Sherman: Crabtree 'mediocre' WR

SEATTLE -- The NFC Championship Game was decided when Richard Sherman made the play of the game. Then he followed it up with the quote of the day.

Sherman deflected a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone. The ball was intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith with 22 seconds remaining to seal the Seahawks' 23-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers.

After the game, Sherman, known for his bold statements, took a shot at Crabtree.

"I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman said on the field immediately after the game. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you going to get."

Crabtree appeared irritated when told of Sherman's comments.

"He's a TV guy. I'm not a TV guy," Crabtree said. "He didn't make any other plays in the game. ... But he made a good play there. He can keep talking. ...

"You make one play and you talk? Good play."

Crabtree was less diplomatic when he took to Twitter later Sunday night.

Sherman finished the game with two tackles and one pass defensed -- the game-changing deflection.

He also took to Twitter after the game, though Sherman didn't respond directly to Crabtree's tweet.

Kaepernick said he felt good about the play. He said he would take Crabtree one-on-one "against anyone."

In his postgame news conference, Sherman had more to say about Crabtree.

"He wouldn't make the top 20 of NFL receivers," Sherman said. "If any team had a chance to pick Crabtree, they wouldn't draft him."

Sherman conducted an ESPN Radio interview Monday on the "SVP and Russillo" show, addressing his postgame comments.

"Obviously I could have worded things better and could obviously have had a better reaction and done things differently," he said during the interview. "But it is what it is now, and people's reactions are what they are."

Sherman was rarely targeted by San Francisco, with most of the throws going toward Sherman's teammate Byron Maxwell. But when Kaepernick had to make a throw in the final seconds, he decided to challenge the All-Pro.

Sherman stayed with Crabtree, leaped and batted the ball into the air with his left hand. That allowed Smith to run underneath and make the interception that clinched the victory. It was San Francisco's third turnover in the fourth quarter.

"I knew if I tipped it high enough, someone would get there," Sherman said.

After the interception, Sherman ran over to Crabtree and gave him a pat on the backside then appeared to extend his arm for a handshake. Instead, Sherman got shoved in the face before picking up a personal foul as his celebration continued.

"I was making sure everyone knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver," Sherman said. "And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that's what happens. I appreciate that he knows that now. There has been a lot of talk from him running his mouth about me."

Sherman said he was surprised Kaepernick challenged him at the end.

"Everybody in the stadium was surprised," Sherman said. "You throw that? It's insane. I'm thankful they keep doing it. I should have picked it, but there was some offensive interference [on Crabtree] and I knew it wouldn't be called."

"I know how passionate he is about the game of football. He said to me before the game it's going to come down to us making big plays. We've got to do it. Somehow we've got to find a way to make big plays," said teammate Doug Baldwin. "[Sherman] has been doing it all season. He is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. They were trying to stay away from him the whole game. Eventually they were going to have to go his way, and eventually they did and they made a mistake."

Sherman attempted to explain his mindset and provide context for his postgame tirade in a column posted Monday morning on mmqb.com. Sherman also responded to widespread criticism, some of which he alleged was racist in nature, that he has received since the game.

"To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field -- don't judge a person's character by what they do between the lines," Sherman wrote in the column posted on mmqb.com. "Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.

"But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you'll see from me. It's sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is. I can handle it."

Sherman also took to Twitter on Monday to reply to some racially fueled backlash.

Sherman said his issues with Crabtree go back to something that happened during the offseason. He would not go into detail about what happened.

"He said something personal face-to-face," Sherman said. "He knows what he said, and he knows I'm going to be tough on him the rest of his career."

Sherman's brother told the Seattle Times that the Sherman-Crabtree feud began last summer, when both players attended a charity event hosted by Arizona Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Crabtree tried to start a fight with Sherman after the star cornerback attempted to shake hands with the receiver, Sherman's brother told the Times.

Sherman acknowledged in his mmqb.com column that Crabtree said something to him in Arizona this past offseason.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was the target of controversial postgame comments by Sherman last season, did not seem surprised by Sherman's rants Sunday.

"I don't know him at all. I've watched him play and he's that kind of guy," Brady said Monday in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. "I approach the game and I have respect for my opponent. That's the way our team always plays and we win with graciousness.

"When we lose, we can do better. Some teams don't always do that, that's not their program. The only way to counter that is to beat them. When you don't win, you've got to shut your mouth and listen to it. Someday when you get an opportunity down the road, maybe that's a source of motivation."

Sherman, 25, led the league with eight interceptions this season. The two-time Pro Bowler has 20 career interceptions in three seasons, all with Seattle.

Information from ESPN.com Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson was used in this report.