JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Flailing arms. Balled fists. Furious forearms.
They’re all part of the playbook on “Turnover Thursday” for the Seattle Seahawks.
Richard Sherman and the defense do anything they can to knock the ball out of the hands of their counterparts on offense. Russell Wilson and the offense do all they can to keep it away.
“It’s intense,” Sherman said Thursday. “We go really hard at practice.”
It’s an approach that has worked well for Pete Carroll’s team this season, and one the Seahawks plan to continue in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Seattle’s stingy defense led the NFL with 39 takeaways, a fact the Broncos are well aware of.
“Our guys are going to have to be ready for that,” Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. “They know that we’re in for that physical type of battle. The hardest thing is when you do get that hit, you’ve got do everything you can to hold onto that ball and try to convert that play.”
The Seahawks were tops in the league with 28 interceptions and just 231 points allowed. They also gave up the fewest yards per game with 273.6, and had the best pass defense with 172 yards a game.
“It does work,” defensive end Red Bryant said of the Thursday practices. “It’s a reflection of our record. Coach Carroll from Day 1, his philosophy is all about the ball.
“He stresses to the offense to protect, and he stresses to the defensive to take the ball. On defensive in particular, we understand that every time that we take a snap, we’ve got an opportunity to affect the game by taking the ball, and we really believe in that.
“That’s part of the biggest reason we we’re able to win 15 games this year.”
As far as most players could recall, the defense has won all but one of the “Turnover Thursday” sessions this season. The competition is over as soon as the offense turns the ball over — just once.
So, a wayward throw by Wilson or backup Tarvaris Jackson, a mishandled handoff or a ball knocked out of the hands of a running back or receiver and the defense wins.
“That’s it, it’s a wrap,” backup running back Robert Turbin said. “It’s like scout team offense going up against the starting D. You know what I’m saying? It was like, ‘Ew.’ It’s kind of hard to keep the ball away from them.”
Wilson actually enjoys the practices on Thursdays to an extent, but refers to them in a different way.
“I call it ‘No-Turnover Thursdays,”’ Wilson said with a laugh. “The defense, they’re trying to find ways to get the football. They’ll do anything to try to poke the football out and, obviously, intercept the ball. It’s been a fun year, doing it. It’s an intense practice. Wednesdays and Thursdays truly feel like a game to us.”
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