SEATTLE — Tedric Thompson has a requisite skill for any defensive back: a short memory.
That’s why the Seattle Seahawks‘ free safety wasn’t interested in the redemption angle after making an acrobatic interception that had Twitter raving late in Thursday’s 30-29 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Nor did he think the play will provide a needed boost to his confidence.
“I mean, it gave me confidence,” he said, “but I had confidence before that interception.”
Coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have had much more confidence in Thompson than a vocal segment of the team’s fan base. It’s hard to recall a player from the Seahawks’ recent past with a wider gulf between his public approval rating and that of the team.
Thompson was a popular target of criticism heading into this season and again after Week 1, when he misplayed a deep throw from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, resulting in a 55-yard John Ross touchdown. It looked like Thompson would break up the pass — if not intercept it — before he mistimed his jump.
“I had a bad play, bro,” Thompson said Thursday night when a reporter asked him about the Ross TD. “Just like after I get done watching this film, I’m going to forget about it. … I don’t care what the media says. It doesn’t faze me.”
Beyond the Ross play, Thompson had a forgettable start to the season before Thursday. A hamstring injury sidelined him for two games, and he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in Week 3 — when he was inactive and ran onto the field to celebrate.
“You’ve gotta respond in this league,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “Bad stuff’s going to happen. You’re going to receive the criticism from a lot of people and as long as your teammates and coaches believe in you and you believe in yourself, you’re going to be good. … I’m glad he got that monkey off his back.”
Thompson, a fourth-round pick in 2017, arrived in Seattle with a reputation as a ball hawk after finishing tied for second in the country with seven interceptions and tied for fourth with 16 pass breakups during his final season at Colorado. There are stories from teammates of Thompson tormenting Seahawks quarterbacks — “I remember when he first came on the team he was catching two or three picks like almost a day in practice,” Tyler Lockett said — but that didn’t happen last season despite making 10 starts after Earl Thomas broke his leg.
“Who’s criticizing him? I’m not,” Carroll said. “He had a bad play a couple weeks ago. I think he’s doing fine. … He’s always shown us that he’s got that knack. It hasn’t shown up as much in the games.
“I just think it’s a matter of time. He’s a very cerebral player, and I think he’s going to feel more comfortable. It always helps confidence when you make a big play like [Thursday].”
Thompson’s interception — the second of his career — came right before the two-minute warning and was so unbelievable referees initially ruled it incomplete. But Thompson slid and twisted his body to make a bobbling catch of a tipped throw and somehow got his hands underneath the ball to keep it from touching the ground. The scene on the sideline after officials overturned the on-field ruling resembled a mosh pit as cornerback Shaquill Griffin and other teammates mobbed Thompson.
“It was crazy,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t even see who was in my face. Everybody was happy, pushing. First person I [saw] was Shaq. Shaq’s my boy, so Shaq was lit for me on the sideline. … It’s just a cool feeling, man. I’m even more happy that we won.”
It was a the perfect example of the playmaking the Seahawks have seen in him, even if outside observers haven’t.
“I felt like he just needed that,” Griffin said. “It was never to a point where he felt like he wasn’t that guy. I feel like tonight proved it.”