Last week, Richard Sherman divulged new information on Super Bowl XLIX. It had nothing to do with that infamously miserable offensive play at the goal line. Instead, Sherman spoke about Kam Chancellor’s torn MCL injury.
“We had to practice for them [New England] splitting out Gronk wide,” said Sherman on Pro Football Focus's The Chris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman.
“Honestly, that’s how Kam Chancellor got hurt; tore his MCL the Saturday before the Super Bowl,” continued Sherman.
“It’s because, they [the coaching staff] tried to, all of a sudden, make stuff up the day before the Super Bowl and sprint a buzzer out under the slant. You know when Kam is one-on-one on a fade ball, and the buzzer ran through Kam’s knee and, you know, long story short..."
It sounds like the Seahawks were experimenting with Chancellor overplaying the Rob Gronkowski fade route while still in what was technically zone defense. The buzzer is usually a defender who drops to the numbers and buzzes to the flat. The Patriots often had Gronk on the slot fade with a slant underneath that route.
In this instance, it sounds like the buzzer was quasi-doubling Gronkowski, allowing Chancellor to cheat to the fade route. This would blanket New England’s deadly target. Or Seattle was trying to flood their trips/empty coverage in an unpredictable manner.
Whatever the exact Xs and Os were, disaster struck. According to Sherman, repping the buzzer in preparation for the big game caused a freak practice injury. How Chancellor got injured was previously a mystery.
The star strong safety played through the pain wearing a knee brace. Sherman himself had damaged ligaments in his elbow in the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game. Integral free safety Earl Thomas battled versus the Patriots despite a dislocated shoulder also sustained against the Packers two weeks prior.
Nearly the entire Legion of Boom was banged up in Super Bowl XLIX and matters only got worse during the game.
Cliff Avril, star LEO pass rusher, left with a concussion. Jeremy Lane's injury was so awful it effectively ended his spell as one of the top players at his position. The slot corner suffered a compound fracture in his arm and a left ACL injury in his knee, which was particularly brutal and unfair given it came after Lane had intercepted Tom Brady in the end zone.
And the Seahawks chose not to dress backup nickel Marcus Burley, meaning Tharold Simon got thrown into a skillset mismatch versus Patriots receiver Julian Edelman—who somehow stayed in the game despite staggering around with what looked like a clear concussion early in the fourth quarter.
Simon, once highlighted by Sherman as his future successor, had his confidence shattered to depths he would never recover from after the pasting Edelman delivered.
Seattle’s defense ended up allowing a critical 14 points in the fourth quarter after Brady got comfortable. As Sherman’s recent story suggests, perhaps the Seahawks’ consecutive Super Bowl appearance was a cursed endeavor, coming in a year where each NFC postseason team was defeated in circumstances of ever-increasing agony. There’s perhaps a comforting peace in accepting that it was never meant to be, but all still painful to Seattle's fan base and everyone involved in the end.