Throughout his decade-long tenure in Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has almost never given out game balls in postgame locker-room celebrations. There have been a few exceptions over the years, but for the most part, Carroll has found other ways to celebrate players for big accomplishments.
On Sunday, however, Jamal Adams got a game ball.
Carroll wanted to honor Adams during the team's postgame celebration not just because he played well in yet another Seahawks victory, this time a 40-3 win over the New York Jets, but also because of the history Adams was able to make while playing against his former team.
When Adams, who the Seahawks acquired in a trade with the Jets in July, chased quarterback Sam Darnold out of bounds for a loss during the first quarter of Sunday's win, he was credited with a sack, giving him 8.5 this season. That total, which Adams has compiled in only nine games, is the most by a defensive back in a season since the NFL started tracking sacks as an official stat in 1982, breaking former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson's mark of eight sacks, set in 2005.
"We don't give game balls around here, we just don't haven't done that—we do other things, but we don't do that—but today, with the record that that Jamal Adams set of being the all-time ever sacker as a defensive back, it was just worthy of a game ball to commemorate it," Carroll said. "What a fantastic football player. He's just an incredible player, and he's not done yet, he's going to get some more numbers before the season's over. And there's a little emotional side of it too because it's against the Jets, the team he played for. It's not a big deal, but there's something when you play for another club, there's something special. I know I feel it all the time too, so I'm really proud for him and happy for him. And first thing he did was thank everybody and give credit to everybody around them, which is the humble guy that he's been since he got here. Really pleased about that."
In addition to his sack, Adams had five tackles, was strong in run defense, and had a pass defensed, though that third-down pass breakup should have been a third down interception.
"Golly, I suck," Adams said of the play. "That was horrible."
But other than that self-described horrible drop, Adams put together yet another strong performance while not letting the excitement of facing his former team affect his poise and preparation throughout the week.
"All week long, he was poised and had everything in command," Carroll said. "He brought it to last night's meeting, he brought it to the game today, and his performance showed that. He played like a real star, and he did not let any of whatever could have bubbled up affect him in any way. He just was focused and had fun playing football, and of course it's especially fun to beat your old team—that's just facts—but he handled it really well as good you could have."
Just as Carroll said was the case in the locker room, Adams thanked everyone from his teammates to coaches to the team's PR staff for the success he's had this season, and said of getting a rare game ball from Carroll, "That just shows the class of this organization and how much they support me and vice versa. We're all in it together right, and when someone achieves something pretty big, makes history, we always show love to that person, because we play this game, and the game that we love, it's not always promised. We don't know when our last game or play is going to be; it's a short window, so we have to maximize every opportunity that we get when we're on the field."
As was the case Friday when he met with the media, Adams had nothing but positive things to say about his former team: "I'm happy to be here, but I wish those guys nothing but the best. I really do, I mean that. I know a lot of Jets fans don't think I'm coming from the heart, but I really am. I'm thankful for my time over there, because I don't take it for granted. Those guys helped me in so many ways."
But now that he's in Seattle, Adams is looking forward to bigger goals than just getting this victory. With the Seahawks sitting at 9-4, they are assured of a winning record for a ninth straight year, but this is Adams' first time on a winning team during his NFL career, having won five, four and seven games during his three seasons with the Jets. And what's so encouraging to Adams and the rest of his teammates is that the Seahawks defense, after struggling in the first half of the season, is starting to live up to its potential and hit its stride just as the late-season playoff push gets underway.
"Throughout the whole year, we knew that we had talent," he said. "And we knew that we just needed to put it together. We had to communicate, we had to execute as a team, as a unit I should say. We knew once we did that, we could be special, and we're only getting better. As long as we continue to practice our tails off and continue to listen to coaching, continue to feed off of one another, bring the energy, bring the juice, play with confidence, play with swagger, we can be really, really special. And I think we're hitting our stride at the right time."
As for the actual record-breaking sacks, Adams said he wasn't even sure he got it since it occurred on a play where he didn't tackle Darnold, but rather chased him out of bounds. Statistically, however, that's a sack, giving Adams the record, though he doesn't plan to stop now.
"It really hasn't hit me yet that I broke the record but, really I'm trying to shatter it, to be real with you," he said. "This is just a start, it's not the finish. The marathon continues."
The best photos from Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Jets at Lumen Field. Fueled by Nesquik.