SEATTLE – Play after play, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin kept lining up on the right side of the offensive formation. Occasionally, he jogged out there from the huddle. Mostly, though, he just ran to his spot and, in the up-tempo system, and looked back to quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the call.
Sometimes it asked him to sprint deep and find open room. Sometimes he was supposed to jam open some space short. There were curls, and cuts, and even curls and cuts on the same play, double moves. On running plays, he blocked.
Every single time he went hard. Give the man credit for that. Sometimes he was open, or at least looked like it from afar.
It didn't matter. Rodgers never threw him the ball. He rarely even glanced his way, actually. It's a wonder the QB even bothered to signal the play over to the gone-and-forgotten right side.
Boykin was essentially off by himself, living in the NFL netherworld that comes when you stand across from Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. You're on the field but an invisible figure – snap after snap of lining up and playing hard even if you know it's essentially a waste of time.
"It's not frustrating," Boykin said later at his locker. "I understand it takes a whole team and a unit to click, so I go out there and do my job to the best of my ability. … You have to play your game, let the game come to you."
It just never came to him, or, more directly, the ball never came in Sherman's direction. Boykin could only be philosophical, respectful of his opponent but not deferential.
"I mean he's a smart corner but I don't see him any different than any other corner," said Boykin, a 24-year-old out of Virginia Tech. "He's beatable."
Sherman is, indeed, beatable. To be beaten, however, someone would have to try to beat him.
"Why would they?" linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "They throw it to his side, it'll get picked."
Sherman's stat line from Seattle's opening-night 36-16 victory was nothing. Literally, nothing.
No interceptions. No pass breakups. No throws in his direction at all. There was not even a tackle, although one time he had a shot at running back James Starks on a broken play. He missed that one, perhaps the only blemish on his night.
In the official game summary, "R. Sherman" appears once, in the starting lineup. Other than that, there is no historical statistical record that he even played.
"It's weird," Sherman said. "It's very weird."
Not that he isn't getting used to it. He's been known to taunt quarterbacks with fake yawns or shout at the opposing bench to come at him. He did neither Monday, maybe a sign that maturity is catching up to his ability as the Seahawks began their march toward another Super Bowl.
He plays a violent game, yet came out of this one essentially untouched.
"I used to get pissed off when I was younger," Sherman said. "Now I just stay sound and make an impact somewhere … you just have to stay locked in. You can't be selfish. That's the biggest thing. You have a job to do, and you have to do it and let the chips fall where they may. But you can't lag on a play and cost your defense."
His impact is in the intimidation. Sherman believed the Packers expected him to follow Jordy Nelson, their best receiver, all over the field and were confused when he never moved.
"We don't mess with the integrity of our defense," Sherman said. "We do what works for us and make them move around us, and that's what we forced them to do tonight."
Seattle is more than comfortable having the action directed at right side cornerback Byron Maxwell, who finished with five tackles, a pass deflection and an interception.
"Soon enough, they'll figure it out that if you throw it to Max's side it'll get picked too," Wagner said with a cackle of confidence.
So Sherman just covered a man who was never getting the ball while the other 10 Seattle defenders got to collapse on the ball in squeezed space.
"I talked to Richard about it in the locker room," coach Pete Carroll said. "He was kind of disappointed that he wasn't able to help more. He helped us immensely … the fact the ball didn't go there is a big factor for us."
Green Bay gained just 255 yards and Rodgers completed just one pass for more than 20 yards.
"Everyone was swarming around the ball," linebacker Cliff Avril said.
"To know that a side of the field is shut down definitely makes our job much easier," Wagner agreed.
Meanwhile, the Green Bay locker room was still stunned at how a game they'd focused on for so long came apart so quickly.
"It was a hard defeat," coach Mike McCarthy said.
That's what comes from facing this ridiculous, relentless defense, anchored by a cornerback who is so good that his reputation takes receivers out of the play even before the snap. Then it's 10-on-10, with just two-thirds of the field to work with.
And that's even when it's Aaron Rodgers and the high-octane Packers across the way.
"If they don't throw it," Sherman said, "they don't throw it."
They didn't throw it. So Jarrett Boykin quietly got dressed. He played hard but nothing happened. No catches. No yards. No nothing, not even on the plays when he did enough to get free and, if nothing else, warrant some consideration.
"It's all good," Boykin said.
He was looking forward to grabbing a few minutes with some friends waiting outside before boarding a bus to the airport. So he zipped his bag and headed for the door.
Like Sherman, it had been a weird night.