Focus on: Playoff memories

Posted Jan 7, 2014

All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas has started four playoff games for the Seahawks since being a first-round draft choice in 2010. But his choice for the “most memorable” playoff experience might surprise you.

In four seasons with the Seahawks, Earl Thomas has been voted to the Pro Bowl three times, named All-Pro twice and played in four postseason games.

And the still-young (24), still-improving free safety is a huge reason why the Seahawks are the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs this season and preparing to host the wild-card New Orleans Saints in a divisional game at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.

Thomas’ postseason resume started with one very-wild wild-card win over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in Seattle after the 2010 season, the Seahawks’ first playoff win since 2007. Last season, he added the franchise’s first road playoff win since 1983 when the wild-card Seahawks traveled to Washington and spotted the NFC East champion Redskins a 14-0 lead before storming back for a 24-14 victory.

But when asked before Tuesday’s practice for his most memorable postseason experience, Thomas went with neither of those milestone efforts.

“Atlanta. That loss,” Thomas said.

That’s what followed last season’s win over the Redskins, a divisional game against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome where the Seahawks fell behind 20-0, rallied to take a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left and then lost on a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining.

It’s a loss that stung well into the offseason, but also served as a springboard to everything the Seahawks have achieved this season – winning the NFC West title, for the second time in four seasons under coach Pete Carroll; a 13-3 record, tying the franchise record set by the 2005 Super Bowl team; the No. 1 seed in the NFC, for only the second time in club history; and, most importantly, the collective chip the Seahawks have worn on their shoulder pads while accomplishing all this.

“That loss taught me everything, and also that game gave me all the confidence I needed,” Thomas said. “When I look back at last season, I did so many great things. But, I did one bad little error (in coverage on the Falcons’ drive to the game-winning field goal). That makes you have a bad game.

“But in all reality, you played your butt off, and you played with confidence and you played fearless. And you can live with that.”

“That’s my motto,” Thomas said. “I’m lost in this process. I love it. I’m one with it. It feels great. The rhythm is there. It’s clear. It’s just great to be a part of it.

“I’m having fun.”