Richard Sherman's big tip gets his motor running

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) hits the

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) hits the ball away from San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) and is intercepted by Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) during the NFC Championship Game. (Jan. 19, 2014) (Credit: AP)

SEATTLE - It was a mostly quiet game for Richard Sherman, but in true CenturyLink Field fashion, he cranked up the volume at the end.

The outspoken Seattle cornerback broke up the last-gasp pass intended for the 49ers' Michael Crabtree and tipped it to Malcolm Smith for an interception with 22 seconds left in the Seahawks' 23-17 win in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

After the play, Sherman was flagged for taunting when he got in Crabtree's face and gave quarterback Colin Kaepernick the choke sign.

"When you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that's what happens," Sherman said. "Game."

If the Sherman-Crabtree rivalry seems personal, that's because it is. Sherman said Crabtree made "face-to-face" comments to Sherman during the offseason that have stuck with him.

"He knows what he said and he's going to pay for it for the rest of his career," Sherman said.

Crabtree, who had four receptions for 52 yards, seemed steadfast in his belief that he got the better of Sherman despite the result.

"I ain't getting into that," he said. "He knows what time it is. When we're on the field, he isn't doing nothing. That's one play. He knows."

Sherman didn't have many opportunities. The 49ers threw at him only one other time in the game and he was called for defensive holding on the play.

Sherman said there were times last year when he would get bored if teams took him out of the game plan. He'd start to let his mind wander or get "nosy" and try to do other people's jobs.

He said he made it a point to stay focused this season. So when the 49ers came at him at the end, he was ready.

"I really appreciate that, Kap," Sherman said at the postgame news conference to Kaepernick. "If our team knew the game was going to come down to a play like that, I'm sure they'd be pretty confident . . . I think everybody in the stadium was surprised [he threw it]. You throw that, it's a mistake."

Sherman now gets to not only play on the biggest stage of his career in Super Bowl XLVIII but speak his mind on it. He said he plans to hold nothing back when the Seahawks reach the New York area next week.

There was, however, one moment when Sherman seemed humbled by the opportunity to compete for a championship.

"I'm speechless," he said before pausing for the irony to sink in -- about the only breath he took during his news conference. "This is me speechless."

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