Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with free safety Earl Thomas #29 after making an interception against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 22, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
S EARL THOMAS
Q. I asked Richard Sherman this: Your selection through the USA Football All-Fundamental Team, how important are fundamentals and what kind of a message does that send to youth players that they are important?
EARL THOMAS: It just stresses the importance of the little things. You can take a lot from just making something so small to your technique and it turns into something big like a pick six. So you add those two together and it's tremendous.
Q. Sherman was talking about personality and letting players be themselves. How much does that rub off on the guys that if Richard wants to be dancing, he can do that, but you're more the zeroed in focused guy the way Pete Carroll carries the team?
EARL THOMAS: It's the old saying it's different strokes for different folks. He allows you to find yourself. He allows you to own your specific role. Everybody has different personalities, but it works. We love that about each other.
Sherm's so crazy and he's going to say what's on his mind. You love that about him and you appreciate it because you need some fire in some guys like that. It trickles down to the young guys.
Q. When did you start to develop that unspoken chemistry among your defensive secondary and you knew, okay, you go here? When did that start to happen?
EARL THOMAS: I really can't tell you. It just sort of happened. You didn't even realize it at first until you kind of sit back and watch film like, golly, we're tied on a string. Everybody's on their role, they're into it, and we're in sync. We're in a good place right now as a whole defense.
Q. How has the emotion in the locker room after the loss in San Francisco motivate you this week?
EARL THOMAS: It was tough. It was so long ago, it feels like, but it was tough. Anytime you lose you kind of go back like what could I have done different? And that is the great thing about the playoffs. You learn from that. This is our only shot. You can't say I should have done this better. That's why you take walk-throughs serious and practice serious and the classroom serious.
Q. What you see on film, is Colin Kaepernick different from the very first time you faced him or even the second time?
EARL THOMAS: He's not different. I think he's playing with more confidence now. But their offense is never going to get away from who they really are. We know they want to run the ball and play action off of that, so we're very prepared on all cylinders.
Q. What is kind of skill set is required to play in the Seahawks defensive secondary?
EARL THOMAS: I think you have to have a playmaker's mentality. You have to be able to catch. Obviously, Coach Carroll wants big guys, and I made him change his mind about me just because I bring so much to the game. But you have to have a certain confidence about yourself. Not cockiness, but confidence, and I think that's what we all bring to the table.
Q. How would you describe this rivalry with San Francisco? The games are intense, but going through it, how would you describe facing these guys?
EARL THOMAS: We're very similar. That's what makes it so great. It's going to be physical. For guys like us, we like it that way. It gives everybody who is watching a chance to see who we are, and what we're all about. As a competitor, you want this to be a close game, and you want it to be magnified so you can step up and make that play.
Q. How are you and Kam Chancellor similar and how are you different?
EARL THOMAS: I think we're more similar than different. I think what he brought to the team as far as wanting to be the enforcer or tackler, I saw that and said I've got to add that to my game. I think that particular trait about everybody as far as wanting to get better, wanting to be the best, wanting to be complete, we take stuff that we didn't have in our game first from Sherm [Richard Sherman], Kam [Chancellor], Brandon [Browner], Byron Maxwell, J-Lane [Jeremy Lane], that's what's going to take us over the top and separate. Because we're always searching and yearning to get better.
Q. What, if anyway, have you seen the San Francisco improve since of the last time they came to Seattle?
EARL THOMAS: It's hard when you play here. We never change who we are, and we don't even think that way. We're just excited for the opportunity to get to play. A lot of teams are at home, and we've heard the stories. So this is a great opportunity, enjoy it. You don't put too much stress on yourself. We just go out there and have fun.
Q. How different are the receivers you're going to play Sunday from the receivers you faced last week?
EARL THOMAS: It's a totally different offense and totally different scheme, two totally different quarterbacks. It's a different tempo. You can't get stuck on what Drew Brees was trying to do to you because it's totally different. It's more physical, downhill attack, and we definitely have to have our big boy pants on this week.
Q. You guys kind of bullied the Saints receivers around a little bit. These guys are a little bigger.
EARL THOMAS: I think we can bully whoever we want to bully. It's about us. It's about a mindset. When you have a mindset of you're not going to let anything get in your way, you're determined, nothing, you know. You just step over and keep going.
Q. You've had a chance to play Colin Kaepernick a few times in your career. What is the best way to beat him?
EARL THOMAS: I think me personally just be myself. The only time I felt not in control was the last time at Candlestick. I was looking at myself like you're supposed to be a leader and you look all off. You're not on your tempo, your rhythm is all off. So I took that as a positive, because I wasn't at my best, and you apply it to this game. You live and you learn.
Q. You've been flying around the field going back to your college days, how do you become a disciplined hitter and avoid the missteps and overruns and things like that, how do you develop that?
EARL THOMAS: Everything in my mind is about being the best to ever do it. Everything in my mind is separating myself from every defensive player in the league. So you look at all the things you have to do, and you have to be a great tackler. When you have to tackle somebody in this defense, that's why I like being the only guy back there because I'm tackling him and I can cover the same routes and deep posts and explosives, and you harness that. It's a harnessed kind of speed.
God gave me a lot of great ability. I was kind of overrunning stuff early on in my career. Now I harness everything even in walk‑throughs. On game day it's nothing. I'm not thinking. I'm just playing, and the ball is just coming. I love it.
Q. You're 60 minutes from the Super Bowl. How often do you think about that this week and how often before the game?
EARL THOMAS: I'm not thinking about it. I'm enjoying talking to you right now. This is great. This is a blessing. You always want to be there where everybody's watching you. This is a great experience because nobody would have been talking about the Seahawks four or five years ago. So when you come from the bottom to the top, it feels great. I started here and look where we're at now, and that feels good.
Q. After you guys beat New Orleans everyone in the locker room said whoever we play it doesn't matter. Now that it is San Francisco and two NFC West teams, two top dogs all year, does it feel right that you guys are playing for a Super Bowl?
EARL THOMAS: Yeah. When you're talking about competing in this league, you're always looking for whoever they think is the best and you want to knock them down. In this case some people might think San Francisco is better than us which I disagree.
I'm excited. This is a great opportunity for us. I think we have a great game plan. We had a great bonus Monday. Everybody's locked in, communication is great, so it just feels good, man.
Q. Some of the Carolina guys got kind of caught up in the talk after the whistle had blown. How do you not let yourselves get caught up in that? Do you even hear it or notice it?
EARL THOMAS: We know it's going to be a physical game. It's football. There is always stuff that can get in your way. You have to learn how to channel your energy in the right area. Even now when I first got out here I was nervous and stuttering, but I calmed down. Once you calm down and get in that rhythm, it's a wrap.
Q. Your style of play has been compared to Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu?
EARL THOMAS: Yeah, that's great.
Q. Some of the best safeties of the past 15 years. How gratifying is it to be compared to these guys and do you think it's a fair assessment?
EARL THOMAS: I feel it's fair because I'm very confident in myself. It's great to be even mentioned with those guys. It's humbling. But you always want to strive to be better. I watch both of their games and try to take what they're good at. Sometimes it's like, oh, he looks like Troy. Oh, he looks like Ed. No, he's unique and putting both of it together and making it into his own.
Q. How do you stay aggressive in the secondary and avoid collisions when you're going after the same interception – like when you and Richard Sherman collided in the end zone going for a pick?
EARL THOMAS: You can't think about it. I was griping at him (Richard Sherman), trust me. Hey, if that ball comes to the middle of the field, your job is cover three, I'm covering this middle. I don't need you coming over there hating on me. It's funny. Just keep it light. You can't control it. We're all out there flying to the ball.
Q. When it comes to approaching every week the same for this team, is that easier said than done when it comes to the NFC Championship? You have the trophy there and more media. Is it easier said than done to approach this week the same as all the other weeks?
EARL THOMAS: I think it's easier because there is so much into it. Like I said before, I love looking into these cameras. I was on the NFL Network the other day, and I like being on TV. So all this extra stuff, man, it's like the cherry on top. You got a little bonus, a little incentive.
Q. Of all the receivers you faced this year, where does Anquan Boldin rank?
EARL THOMAS: I like his game. I like him as a competitor. I like what he brings to their team. He's a hard‑nosed guy. I like that he's blue‑collar, and I'm ready for him. He's a great blocker. He tried to cut me a couple of times, so we'll meet each other again because I'm definitely going to find where he is. That's just who he is. He makes me want to play harder.
Q. What is Richard's biggest quality that we don't get to see behind the scenes?
EARL THOMAS: I think the brains. He's so smart. Everything he says he's doing it for a reason. When he's over here acting like a villain up here, he's doing it for a reason, and you love it. Because really and truly, he's the first person to get everybody to catch everybody's eyes about LOB (Legion of Boom), or Seattle, period, I believe. So he's done a great thing for us. He's put us where everybody's watching and wanting us to be the bad guys and wanting us to give up explosive plays and most of the time we prove them wrong.
Q. There's been a lot of talk from your opponents, including your upcoming opponent about the physical nature of your play in the secondary. Is that almost a badge of honor for you guys?
EARL THOMAS: Yeah, we love it. We love when a coach is on the sideline and, ‘Hey, look at him, he's holding.’ We love that because their energy is not in the right place. It's just a great feeling. Obviously, me in the middle of the field when our corners step kicking, I've got a great feel. Everything is nature. I feel like I trust it. So I have a great feel of their leverage. If they're locking somebody out, I don't even go that way, because I can just feel it.