Pete Carroll couldn’t remember the last time he handed out a game ball. The ceremonial locker-room presentation is a ritual for many NFL teams after a victory — a standard acknowledgment of significant contribution — but Carroll couldn’t remember if he’s ever handed out a game ball to a player in his 11 seasons with the Seahawks. He acknowledges guys in other ways, but never with game balls.

He broke his tradition Sunday. He gave a game ball to Jamal Adams after the Seahawks’ 40-3 thumping of the winless New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.


Seahawks 40, Jets 3

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Carroll even made sure, in the opening remarks of his postgame videoconference call, to volunteer that he had presented Adams the game ball. He was that happy for Adams.

“What a fantastic football player,” the Seahawks coach said. “He’s just an incredible player — and he’s not done yet.”

Carroll, specifically, was talking about the NFL record Adams broke Sunday. Adams chased Jets quarterback Sam Darnold out of bounds for a loss of 1 yard in the second quarter, which officially counted as a sack and gave Adams the record for most sacks by a defensive back in a season.

Adams has 8½ sacks in nine games — with still three more regular-season games to play in his first season in Seattle.

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“I’m trying to shatter it, to be real with you,” Adams said. “This is just the start.”

Adams was chasing the sacks record while playing for the Jets last season, and he had been vocal about how badly he wanted to break it. He even had a dance planned to celebrate the moment, one inspired by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Except, when the record-breaking sack happened, Adams had no idea he had been credited with one.

“All I heard was Pete on the sideline when I chased Sam down: ‘That’s a sack, that’s a sack, that’s a sack!”’ Adams said. “I was like, ‘All right, next play.’ But then I came to the sideline and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I really did break the record.’ Not really my idea of how I wanted to break it, but God is good man. I’ve faced so many obstacles and I’ve failed so many times, and when you fail you realize that you needed that for the perseverance and you needed that for faith. And I gained that.”

For as proud as Carroll sounded about Adams’ record, the coach sounded just as pleased with how Adams approached his first game against his old team since last summer’s blockbuster trade to Seattle. In the buildup, Carroll said he had addressed Adams’ emotional preparation directly with Adams, and said he appreciated how “poised” the safety was all week.

“His performance showed that he was — he played like a real star,” Carroll said. “He did not let any of whatever could have bubbled up affect him in any way. He just was focused and had fun playing football.

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“And, of course, it’s especially fun to beat your old team — that’s just facts. But he handled it really well.”

Adams finished with five tackles and one pass breakup — on a gift-wrapped interception he dropped in the first half. (“Golly, I suck — that was horrible,” Adams said with a chuckle.)

With Adams mostly healthy now, the Seahawks defense continued its second-half surge. Yes, the Jets are 0-13 and have the worst offense in the NFL. But the Seahawks say this is another confidence-builder for a defense that was roundly criticized for the first three months of the season.

“Throughout the whole year we knew we had talent,” Adams said. “And we knew we just had to put it together. … Once we did that we could be special. And we’re only getting better, man. So, as long as we continue to, you know, practice our tail off and continue to listen to coaching, continue to … play with confidence, play with swagger, man, we can be really, really special. And I think we’re hitting our stride at the right time.”