EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Leave it to Stanford graduate Richard Sherman to reference a line from a late 1800's/early 1900's English author in his postgame press conference.
After a back-and-forth battle between Sherman and Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Seahawks cornerback loosely quoted Rudyard Kipling's poem If while relaying to reporters how he is able to put the last play, be it good or bad, behind him and move on.
"Treat the two imposters the same, success and failure, because neither one of them define you," Sherman said following Seattle's 27-17 win at New York. "That's the way it is. Every play is a new opportunity, a new opportunity to do something great, regardless of what you did the play before."
The question came up because the first half of Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium offered fans something they rarely see: a wideout having success on one of the game's top cornerbacks.
For much of Week 4, Sherman, who primarily plays coverage on the left side of the field, shadowed Marshall wherever he lined up. Yet despite Sherman sticking to Marshall, the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't shy away from their top receiver, as Marshall caught three of his six targets in the first two quarters for 72 yards and a touchdown.
In the second half, though, Seattle's defense, and Sherman in particular, responded. With New York trailing by one score to start the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick came at Sherman on back-to-back occasions. The first went to Marshall for 17 yards and Sherman was flagged for defensive pass interference on the play. But the second, a throw Fitzpatrick later said was the same route as the play before, was picked off by Sherman for his first takeaway of the season, and it led to a Seahawks scoring drive and a two-touchdown lead the defense would not relinquish.
"They came to the well one too many," Sherman said. "I knew coming into this game that it'd be a dog fight with Brandon. He's going to end up in the Hall of Fame with a gold jacket because he's done it everywhere he's been. He did it in Miami, he's doing it in New York, he did it in Denver. He's just a great player and he's going to make his plays and I knew that coming in. That's how the matchups go."
Said Marshall, who finished catching four of his 12 targets for 89 yards: "He made a great play. … There's nothing you can really do about that. He's a really smart player."
"The guy is an All-Pro player," New York head coach Todd Bowles added of Sherman's pick. "He made an All-Pro play."
The sixth-year pro Sherman said Kris Richard, Seattle's former secondary coach turned defensive coordinator, helped him put bad plays behind him "very early" in his career dating all the way back to his rookie season. Sherman knew that even after a less-than-ideal first half if he "just kept at it" against the Jets he'd eventually get opportunities to take the football away. Sure enough, later in the fourth quarter with less than a minute to play, Sherman ended up adding another interception of a Fitzpatrick ball again intended for Marshall, upping his League-leading interception count since 2011 to 28.
"If they kept throwing at him, it was going to be a long day for them," said Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. "They might get one or two, just because that's a good combination with Fitzpatrick and Marshall, but it's Richard Sherman. If you keep throwing his way, he's bound to get a couple."
Added Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner: "There are only so many times you can try Richard Sherman before he figures it out. He came away with two picks, he's a smart man."
Marshall labeled Sunday's matchup between the two Pro Bowlers as "definitely a fight all game" and Seattle head coach Pete Carroll called it a bout that was "fantastic to watch."
"There was some real drama within the game of a great classy matchup between two terrific players," Carroll said. "… If you want to throw it at Richard, he's going to get it, and he showed that today."
As alluded to above, Sherman realizes that just like his first-half failures against New York his second-half successes won't define him moving forward. And after the Seahawks enjoy a Week 5 bye, the team's first opponent coming out of the break represents another unique challenge for Sherman and the secondary, as Seattle welcomes the Atlanta Falcons and star receiver Julio Jones, who had 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, to CenturyLink Field.
"That's going to be a big deal," Sherman said. "He's a good friend and it's going to be a fun matchup battling him."
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Look through some action photos from Week 4 vs the New York Jets at MetLife Field.