Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was assigned to shadow Jets receiver Brandon Marshall on Sunday. Marshall made a few plays, including a touchdown catch late in the first half, but Sherman had two interceptions.

Share story

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The release of emotion coincided with the release of the football, fired with velocity about 20 yards toward the Seahawks’ sideline.

That’s how cornerback Richard Sherman celebrated his first interception of the season. That’s how he celebrated the play of the game: by throwing the ball toward his own sideline and pointing at the field as he yelled and marched off. (His pass, for the record, was low but a rocket.)

Sherman’s interception led directly to a Seattle touchdown, which gave the Seahawks a 14-point fourth-quarter lead their defense wasn’t about to blow.

“If you want to throw it at Richard,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, “he’s going to get it.”

Before that moment, Sherman had his hands full with Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, a player Sherman and Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett called a future Hall of Famer.

Sherman knew the challenge Marshall presented, and he knew Marshall was going to make some big plays. Sherman is a veteran of enough battles to enter a fight with his eyes open. Marshall had his full respect.

Sherman got the assignment he has always wanted but hasn’t always received: He got the marching orders to shadow Marshall all over the field.

Marshall beat Sherman early in the game for a 41-yard gain down the sideline, and Sherman’s description of what went wrong offered a small look into his chess match with Marshall.

“I knew what kind of game it would be with B. Marshall so I tried to keep his hands off me,” Sherman said. “On the first long one, he kind of got his hands on me and got a good pull. That’s his move, and that’s been his move for years. I kind of felt susceptible to that, and I knew it was a game within a game. I knew if I just kept at it and kept at it, I would get my spots and get my opportunities.”

The game within the game: That’s what Sherman-Marshall stood for, a chance to watch two of the game’s elite try to solve each other.

“Fantastic to watch,” Carroll said.

Marshall got Sherman again on a 17-yard touchdown catch late in the first half, and then on the first snap of the fourth quarter he caught a 17-yard pass down the sideline on a play Sherman thought should have been offensive pass interference; instead, the pass interference was called on Sherman.

But the very next play, the Jets tried to go to Marshall again. If there’s anything we’ve learned about Sherman during his career, it’s that you might be able to get him once, maybe even twice. But if you go at him too many times, if you keep giving him chances, eventually he will figure you out.

His strength is his mind, his ability to solve the puzzle of opposing offenses, and so when he saw Marshall’s read, when he felt the play developing, he knew it was coming back at him. And it sort of surprised him.

He stepped in front of the pass this time and picked it off, setting off his football-chucking celebration.

“They came to the well one too many,” Sherman said.

Sherman gushed about Marshall and how he’s made plays wherever he’s been. He said he would have thought Marshall was hurt if he didn’t make some plays. But it was Sherman who made the play that sealed the game, and it was Sherman who intercepted another pass in the final minute.

“We just kept going at it, stayed with the course, and I was able to get mine, too,” Sherman said.

Marshall got his, but so did Sherman
A breakdown of how Brandon Marshall and Richard Sherman fared against each other in the first half and second half.
Half Receptions TDs Interceptions
First 3 (for 72 yards) 1 0
Second 1 (for 17 yards) 0 2