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Updated Monday, December 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Richard Sherman leads Seahawks' comically good defense

By Jerry Brewer
Seattle Times staff columnist

The Seahawks made laughable history Sunday, and no one laughed harder than Richard Sherman. The cornerback is always at the center of fun and frivolity, even when he's also entangled in controversy.

Sherman is either innocent of this performance-enhancing drugs charge, or he's the most impervious busted athlete ever. Or he can convince himself to think anything to fit any moment, to see blue skies when clouds are hovering. It's a kind of mental fortitude that you must admire, despite having conflicting thoughts about his possible four-game suspension.

He is an irrepressible spirit. You enjoy him because he leaves you no choice. You wince at his bravado and wonder when his antics will become too much. But then he does something spectacular again, he celebrates like a first-grader at recess, and you can't help but smile while shaking your head. Suddenly, you're impervious to cynicism.

Did you see Sherman against Arizona on Sunday, the life of the Seahawks' absurd 58-0 party, intercepting and dancing and gesturing? He returned his first pick for a 19-yard touchdown and did what his teammates referred to as the "Sherman Shuffle" or "Ringworm Sherm." Later, he added his second interception and recovered a fumble, accounting for three of the eight turnovers the Seahawks forced.

He also drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for pretending to dig the Cardinals' grave with safety Kam Chancellor. After the flag, Sherman pointed to the official and said, "Good call."

He should be more humble. He should be more subdued. If his appeal of his PED suspension isn't compelling this week, he should feel ashamed and remorseful.

But don't expect anything from Sherman other than a big smile and an even bigger dose of bravado. He's an entertainer clad in Teflon. When he's on his game, he blinds you with his effectiveness.

He caught more passes than Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona's prodigious wide receiver. Sherman had two interceptions. Fitzgerald caught one pass for two measly yards, the victim of both an aggressive Seahawks secondary and the pitiful play of quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.

"I would've never in my wildest dreams expected that," Sherman said.

There were a lot of dream-defying aspects of this game. It was laughable history — franchise records for points scored and largest margin of victory.

The Seahawks entered the game having outscored opponents by 40 total points over 12 games this season. And then they went out and won by 58.

The Seahawks were so thorough and persistent in their domination of the Cardinals that you doubled over at the ridiculousness. It was bird-on-bird crime.

In their Week 1 matchup, the game wasn't decided until the final play, and Arizona won 20-16. Who loses to a team 58-0 after beating them earlier in the season?

"It's unfathomable, especially in the NFL," said Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond, who played a fantastic game replacing the suspended Brandon Browner.

This was the kind of performance the Seahawks defense needed after several weeks of struggles. They didn't hemorrhage yards and then save themselves with turnovers. They shut down the Cardinals completely. Arizona gained 154 yards, compared to the Seahawks' season-high 493. The Cardinals never really threatened to score.

"It was unbelievable," Sherman said. "It was a total team effort."

There were standouts aplenty: Marshawn Lynch (128 rushing yards, three touchdowns) and Robert Turbin (108 yards) led a run game that mauled the Cardinals and amassed 284 yards. Russell Wilson didn't play much in the second half, but he threw for 148 yards and a touchdown. Backup tight end Anthony McCoy became the first Seahawks receiver to reach 100 yards in a game this season, catching three passes for 105 yards and showing great agility on a 67-yard reception.

It was the most complete performance the Seahawks have had this season. It was the most pathetic performance the Cardinals have had. And by the second half, it was a joke.

As usual, Sherman laughed the longest and hardest. He also was the most disruptive of all the Seahawks' defensive players.

"Sherm had a great game," safety Earl Thomas said. "That's what he's capable of."

Over the past few weeks, as you've awaited the truth about his possible suspension, you have had to ponder the dark side of what Sherman is capable of, but for one day — one wild, lopsided day — he looked less like the accused and more like the best cornerback in the NFL.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com.


DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Richard Sherman returns the first of his two interceptions into the end zone to put the Seahawks ahead 24-0. Sherman shut down Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and led a dominant Seattle defense.




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