SEATTLE -- For the most part this season, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been reserved and measured.
He has spoken respectfully about opponents and expressed calm even when it looked like the Seattle Seahawks were going in the wrong direction.
Sherman has played a different role in 2015. He has been asked to shadow No. 1 receivers more than ever before. Instead of staying on the left side, Sherman has traveled with players such as Cincinnati's A.J. Green, Dallas' Dez Bryant and San Francisco's Torrey Smith. Against the Steelers, for most of the game, he played on whichever side Antonio Brown lined up on, whether the Seahawks were in man or zone.
By my count, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 3-for-10 for 24 yards and an interception when throwing to Brown against Sherman. On all other throws, he was 33-for-45 for 432 yards, a touchdown and a pick.
In the days leading up to the Steelers game, Sherman was asked about possibly shadowing Brown. Some questioned whether he'd be able to keep up with a smaller, shiftier receiver. After Sunday's win, Sherman responded to critics, via Stephen Cohen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"I don't guard small receivers well," Sherman deadpanned to reporters from the victorious locker room. "So I don't know what I did. That's not what I do well, so I'm not very good at guarding small receivers. It's my biggest weakness, so I just went out there. ... Obviously he just dropped a bunch of balls.
"You hear idiots say a lot of stuff. People can't play. They don't play the game. They don't have talent. So they can sit there and say everything from a couch, from an armchair. But we all know what's good. We all know what it is as players. There's tremendous respect amongst the guys on the field. Their team had a great respect for me, and we had great respect for their receiving corps, and it's back and forth.
"You see people who've never played the game, who've never coached the game, who've never stepped foot on the field talk about how you're not good against smaller receivers. You can't call that. You don't have enough knowledge. You don't have enough intimate details. You don't even know the game. You have very low football IQ. So it's tough to take those people serious, but we went out there and executed today."
The Seahawks have shaken up their secondary, benching cornerback Cary Williams (started the first 10 games) in favor of DeShawn Shead. After the game, coach Pete Carroll complimented Shead, indicating that he'll start going forward. Williams, meanwhile, was inactive.
Sherman has provided the coaches with flexibility and played at a high level, coming up big every time he has been matched up against a top receiver. Now the Seahawks have to make sure the other pieces fit better in the final five games.