RENTON, Wash. — The texts still haven’t stopped lighting up Kam Chancellor’s cellphone.
That Chancellor is getting this much attention shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s not every day a 6-foot-3, 232-pound strong safety hurdles an entire offensive line — twice.
“He’s such a unique guy for us,” Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “We wouldn’t have enough time to talk all the attributes that he brings to our defense.”
While teammate Russell Wilson received plenty of attention for throwing three touchdowns in last week’s playoff win over Carolina, no player was more impressive than Chancellor during Seattle’s 31-17 victory.
Chancellor was at his enforcer-like best, with 10 tackles. He intercepted a pass in his third straight playoff game and took this one back 90 yards for the first touchdown of his career.
But what stood out more than anything was his remarkable athleticism during a hurdling exhibition at the end of the first half. Chancellor twice leaped over the Carolina offensive line while attempting to block two field goal attempts.
Doing it two plays in a row, with perfect timing, was stunning to the Panthers but not Chancellor’s teammates.
“I’ve seen him jump over it at practice and he cleared it pretty easily,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “So I figured if everything went right he was going to clear it easily. And they didn’t change nothing up the next play, so he did it again. And he probably could have done it again because they still kept their head down. I would have kept jumping over them if they’re going to keep their head down.”
Leaping over linemen is just another example of Chancellor’s athleticism.
Once a pro-style quarterback in high school who was among the top recruits in the country, Chancellor realized defense was his chance at having a career once he saw the late Sean Taylor playing for Washington.
“I seen a big safety and another guy who capitalized on his size at that position, and I said, ‘Hold on, I think I can be this guy. Let me try to be this guy,’” Chancellor said. “That’s who I tried to emulate my game after.”
Where Chancellor stands out is using that athleticism as a tackler. Quinn calls it his “explosiveness.” Chancellor’s career is filled with big hits, but one of his most impressive collisions was with Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert. As Tolbert took a handoff up the middle, Chancellor came from the secondary and knocked the 245-pound fullback off his feet short of the first down.
“You saw the impact that he can have. A few players. A few players have that obvious impact of the physical nature that when they demonstrate it, it picks everybody up and lifts them up,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Chancellor’s standout performance against Carolina was the culmination of a process that started in November when he sat out two games as a number of injuries piled up. Chancellor’s issues started in Week 2 and by the time midseason rolled around, he was beaten down and needed time to let his body heal.
“It just wasn’t my time to feel like I feel now,” Chancellor said.
Coincidentally, Chancellor’s best game of the season came on the night former Seahawks strong safety Kenny Easley was in attendance raising Seattle’s “12th Man Flag” before the kickoff. Easley was a three-time All-Pro and the NFL defensive player of the year in 1984 for Seattle.
Chancellor once dated Easley’s daughter, and has gone back in the archives to watch film of the former Seattle enforcer.
“I can see a lot of similarity, a lot of physicality, just going out there dominating, and you can’t do nothing but look up to a guy like that,” Chancellor said.