The chirping between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree did not cease with Sherman's WWE-style postgame interview. The back-and-forth continued into the locker room and even on to Twitter. But one question remains: What did Crabtree say to Sherman that got him so fired up?
Last week, Crabtree was asked if he believed Sherman was the best cornerback in the game. "I don't think so," Crabtree said. But that couldn't have been enough to set Sherman off, and indeed Sherman clarified a bit once he settled down. It was something said during the offseason, and not publicly:
"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."
The box score doesn't show it—two tackles and one pass defended (the tip that led to the clinching interception)—but Sherman was tough on Crabtree all night. Crabtree had four catches on eight targets, with most of his success coming when Sherman wasn't opposite him.
In retrospect, you could see that final interception coming. Colin Kaepernick was making a dangerous habit of throwing directly over defenders, often succeeding by inches, but cutting it too fine on both of his INTs. The QB said afterward that he'd target Crabtree in the end zone again, even with Sherman on him. "I'd take [Crabtree] one-on-one against anyone," Kaepernick said.
It was just the opportunity Sherman was waiting for. Still in boast mode, Sherman said. "You throw that? It's insane... I should have picked it, but there was some offensive interference and I knew it wouldn't be called."
But this was, if not a designed play, at least an anticipated one. At the 6:50 mark of this video, Sherman notes that the Seahawks "talk about this all the time"—he specifically tells other defenders not to go for the hit when he's one-on-one, but to look for Sherman to tip the ball right to them for an interception. That's exactly what happened last night, with linebacker Malcolm Smith the recipient.
After briefly celebrating with his teammates, Sherman sprinted down the dejected Crabtree, patted him on the backside, and said something to him. What?
"I told him, 'Good game and good try, but I'm the best corner in the game.'"
That earned Sherman a shove, and his retaliation cost him 10 yards for taunting, but bragging rights are his, at least until next season.
The fun continued. Crabtree was told about Sherman's comments, and responded dismissively.
"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."
Sherman wasn't done. His own postgame availability was less about his own prowess as a DB and more about Crabtree's shortcomings.
"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."
More! Crabtree took to Twitter to challenge Sherman's claims of being the best. (The game tape will show that the 49ers went after Byron Maxwell whenever they could.)
— Michael Crabtree (@KingCrab15) January 20, 2014
Sherman couldn't help but respond—he's hardwired for it.
A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) January 20, 2014
I'd say that's the last word, but Sherman didn't even need one. He's going to the Super Bowl, and, presumably, scanning the internet for anything Demaryius Thomas has ever said about him.