If not for the New England Patriots “Deflate Gate,” the health of the Seattle Seahawks top two defensive backs might be the biggest story heading into Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1.
While they are expected to play in the Super Bowl, both Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas sustained serious injuries during their unfathomable 28-22 overtime victory over Green Bay in the NFC title game Sunday, and if the biggest game of the year wasn’t upon them they’d likely both be out.
Yet both continued to play against the Packers even at the risk of further injury. Sherman went down in the fourth quarter after colliding with teammate Kam Chancellor, and Thomas was hurt in the first half and played on with a harness.
Sherman told ESPN he suffered a sprained elbow against the Packers, and Thomas endured a separated shoulder. Each injury was revealed in MRI tests taken Monday.
Following the team’s second straight NFC title victory, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll refused to go into details about Sherman and Thomas’s injuries, and chose to praise them for their work ethic and determination.
"I'm not going there," Carroll said to USA Today."It's worth mentioning again the effort that those guys put out. OK, we don't even know what happened to them yet. We don't know the results of the injury. Both those guys were in dire straits for, could they play? And they didn't flinch. Not for a second."
The Seahawks powerful defense, dubbed the “Legion of Boom,” is the one of the main reasons the team is line to capture a second straight Super Bowl; a feat no other team has accomplished since their New England foes in 2004.
The Seahawks led the NFL in points and yards allowed together for the second straight year, with Sherman leading the team with four interceptions and Thomas third with 97 total tackles. During the postseason, Sherman racked up two more picks in the NFC Divisional and Conference rounds.
Neither Seattle nor New England have to release an injury report until next week, but the Seahawks could have some depth issues behind Thomas.
After starting the entire regular season, rookie offensive tackle Justin Britt sat out against the Packers but is expected to return for the Super Bowl.
But the status of second-string safety Jeron Johnson complicates things for the Seahawks. Johnson sat out the first two rounds of the postseason with an elbow injury, and if Thomas is less than 100 percent more of the work load would fall to Chancellor without Johnson behind him.