Responsible for a few of the most impressive plays in this past Sunday's 16-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Earl Thomas has been named Defensive Player of the Week for Week 5 in the NFC.
The Seahawks free safety recorded seven tackles and a crucial interception in the game's fourth quarter, but Thomas' most impressive stop came on the Rams' opening possession when he used a Bruce Lee-esque Kung-Fu chop to force Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley to fumble near the goal line. The loose football hit the pylon and landed out of bounds, a play that by rule resulted in a touchback and gave the ball back to the Seahawks.
"I did a great job watching those Bruce Lee movies, and it kind of carried over to the football field," Thomas said postgame at L.A. Coliseum of his touchdown-saving, turnover-forcing tackle.
"It's just fighting and clawing," he added. "We always talk about, 'just give us an inch,' and I saw a chance to strike on the ball."
The play was reminiscent of an effort Thomas displayed during Week 17 of the 2014 season. In that game, which also came against the Rams, Thomas used a goal-line chop on Rams running back Benny Cunningham, who proceeded to fumble the football into and out of the end zone.
"I had never seen that play before Earl did it the first time, and he has done it twice," cornerback Richard Sherman said following this past Sunday's game. "I said, 'I've never seen anybody else do that, and you did it both times to the Rams.' It's crazy, but Earl's a heck of a player and deserves a lot of credit for never giving up and fighting to the last second."
It might be hard to believe given the highlight-reel plays 12s see Thomas make on a weekly basis, but the Defensive Player of the Week honor is the first ever for the five-time Pro Bowler and eight-year NFL veteran. Since 2012, however, the trio of Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and strong safety Kam Chancellor has now won eight Defensive Player of the Week awards.
Elsewhere in the NFC, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers earned Offensive Player of the Week, while Philadelphia Eagles punt returner Kenjon Barner took home Special Teams Player of the Week.
In the AFC, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was named Offensive Player of the Week, Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith earned Defensive Player of the Week, and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri was named Special Teams Player of the Week.
Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' 16-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams during Week 5 at L.A. Coliseum.