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The topic was Craig Terrill’s latest blocked field goal. But Lofa Tatupu called an audible, switching the conversation to the first of Terrill’s eight career blocks.
It came in 2005, Terrill’s second year with the Seahawks and Tatupu’s rookie season.
“Craig came in for one field goal because – I’m not going to say who – one of the guys, I went to push him and he got mad,” said Tatupu, whose job on all those blocks by Terrill has been to give him a boost in the right direction.
“So I told that guy, ‘Do me a favor. The next time we have a field goal, you get out of here and bring someone in who wants to block it.’ ”
Enter Terrill, and the rest has become history.
Craig Terrill has blocked three field goals this season, giving him eight in his seven year career - which ties a pair of club records.
Heading into Sunday night’s nationally televised regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field that will decide the NFC West championship, Terrill has three blocks this season and eight for his career. Each ties a franchise record that was set by Joe Nash.
That first block in ’05 came against the Washington Redskins. He added two more the following season, against the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers. He had one each in 2008 (vs. the Buffalo Bills) and 2009 (vs. the Houston Texans). This season, his double-thump efforts came last week in Tampa and also against the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears.
But back to numero uno for a second.
“It was a fluke,” Tatupu said. “Craig was playing that series (on defense). Back then, whoever was out for that series stayed on for the field goal.
“I went to him and said, ‘Craig, this guard, he’s setting high. We can get him. But you’ve got to keep your feet going. If you just keep your feet running and stay low, I will get you through and you’ve just got to get your hands up.’ He said, ‘Alright, let’s do it.’ ”
But wait, there’s more.
“It wasn’t even a designed block,” Tatupu said. “The block was supposed to come from the outside. But I pushed. We went. And he gets his first career block.”
From fluke to the start of what has become a block party.
And the story begins even before Terrill and Tatupu combined for that first block. Terrill had blocked a field goal while at Purdue – it was against Wisconsin, in overtime, the year the Boilermakers went to the Rose Bowl. Tatupu, meanwhile, had supplied the impetus for a half dozen blocks by Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson during his college career at USC.
This season, functioning in what Tatupu labels an “amazing scheme” designed by special teams coaches Brian Schneider and Jeff Ulbrich, Terrill has his hat-trick and the field-goal block unit has come tantalizing close to getting hands on several others – one or two by Aaron Curry, another pair by Raheem Brock and a couple more by Terrill.
“It’s tough to see when you watch those that you miss,” Terrill said, always wanting – and striving for – more. “But we’re happy to get those that we have.”
They have them because of a technique that is called the “V,” and involves isolating one blocker.
“We try to get a ricochet and get hands up,” Schneider said. “We don’t do a whole lot, but we try to be really consistent with our effort.”
Three blocks in one season – and a short season at that for Terrill, who was released on Sept. 7 and then re-signed Oct. 1. That sounds like consistency.
“The key?” Schneider said. “Craig just keeps going. He does exactly what we want him to do, he’s got a couple guys working with him – Brock is in there with him and Lofa is pushing. But Craig just keeps going and gets his hands up.
“Some guys just have a knack for it, and Craig definitely does.”
This season, Terrill has blocked kicks with his left hand, right hand and – on Sunday – both hands.
“Sometimes those guys are pulling you down,” said Terrill, a defensive tackle when he’s not blocking kicks. “So it’s really whatever hand you want to get up, or can get up. You want to usually get your inside hand up, because that’s more in the line of the kick. But sometimes, if someone’s got a hold of you or you’re pushing with that hand, you just get whatever you can up.”
Terrill stresses that his blocks are not a one-man show, but a case of everyone on the unit doing his job to make it easier for Terrill to do his. That includes Marcus Trufant, Lawyer Milloy, Dexter Davis, Kentwan Balmer, Matt McCoy, Kam Chancellor and Kelly Jennings, in addition to Terrill, Tatupu, Brock and Curry.
“It’s a machine. Everybody’s got to do their part, from the outside in,” Terrill said. “If they don’t rush on the outside, then they can pinch everything down and it makes it hard to get penetration in the middle. So everybody on that unit is there for a reason – they’re committed to blocking kicks.
“When you have offensive linemen down and hunkered up and ready to hold the line, just everyone running into somebody doesn’t work. You kind of have to pinpoint your spots.”
Terrill not only has a knack for pinpointing those spots, it comes with a pattern.
“Like the kicker has his rhythm, Craig has his,” Tatupu said. “Left foot up. Or right foot up. Step. Step. Step. Turn. Punch. Jump.
“He might not even be aware of it, but he does. Every kick we’ve blocked, I’ve noticed the same exact deal.”
Speaking of similarities, Terrill is a lot like the player whose records he has tied. Nash was a no-nonsense, embrace-the-dirty-work player – the type former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox used to call a lunch-pail and hard-hat performer, in that he’d always show up on time and give you a good day’s work.
That was Nash. That is Terrill
“That’s what I’ve been told,” Terrill said of the comparisons to Nash. “I really respect Joe Nash and the way he played, so it’s cool to share a record with him.”
Blocked field goals don’t happen that often – no matter how Terrill is making it look this season. But they can alter the momentum of the game.
“All the fans get excited. You’ve changed the momentum. It’s something fun,” Tatupu said. “It’s been an honor to be part of that record, but I’m trying to get Craig in sole possession of that record.”