EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – This time, it was Doug Baldwin who had the Richard Sherman moment.
It wasn't televised. But it was in plain view of all the Seattle Seahawks. And it was loud. With only moments left before the start of Super Bowl XLVIII, the wide receiver let loose with a tirade so emotional that it started in the locker room and spilled onto the sideline as the national anthem drew near. Fellow receiver Percy Harvin said Baldwin was "almost in tears" and "yelling, spitting, crying."
"Imagine one of those WWE speeches," Tarvaris Jackson said, "with the guy spitting and water flying everywhere. It was like that."
Many of the Seahawks didn't understand what Baldwin was saying. Fellow receiver Ricardo Lockette translated it thusly: "Expletive, expletive, expletive, win the game, expletive, expletive, expletive, you're the best in the world!"
"He's angry, man," Lockette said.
Angry, because Seattle was not supposed to be the offensive powerhouse in this championship game. It was supposed to be Peyton Manning against the Legion of Boom. Instead, the Seahawks dropped 43 points – including a safety, a pick-six and a kickoff return – and Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse both had catches longer than anything the Denver receivers had. The two of them, each with touchdowns, outscored the Broncos by themselves.
There will be a lot of "nobody saw this coming" talk in the coming days, but Baldwin did. He told teammates before the game that "it doesn't have to be close."
It wasn't. The 43-8 rout was one of the most lopsided in Super Bowl history. The tone was set on the Seahawks' opening drive, when they unveiled a jet sweep handoff to Harvin that went for 30 yards. "We were saving that for a special moment. It hadn't been on the field all year." It was Manning, not Russell Wilson, who was forced to figure out a response for that. He couldn't.
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Meanwhile, the Seattle offense hardly struggled. It was 22-0 at halftime, and that was after two drives stalled in the red zone. After the game, the Seahawks receivers were touting the insult they've embraced as a nickname: "The Pedestrians."
"We're the Pedestrians," Lockette sniffed. "Just some Joe Blows off the street. Well, we just won the Super Bowl."
Sherman's rant after the NFC championship game had the effect of isolating him as a man unhinged, but the essence of his blast was a thought-out retaliation against slights from outside the locker room. That's been Seattle's engine all year – in the regular and postseasons. Except this time, it was fuel for the offense.
"The lack of faith," Baldwin said, still looking upset even after the game. "Percy Harvin staying healthy. Golden Tate getting open. Kearse's ability to make big plays. We had so much pent-up frustration."
He said it was the most emotional he's been before any game.
"All of us were emotional," he said, "but my emotions come out a little different."
All the accolades will pour in now, too little and too late. The entire Super Bowl season passed without many people across the country praising the Seattle offense as a group. Baldwin doesn't want any of that love now.
"I hope they don't," he said. "I pray they don't."
Even if they do, Baldwin and his teammates won't hear it anyway. The world had its chance to show "faith," and passed. Head coach Pete Carroll gathered the team around him in the noisy locker room, late on Sunday night, with the Lombardi Trophy being passed around and held aloft, and he called out some of the stars of the game: Harvin, Kearse, Baldwin – each one getting a whoop from the room. Then the team went into a chant: "We all we got! We all we need! We all we got! We all we need!"
Sitting at his locker, Kearse was approached by a supporter with his hand out.
"Average!" the man said, teasing.
"Average," he said. "That's cool. I'll be average with a Super Bowl ring."