A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 13.
The Seattle Seahawks needed someone to put them over the top following a lackluster start against previously 1-10 Carolina.
Lofa Tatupu was that someone.
The Seahawks' middle linebacker picked off Jimmy Clausen's pass intended for fullback Tony Fiammetta and returned the interception 26 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Seattle never trailed again, cruising to a 31-14 victory that kept the Seahawks tied for the NFC West lead.
"I was fortunate enough to be the man with man coverage on the fullback at the time," Tatupu told reporters after the game. "It was kind of like a pick-route, which usually allows the fullback to get over out into the flat, usually by himself or with a man trailing. I just got over clean enough where I said, 'If the quarterback throws this ball and I turn around, I’m going. And I'm just going to take my shot.' And so I did."
Playing hurt and behind a depleted defensive line, Tatupu hasn't played to his three-time Pro Bowl form this season. He almost appeared to jog into the end zone on his interception return, but that might not have been intentional. Tatupu is that beat up. He finished the game Sunday with only two tackles.
But when the Seahawks needed him to make a difference, Tatupu delivered.
"That’s just a classic for him to make, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy," coach Pete Carroll said. "It was a big statement."