November 20, 2011
The Seattle Seahawks' 24-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams was not pretty by any means — the Seahawks managed just 148 yards through the air, and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson(notes) managed to mangle his team's first two drives with interceptions.
However, the Rams were unable to take advantage of Seattle's mistakes, because their offensive line has been blown apart by injuries. Seattle took full advantage, sacking Sam Bradford(notes) five times and forcing two fumbles.
That pressure came up in other ways, as it did when defensive tackle Brandon Mebane(notes) leaping to bat a Bradford pass, and defensive end Red Bryant(notes) — all 330-ish pounds of him — hustled to pick off that pass with 5:27 left in the game. Bryant got about five yards downfield before receiver Austin Pettis(notes) -- who almost caught the ball before Bryant got it -- took him down.
"It was one of those things — tips and overthrows," Bryant said after the game. "I was in the right situation, [defensive coordinator] Gus [Bradley] made a call where I was dropping into coverage, and I was lucky enough to be around the ball and snagged it out of there."
The real question, though — where did the big man get those running back skills? He know to switch hands to keep the ball away from oncoming defenders on the return, and he delivered a pretty nice stiffarm before he was taken down.
"That was all instincts right there," he said. "I started to the end zone and I had tunnel vision! I was trying to get [the tackler] off of me."
Of course, there are things about Bryant's running style that still need work. For one, why no celebration after the play?
"I wanted to celebrate, but I was tired. I was screaming and yelling, but that's all I had. I wished I could have gotten up and danced a little bit."
More importantly, Bryant and his linemates put the clamp down on Rams running back Steven Jackson, allowing Jackson just 42 yards on 15 carries.
"Steven Jackson is one hell of a player," Bryant said. "We know that he was the key to their offense, and we had to come out with a great effort to contain him. It's hard to stop him, but we hoped to contain him, and we wanted to set the tone up front."
Mission accomplished, but as Bryant showed, he's also surprisingly dangerous when he's dropping back.
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