SEATTLE -- As cornerback Richard Sherman came off the field Sunday in the third quarter of the Seattle Seahawks' win over the Atlanta Falcons, he chucked his helmet to the sideline and exploded on anyone who was nearby.
It appeared Sherman's outburst was first directed at defensive coordinator Kris Richard. Teammates Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner tried to calm him down, but they had little success. The Seahawks had just allowed Julio Jones to run free down the left sideline for a 36-yard touchdown, and Sherman was heated.
"It was just a miscommunication," Sherman said. "Kelcie [McCray] hasn't been in the defense that long. We tried to make a new adjustment, and it was just a miscommunication. Frustrating play.
"It's just the adjustment we make, the calls we make. ... Things didn't get communicated the correct way, and that's how it happens."
Sherman clarified that it was an audible within the play, a check the Seahawks were supposed to get to against a certain look. But McCray, filling in for an injured Chancellor, didn't get the message, and he let Jones run free.
Miscommunication happens on a weekly basis in the NFL, even with really good defenses. The Seahawks were up 17-10 at the time. What set Sherman off in this particular instance?
"Because it was something we discussed," Sherman said. "That's mostly what it was. ... It was a blown coverage, and we should never give them points when we could've stopped them and held them to nothing. They scored on blown coverages. The one [Mohamed] Sanu caught was a great play, but the other two were blown coverages."
Sherman later said McCray did a "great job," but his frustration was evident throughout the rest of the game.
When Sherman tipped a pass that ended up being intercepted by Earl Thomas in the fourth quarter, the cornerback barely reacted. After Matt Ryan's final fourth-down throw fell incomplete and Sherman noticed there was no flag, he made a subtle incomplete motion and then walked calmly to the sideline, showing no emotion, even though the game was over and the win had been secured.
Asked whether this was as angry as he's ever seen Sherman, Wagner said, "Pretty close. He's a very passionate guy, so I've seen him pretty mad."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll admitted that Sherman's emotion lingered throughout the second half.
"I think there was some impact," Carroll said. "Guys were upset. We had to get through it, and we did."
Added Sherman, "I was just chilling. It's frustrating to give up two bogus touchdowns."
The truth is winning solves a lot of problems and masks a lot of issues. After their 26-24 win, the Seahawks are 4-1 and in good shape in the NFC West. They shut down the Falcons' top-ranked offense in the first half but faltered in the third quarter, as Ryan completed 13 of 17 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns.
Had the Seahawks lost, there'd be a lot more attention paid to Sherman's outburst. Now the team will try to prove it was an isolated incident.
"These guys have been through too much together," Carroll said. "They care too much about one another. I'm not worried about it one bit. This is a bunch of guys, they are here to do the right thing, and they'll figure it out."
Given the number of veterans on the Seahawks, specifically on defense, Carroll's words hold weight. At one point, when the Seahawks were bouncing up and down on the sideline trying to get Sherman engaged, Thomas put his hands on his teammate's head, as if to remind him to stay focused and move on.
"We're very familiar with this," Thomas said. "We've got a lot of alpha males around with our team ... We do a great job. We have great leadership. It'll be alright."
When media were allowed in the locker room, Sherman was having an intense conversation with cornerback DeShawn Shead.
"It was just an extended conversation about everything that went on," Sherman said. "He was talking about some of the plays that happened with him and things that he has to work on throughout the game."
He later got hugs and handshakes from quarterback Russell Wilson and general manger John Schneider.
Asked how important it is for him to play on that emotional edge, Sherman said, "It's very important. It just shows how much you care."
Sherman has played at a high level through five games and has an established track record. He has earned the benefit of the doubt. But in the next month, the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots -- three teams with high-powered offenses. They'll need to avoid the mental mistakes that nearly cost them Sunday.
"We'll go over the film and make the adjustments," Sherman said. "And then we'll move on."