PHOENIX – The Seahawks might not be Super Bowl champions, but they played with the hearts of champions in Super Bowl XLIX.
Especially the All-Pro trio of cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor, who played in Sunday night's 28-22 loss to the New England Patriots with injuries that would have sidelined players with less fortitude and tenacity.
That was the point that coach Pete Carroll emphasized on Monday before the team returned to Seattle, and for good reason.
"Last night was an extraordinary game," Carroll said. "It was an extraordinary effort from guys who played through unbelievable issues. And you didn't ever know it during the game. Earl and Sherm, to make it through this game and play with the problems they have is one thing that was notable. For Kam Chancellor to play in this game was just like superhuman stuff. He shouldn't have been able to go."
Chancellor had 10 tackles, Thomas nine and Sherman three.
"That was a heroic thing that those guys did to play," Carroll said. "They wanted to play for their teammates and they did exactly that, and they did it in great fashion."
Nickel back Jeremy Lane didn't finish the game after breaking his left forearm – while returning the first interception of his NFL career. He will need surgery to repair what Carroll called "a real difficult break."
Sherman also will need surgery to repair the ligaments he damaged in his left elbow in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game two weeks ago, Carroll said. Despite the injury, Sherman continued to play in the overtime victory against the Green Bay Packers; did not miss a practice in the two weeks between the NFC title game and the Super Bowl; and played every defensive snap against the Patriots.
"His will to play through this in that game a couple weeks ago and to take it all the way through this game never wavered. Never wavered," Carroll said. "It was as courageous and as clear as Earl was, as Kam was when it came time."
Thomas injured his left shoulder in the second quarter against the Packers. He finished that game and played in the Super Bowl wearing a harness. Carroll said he was not sure if Thomas' injury would require surgery.
Chancellor injured his left knee during practice on Friday and might have aggravated an old injury, Carroll said. He played with a brace on his knee in the Super Bowl.
"He may have had an earlier injury from years past. He did wear a brace at times earlier in his career," Carroll said. "That may indicate why he was able to come back so fast from this. Maybe some of the damage was from before.
"But he had a hurt knee and he got banged really hard on it. He just woke up the next morning, with all of the resolve and all of the prayers that were sent his way, and he was ready to go (in Saturday's walkthrough). And then he woke up on Sunday morning and said, 'I can do this.' And he went out there and played and it was a superhuman thing that he pulled off."
The efforts of Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor embodied the way the entire team played, as Carroll viewed it.
"They represent so many other guys, all of this team that has played so well together and been so strong and so effective," he said. "We're a terrific team. We're a very young team that's got a lot of future and a lot of hope and we're going all kinds of places, and everybody knows that.
"But with that, there's the shock and disappointment that this game gets away from us. It goes another way, right at the finish line. So it's something we have to deal with. But in the long run of it, it will make us stronger and we'll be able to put it in some kind of perspective."
Carroll then paused for a moment before adding, "The future is very, very bright for us. And we all know that."
Super Bowl game action photos.