Before our final regular season game, I had one of the great experiences of my NFL career so far: I was given the Steve Largent Award. That’s an award that means a lot because my teammates and coaches voted for me. It says that they look at me as a guy who is uplifting for the whole team. To know that they feed off my energy is very humbling.
When they handed me the award, I felt how heavy that hardware was, and it made me feel so good. It warmed my heart. It brought tears to my eyes to just be in that moment on our home field. It elevated me. That’s the type of emotion you need. When your emotion comes from a good place, I think you have the best chance of being successful, and having the best game you can have.
You dream of these kinds of moments when it’s just you in the stadium, and you connect with everybody because everybody is just cheering you on and congratulating you for all your hard work. It’s one of those sports memories I’ll never forget.
Once I got that award in my hand, it also made me want something else. It made me want more. That’s one of my mottos. If I have success, I always want more success.
We’ve had a lot of success in the Legion of Boom this year, and that led to three Pro Bowl selections for our secondary. It’s a great honor, especially because of the hard work we put in this season. The biggest thing that we take from that is just the realization of how hard we push each other in practice and how that helps us separate from the pack, from everybody else in the league. That’s really standing out right now.
It’s the first Pro Bowl for Sherm and he’s definitely earned it, as have Kam and I. But it’s not about just one person. We’re a unit. We all make plays. A prime example is Byron Maxwell. He only started five games for us, and had four interceptions. That just shows how bad we all want it. We have a lot of talent here in Seattle, and we just keep looking forward. We’re going to keep building.
I’m really excited to be selected to the Pro Bowl, but I’m not focused on it. Once you get an award or an honor, you have to take a moment to appreciate it, and then move on. That’s what we’re doing.
Because the week of the Pro Bowl, I want to be getting ready for the Super Bowl.
LOCKING UP HOME FIELD
Getting that win last week was big for us in a number of ways. We locked up home field advantage, we won the NFC West — which we set out to do from day one — and basically, we’re in control of our own destiny. We wouldn’t want it any other way. The best thing about it is we get to play in front of our great crowd, the 12th man. They bring that energy, and we feed off of that. They know it, and we know it. We’re all connected.
Malcom Smith got us started in that game with an interception that he took back for a touchdown. That was a very cool moment. He’s one of the guys who doesn’t get a lot of credit — he’s not in the limelight — but he’s a hard worker. He’s a great athlete, very fast and very instinctive, and it showed right there. That’s a flash of greatness. If he owns that moment, owns his performance from last week, he’ll be one of the best.
A play like that early in the game surges the energy for the team, and everybody can feel that. Especially when we’re at home and the crowd gets into it like that, that’s when the magic happens.
Our defensive line played its best game of the season. Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and all those guys did a great job. They played together as one, and it seemed like they were in the backfield on every play. They dominated from snap one.
The bottom line for that win was that we didn’t take the Rams lightly, and we prepared as if it was going to be a tough game. We were ready for the challenge, and it showed. If we keep that same mentality, we’ll be in a great spot.
STAYING IN THE ZONE
This week is my first playoff bye week, so it’s a new experience for me. But I’m just trying to take it like a normal week. I took a couple days off, and then went back to work. I don’t want to lose that feeling of being in the zone. I’m not really paying attention to who we might face. I’m just trying to get my game right, stay in my zone and trying not to be affected by what’s going on outside of Seattle.
Practices this week are more or less a competition between us, because at the end of the day, it’s always about us and what we do. Coach Carroll has come up with a setup at the end of the week where we do Turnover Thursday, where the offense and defense compete against each other to see if the defense can get the ball. The emphasis is always on the ball. I think that’s why we’re so good at creating turnovers, because we are always talking about it.
Friday is No Repeat Friday, where we just try to have the perfect practice without repeating anything. It’s kind of like OTAs, where it’s fun and up-tempo. Our defense vs. Russell Wilson and the offense. There’s a lot of trash-talking, but you love that as a player. That builds the fire going into our first playoff game.
We’re going to work on all phases of the game. It takes all phases to win it all. Most importantly for us, it’s going to take special teams and defense. We have to be flawless there. It’s important for us to get the ball back in the hands of the offense as much as possible. We know once they get their rhythm, they’re not looking back. I think Russell Wilson is in the zone right now, and that’s going to be very helpful going forward. We know when those guys get going, with Russ, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and especially when you add Percy Harvin coming back, it’s going to be good for our team.
START OF A NEW SEASON
The league does have four great matchups coming up this week, and I believe anything can happen in all of them. It’s just like the beginning of the season. Records go out the window. These games are 0-0. The team that gets hot will have the best chance.
The Green Bay Packers playing the San Francisco 49ers is going to be a great matchup. It could go either way. The game is in Green Bay, and you never know what the weather is going to be like up there. The Packers having Rodgers back changes a lot just because he’s a dominant quarterback. He’s the MVP, the best player on that team, and that team’s leader. Any time you have your best player with the chance to have the ball in his hands on every play, you’re in a good position.
In the other NFC matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints, both of the offenses are very potent, and have explosive personnel. It’s going to come down to whose defense can stop the other, that’s what is going to determine who wins the game. An offense can carry you during the season, but when it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and the games are magnified, it’s going to come down to the defenses. Championships are always won by the defense.
I also have my eye on the AFC game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts. My good friend Jamaal Charles plays for the Chiefs. We grew up together, and then we went to college together at Texas. He’s like my brother, and I have to support him.
Jamaal is one of the most humble guys you could ever meet. We’re from the same area in the Golden Triangle, and we grew up together. He’s from Port Arthur, Texas, which is maybe 10 minutes from where I grew up in Orange, Texas. I played running back all my life until I got to college, and he was kind of like the big dog at running back in that area. Everybody looked up to Jamaal Charles.
He was always a dynamic guy. He’s doing the same thing now in the league that he’s been doing since high school. His mentality is very focused and determined. He wants to prove that he’s the best. That’s who he is. He’s always trying to find ways to prove who he is. Every time he touches the ball — whether it’s a run play, a screen play or catching the ball deep — he can take it to the house.
He’s a complete running back and it’s just great to see him elevate his game. He’s on that list for offensive MVP, so it’s kind of crazy that two brothers are up for offensive and defensive MVP. We’ve sent a couple of texts back and forth throughout the year about possibly meeting up on the field at the end of this year, but none in the last few weeks because we’ve both been on the grind, and focused on our teams.
Kansas City is a great team. They have great players all over the field. They had four or five Pro Bowlers last year despite their record. They also had a lot of other guys hurt and that set them back. But this year they came out and played great. Their defense has been one of the best in the NFL besides us, so that’s a credit to that coaching staff. They also took a lot of our former players off the waiver wire, so that helps, I’m sure.
The Colts are also a very good team. They beat us earlier this year, so we know first hand what they’re about. They have a great quarterback in Andrew Luck. They’ve been kind of up and down this year, but I still think they’re a great football team, and that’s going to be a great game.
I’m not too familiar with San Diego and Cincinnati. But you know Cincinnati has A.J. Green, so you have to know where he is at all times. For San Diego, as a fellow safety, I like Eric Weddle’s game, and I’m looking forward to seeing that matchup between those two guys. It’s going to be exciting to watch.
I want to encourage all my fans to continue posting your pictures in your No. 29 jerseys to Facebook and Twitter using #IIIsCompany so that I can see them, and we can include them on the III’s Company section of the website.
Every time I log on to Facebook and Twitter and see young kids in my jersey, couples in my jersey and families in my jersey celebrating a great moment, I feed off that energy. That’s really big and uplifting for me, especially through a grinding time in the season. It shows me how much you all are connected to not only me, but to the Seahawks.
You always want to leave your legacy and your mark, and I play for those of you who wear our colors. Those of you who support me, I couldn’t do it without you, and III’s Company is my way of thanking you for helping me on this journey.
As we get set to embark on this playoff run, I want you all to know that there are even better things to come. The great thing about it for us players is that the 12th man is along for the ride.