Seahawks' top play winner: Beast Quake

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
10:00
AM ET
Marshawn LynchOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Score: Seahawks 41, Saints 36
Date: Jan. 8, 2011. Site: CenturyLink Field

It wasn't an easy choice, especially considering the significance of the top two plays, but we have a winner.

By almost a 2-to-1 margin, the voters picked the Beast Quake 67-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch in the 2011 playoff game against New Orleans over the Immaculate Deflection, cornerback Richard Sherman's game-saving tip in the NFC Championship Game this past season.

Both plays will be remembered forever by Seahawks fans, but I beg to differ with the voters. For me, Sherman's defensive gem is the signature, memorable play in franchise history.

Lynch's run, which literally caused a seismic reaction, was a rumble for the ages. But it cannot compare in national significance to Sherman's moment, on and off the field.

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That play changed the fate of the Seahawks and sent them to a Super Bowl they would easily win. And it also changed Sherman's life and led to an important national conversation about stereotypes and racism.

First, the play: It was near the end of the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

With Seattle leading 23-17, San Francisco was driving toward a possible game-winning score and had a first-and-10 at the Seattle 18 with 30 seconds to play. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick lofted a fade intended for receiver Michael Crabtree into the right corner of the end zone.

Sherman leaped and used his long arms to tip the ball away and right into the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith for the interception. It saved the game but was only the start of the story.

Sherman was flagged for taunting, when he ran over to Crabtree as the receiver was leaving the field. Sherman said he went over to tell Crabtree good game, but the receiver shoved his hand into Sherman's face mask and walked off.

Moments after the game ended, Sherman was interviewed on the field by Fox reporter Erin Andrews.

"I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman screamed. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me."

When Andrews asked him who he was talking about, he replied: "Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best, or I'll shut it for you real quick. L.O.B. [Legion of Boom]."

Those comments in the heat of the moment, directed at a player who had publicly ridiculed Sherman, led to a Twitter explosion of people calling Sherman a thug, a gangster and much worse.

But Sherman reversed the narrative with an informative column and a speech to the media a few days later, in which he effectively argued such comments reflected racism and ignorance.

It gained Sherman national respect he couldn't have imagined -- Time Magazine's top 100 list of the world's most influential people, an invitation to speak at Harvard and a spot at the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner, to name only a few.

It was a great play that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, but it also was a moment that brought about an important national conversation and transformed a man's life.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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