“There wasn’t no emotion, bro, because I don’t care about what the media says.”
That was Seahawks safety Tedric Thompson responding to a question Thursday night about a play that had happened four weeks earlier, when he misjudged a 55-yard pass that allowed the Cincinnati Bengals to score a touchdown at the end of the first half. It was the kind of play that can numb a victory, knowing that your team won in spite of you rather than because of you.
But then came Thursday’s game vs. the Los Angeles Rams, when Thompson made what has to be the Interception of the Year for the NFL season so far. And, bro, there was a whole lot of emotion then.
“It was crazy,” said Thompson, whose Seahawks beat Los Angeles 30-29 to improve to 4-1 this season. “I couldn’t even see who was in my face, everybody was so happy.”
With just over two minutes remaining in the game, and the Seahawks leading by one, Rams quarterback Jared Goff zipped a third-down pass that bounced off tight end Gerald Everett’s hands near midfield. The officials ruled the play incomplete, but Thompson was on his feet, running for the end zone.
That’s because the football never touched the ground — Thompson had dived toward the ball, slipped his white-gloved hand underneath it, batted it in the air and secured it for the pick. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll challenged the incompletion ruling, but Thompson knew it was Seattle’s ball well before the replay officials overturned it. Just ask all the fans he high-fived behind the south end zone at CenturyLink Field.
They say football is game of inches, but it appears reputations are, too. And at that moment, Thompson’s rep was redeemed.
“It was special. I’m just glad that it was him that made the play. It was the perfect moment,” Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin said. “His critics are (not) going to have a lot to say now. I just hope they have fun with it.”
Thompson’s interception didn’t end the game, as the Rams got the ball back following a Seahawks three-and-out. But it likely ended any debate as to who will be the Seahawks’ second starting safety alongside Bradley McDougald.
Lano Hill looked like he could supplant Thompson at the position, particularly after Tedric missed Weeks 2 and 3 because of a hamstring injury. But in securing the football late in the game Thursday, the third-year player seems to have secured his starting role.
It was kind of funny to watch Thompson field questions at his locker post-victory. Juxtaposing his brief, almost monotone answers with the emotion he displayed on the field was a study in polar opposites.
Then again, maybe the significance of the moment didn’t require any words. And maybe his reticent nature made his celebration all the more exhilarating for teammates.
“He never talks. He’s kinda quiet and just comes to work every game,” Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said. “He’s been through a lot. I was very happy for him with all that he’s been through. I was happy, and I told him, and not just because of the game, but that moment and that it was him.”
Clowney added that you have to have “armadillo skin” to play in the NFL, and that Thompson seems to have it. All the noise circulating after that Week 1 gaffe could have popped an eardrum, but Thompson stayed focused.
Now everyone ripping him four weeks ago is providing him with well-deserved praise. That has to feel good.
At least it would if he cared about what they have to say.