’t capitalize. Sherman made a good play. That’s probably the only play he made all game,” Crabtree said. “I ain’t getting into that, he knows what time it is. When we’re on the field, he ain’t doing nothin’. That’s one play, you know what I’m saying? … He’s a TV guy, I’m not a TV guy. I play ball.”
Sherman said his issues with Crabtree go back to something that happened during the offseason but would not go into detail.
“He said something personal face-to-face. He knows what he said and he knows I’m going to be tough on him the rest of his career.”