Sunday, January 12, 2014
Seahawks silence Graham, then rip him
By Mike Triplett
SEATTLE -- New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and the Seattle Seahawks got into a couple of shouting matches before Saturday's playoff game. But the Seahawks got the last word, holding Graham to one catch for eight yards in the final seconds of a 23-15 victory.
Afterward, Seahawks players offered some biting criticism of Graham. Defensive end Michael Bennett repeatedly referred to Graham as "overrated." And according to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, Bennett also called Graham soft.
Jimmy Graham, second from left, is pulled away from Seattle players before Saturday's game.
Both Bennett and cornerback Richard Sherman ripped Graham's inability to block -- which often led the Saints to take Graham off the field when they wanted to run the ball.
"If he doesn't get a chance to get the ball, that's all he can do," Bennett said. "He doesn't help in the blocking game. I think he's overrated, and I'm not afraid to say it on TV."
Graham led the NFL in touchdown receptions with 16 this season, while catching 86 passes for 1,215 yards. However, he was held to a total of four catches for 52 yards in the playoffs while both the Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles obviously made it a priority to kep him quiet. Graham faced several double teams and chip blocks in both games.
"I'm not sure if it was something that they did. Drew [Brees] is going to throw it to the open guy, and if you've got people on you, he's not going to throw you the ball," Graham said.
Graham was not asked about the Seahawks' postgame comments, but he was asked if he was frustrated by his lack of production Saturday.
"I like to do a lot more to help this team win, obviously," said Graham, who was targeted six times. "That's the type of player I am. I want to help put us in the right position. It's just the way it is. If this team wants me to go out there and catch 10 balls, I will, or block or whatever. I will do it for this team, because that's what I'm here for. Tonight wasn't one of those nights."
As for the pregame confrontations -- one of which included Graham ripping the hat off linebacker Bruce Irvin's head before being held back by team staff members -- Graham said, "He tried to disrespect me, and I'm not going to let anyone disrespect me. I don't want to talk about it."
Irvin explained that he told Graham to get out of the Seahawks' warm-up area, and Graham yelled back, "I'm Jimmy." Then Irvin said he responded, "Who's Jimmy?" and admitted to kicking Graham's ball out of the way.
Obviously it was a frustrating way for Graham's season to end. But make no mistake, he will be a huge priority for the Saints to re-sign this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, when he will certainly become the highest-paid tight end in NFL history, despite the Seahawks' criticism.
Graham was asked briefly about his pending free agency Saturday night.
"Well, I have to figure out what's going to happen. We'll see," Graham said. "Obviously this is a great city, a great team. I love Drew Brees. I told them I would like to retire with him. Hopefully it will happen."