Legion of Boom (Seattle Seahawks)
The Legion of Boom is a term for the secondary (safeties and cornerbacks) of the Seattle Seahawks since 2011. The current starting players are cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Cary Williams as well as safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. The defensive backs quickly earned a reputation for consistently leading the NFL in numerous defensive categories. The crowning achievement of the group is their team's victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Before the 2011 season, the Seahawks drafted cornerback Richard Sherman in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft and signed cornerback Brandon Browner as a free agent from the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL), adding to 2010 draftees free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor. They first met during the 2011 NFL lockout at a basketball game against Jamal Crawford, and played good team defense together from the start. After an injury to Marcus Trufant, Sherman earned his first career start on October 30, 2011 against the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the first time the four original members started a game together. The high level play of the group over the rest of the 2011 season would inspire the nickname. Brandon Browner would leave the Seattle Seahawks and move to the New England Patriots in the 2014 season.
The origin of the term "Legion of Boom" is claimed to have been coined on 710 ESPN Seattle's Bob and Groz show on August 2, 2012, when Chancellor appeared on the show, noting the way the secondary "brings the boom". It is also a play on the Legion of Doom supervillain group from DC Comics. A discussion regarding a nickname for the secondary arose, and the term "Legion of Boom" became widespread on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, Google searches for the term skyrocketed. The term became commonly used in the media by sources like NFL.com and ESPN commentator Jon Gruden. Nike currently offers "Legion of Boom" branded apparel as the group grows in popularity. An ESPN feature found the "Legion of Boom" comparable to nicknamed great defenses such as the Monsters of the Midway, Big Blue Wrecking Crew, and the Doomsday Defense.
The unit's aggressive nature is notable in an era where the NFL has laid particular emphasis on player safety. However, Seahawks secondary coach Kris Richard emphasizes the importance of making his unit one that hits hard within the rules. The receivers run routes with shields strapped to their chests that run from neck to mid-thigh, and the defensive backs are taught to keep their hits within that area in order to limit penalties for blows to the head. Bleacher Report describes the Legion of Boom as a monument both to Richard and head coach Pete Carroll, who was a safety himself in his playing days and a defensive backs coach in his early coaching career. Carroll also studied taller cornerback tandems like Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes when assembling the core of defensive backs.
- Richard Sherman, at 6'3", 195 lbs, is the most vocal member of the group and attained national attention after the 2014 NFC Championship Game when he made a game saving pass deflection that was intercepted. After the game he conducted a highly emotional interview with FOX Sports' Erin Andrews. This "rant" has become a pop culture reference[examples needed], as even U.S. President Barack Obama mimicked it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Beyond Sherman's vocal personality, he is generally considered to be one of the best corners in football and was briefly the highest paid corner in football when he received his new contract from the Seahawks in 2014.
- Kam Chancellor, at 6'3", 232 pounds, is the tallest and heaviest safety in the NFL and is known for his hard-hitting tackles. He was taken with the 133rd overall pick in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
- Earl Thomas is the shortest member of the Legion of Boom at 5'10". He was described by Sports Illustrated as "a great cover safety from anywhere to anywhere on the field, able to take ridiculous angles and read plays with microscopic precision". He was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
- Byron Maxwell is a 6'1" corner from Clemson University drafted in the sixth round with the 173nd pick by the Seahawks. He became a starting cornerback after Brandon Browner was suspended and left the team during free agency in 2014. In 2015 he left the team in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Brandon Browner was an original member of the Legion of Boom when he signed with the Seahawks in 2011 after playing Canadian football in the CFL for the previous three years. He is 6'4", 221 pounds. He left the Seahawks to sign with the New England Patriots as a free agent in 2014, then the following year in 2015 he signed with the New Orleans Saints.
- The other defensive backs on the Seahawks roster are also considered members of the Legion of Boom. The backups during their Super Bowl-winning year were: Jeron Johnson, Akeem Auguste, Chandler Fenner, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Walter Thurmond III, and Tharold Simon.
Particularly following the suspensions of Brandon Browner in 2012 (four games) and 2013 (suspended indefinitely, but reinstated March 4, 2014), as well of that of Sherman (which he successfully appealed in December 2012), the term "Legion of Boom" has encompassed more than just the four original starters.
At the Super Bowl parade in Seattle, Sherman called the Legion of Boom, "more than the secondary, it's the linebackers, the defensive line, the entire defense."
Following the 2011 season, Thomas, Chancellor, and Browner were named to the 2012 Pro Bowl. Thomas also earned AP All-Pro honors. Browner tied for fourth in the NFL with six interceptions. In every year thereafter, at least three members of the "Legion of Boom" have been named either AP All-Pro or voted to the Pro Bowl.
After the 2012 season, both Sherman and Thomas were named AP All-Pro. Sherman finished second in the league with eight interceptions. Additionally, the team defense finished first in points allowed, and second in passing touchdowns allowed.
The Legion of Boom had a banner year in 2013. In the regular season, they allowed the fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns in the league while anchoring the league's best passing defense as well as overall defense. Sherman finished first in the league with eight interceptions. Seattle finished the season with the most interceptions in the NFL. Sherman and Thomas were named first-team AP All-Pro, while Chancellor was named to the second team. Sherman, Chancellor, and Thomas were also named to the 2014 Pro Bowl, but did not play due to the Seahawks playing in Super Bowl XLVIII. In their rout of the Denver Broncos, they held Peyton Manning and the record-setting Broncos offense to only eight points, intercepting Manning twice, forcing two fumbles, and playing a major part in securing the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
Following the 2014 season, Thomas, Chancellor, and Sherman were selected to the 2015 Pro Bowl, marking the second year in a row in which all three were named to the Pro Bowl together. Thomas and Sherman were again named first-team AP All-Pro, while Chancellor was named second team.
The inaugural year of the Legion of Boom saw the Seahawks finish 7th in points allowed and 9th in yards allowed, as well as 11th in passing yards allowed and 4th in interceptions.
They started the season in San Francisco and allowed 209 yards of total offense, though the 49ers got two late kick return touchdowns to win 33-17.
In week 5, though surrendering 464 yards and 25 points to the New York Giants, the Seahawks forced 5 turnovers and won the game, 36-25. Brandon Browner sealed the victory with an interception returned 94 yards for a touchdown, and Kam Chancellor ended it with an interception minutes later. Earl Thomas intercepted a pass in the game as well, and Walter Thurmond forced a fumble. Thomas and Chancellor also each recovered a fumble.
In week 7, the Seahawks held the Cleveland Browns to 6 points and 300 yards of offense, though the offense had 3 points in the loss.
In week 11, the Seahawks beat the St. Louis Rams, 24–7, the defense allowing 185 yards of offense.
In week 15, playing the Chicago Bears, the Seahawks defense again forced 5 turnovers, allowing 14 points and 221 yards. Browner returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown, and Kam Chancellor forced a fumble. Richard Sherman and Thomas added interceptions of their own. Seattle won, 38–14.
By season's end, the Seahawks defense had allowed two 300-yard passers all season, Eli Manning in week 5 and Rex Grossman in week 12. They allowed 18 touchdown passes to 22 interceptions. In eight of their 16 games they held the opposing quarterback below 200 yards passing.
The first of three seasons in a row where the Seahawks would allow the fewest points in the league. They were 4th in yards allowed, 6th in passing yards allowed, and 8th in interceptions. They would open the season with 5 straight games allowing fewer than 300 yards of offense, including a week 5 game against the Carolina Panthers allowing just 190 yards and 10 points, with Sherman and Browner both forcing fumbles in the 16-12 victory. The next week, although the Seahawks allowed 475 yards and 23 points to the New England Patriots, the Legion of Boom would garner some nationwide attention with Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas each intercepting a pass and ultimately holding on for a 24-23 victory.
In week 10 against the New York Jets, the Seahawks allowed just 185 yards and 0 points on defense, Sherman recording an interception, a sack, and a forced fumble, Chancellor recovering a fumble. The Seahawks would win 28-7.
They would do even better in week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals, giving up 154 yards, 0 points, and forcing 8 turnovers. Sherman starred in picking off two passes and taking one back 19 yards for a touchdown, also jumping on a fumble. Byron Maxwell would force and recover a fumble. Backup safety Jeron Johnson recorded a sack and forced a fumble. The Seahawks would win 58-0.
Two weeks later against the San Francisco 49ers, the defense surrendered 313 yards and 13 points in a 42-13 victory. Chancellor forced and recovered a fumble, and Sherman would record an interception in the endzone and return a blocked field goal for a touchdown.
In the wild card round of the playoffs, the Seahawks traveled to play the Washington Redskins, and would allow two early touchdowns, then not allow another point for the rest of the game. Ultimately, they would surrender 203 yards of offense, Earl Thomas recording an interception in the 24-14 win.
The Seahawks defense again allowed only two opposing quarterbacks to throw for over 300-yards in a game, Tom Brady in week 6 and Matthew Stafford in week 8. The 15 touchdown passes allowed were 2nd fewest in the league, compared to 18 interceptions. 6 times they would hold an opposing quarterback to less than 200 yards passing, 7 including the wild card playoff game against Robert Griffin III.
The Seahawks finished #1 in fewest points and yards allowed, additionally leading the league in fewest passing yards allowed and most interceptions.
In Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, the Seahawks allowed 253 yards and 7 points, Earl Thomas and Byron Maxwell each forcing a fumble, and backup defensive back Chris Maragos recovering one of those fumbles. Seattle would win 12-7.
Week 2 brought the San Francisco 49ers on a Sunday Night Football game. Seattle allowed 207 yards and 3 points, forcing 5 turnovers. Chancellor, Sherman and Thomas all got interceptions, Maxwell adding a fumble recovery in the 29-3 win.
Week 3 saw the Jacksonville Jaguars rack up 265 yards and 17 points, though Seattle would take a 31-0 lead to start the game and play backups for a significant portion of the second half. Chancellor would intercept a pass in the 45-17 win.
In week 4, the Houston Texans broke through for 476 yards against the Seattle defense, but could only score 20 points, and the Legion of Boom was able to flip the game. With less than three minutes left in the 4th quarter, trailing 20-13, Richard Sherman returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown. The Seahawks would later win in overtime 23-20. Thomas also had an interception and forced a fumble earlier in the game.
In week 6, Sherman and Thomas again each had an interception and Chris Maragos recovered a fumble, the defense allowing 6 points and 223 yards in the 20-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
In week 8, the Seahawks visited the St. Louis Rams, and the Seahawks defense gave up just 9 points and 339 yards, coming up with a last-second goal line stand to seal the victory 14-9. Sherman intercepted a pass and returned it 38 yards to set up a touchdown, and Walter Thurmond recorded a sack.
In a week 10 revenge game against the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle allowed 10 point and 226 yards in a 33-10 win. Thurmond would force and recover a fumble in the win.
Week 11 brought the Minnesota Vikings to Seattle, who managed 336 yards and 20 points, but turned it over 4 times. Thurmond returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown in the 41-20 win.
In week 13, in a Monday Night Football game against the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks faced off against the eventual #2 ranked passing attack in the league. They held the Saints to 188 yards in a 34-7 blowout.
In week 15, the Seahawks shut the New York Giants out, winning 23-0. It was one of the best games of the season for the Legion of Boom, the Giants managing just 181 yards of offense and turning it over 5 times. Byron Maxwell had two interceptions, as did Richard Sherman. Sherman also tipped a pass to Earl Thomas for an interception. Sherman also recovered a fumble.
The next week, Seattle kept the Arizona Cardinals to 168 total yards and 17 points, forcing 4 turnovers. Sherman had two more interceptions and Chancellor added another. However, the Seahawks would fall 17-10, a late 31-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to Michael Floyd being the difference.
They would close the regular season strong, beating the St. Louis Rams 27-9 and allowing 158 total yards. Byron Maxwell would add an interception and the Rams would not score a touchdown until 4:18 remained in the game, with the game already decided.
In the divisional round, a rematch with the New Orleans Saints, the Saints did not score until early in the 4th quarter, although a late flurry allowed them to get to 15 points and 409 offensive yards. Of note was the Seahawks holding tight end Jimmy Graham to 1 catch for 8 yards. The Seahawks would win 23-15.
For the third time that season the Seahawks played the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners scored 17 points and gained 308 total yards, but Seattle survived 23-17 after forcing turnovers on all three of the 49ers 4th quarter possessions. Kam Chancellor picked off a pass to set up a field goal, and Richard Sherman would tip a pass to Malcolm Smith to clinch the game with less than 30 seconds left. This play and the immediate aftermath became infamous, for a brief shoving match between Sherman and 49ers Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree, Sherman's choke sign at QB Colin Kaepernick that he was later fined for, and his post-game rant in an interview with Erin Andrews.
The Seahawks saved their best for last with their performance in Super Bowl XLVIII, holding the Denver Broncos record-breaking offense to 306 yards and 8 points, forcing 4 turnovers and not allowing a score until the final play of the 3rd quarter. Kam Chancellor intercepted one pass and Byron Maxwell forced a fumble.
The 2013 Seahawks allowed just 1 300-yard passer, Matt Schaub in week 5, allowing a second in the divisional round against Drew Brees. 11 times in the regular season they held an opposing quarterback to less than 200 yards passing, then did it once more in the NFC Championship game. Their 28 team interceptions were most in the league, and 16 passing touchdowns allowed second fewest.
The Seahawks again allowed the fewest points in the NFL, the first NFL defense to accomplish this three seasons in a row since the 1969–1971 Minnesota Vikings. They also allowed the fewest yards, becoming the first defense since the 1985–1986 Chicago Bears to allow the fewest points and yards two seasons in a row. They allowed the fewest passing yards and passing touchdowns, though they ranked 20th in interceptions.
In week 1, the Green Bay Packers scored 16 points and gained 255 yards in a 36–16 victory by the Seahawks. Byron Maxwell, now the full-time starter at left corner with Brandon Browner's departure, intercepted a pass in the game.
In week 3, a rematch against the Denver Broncos, Seattle allowed 332 yards and 20 points, eventually winning 26–20 in overtime. Kam Chancellor forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.
In week 8, another trip to play the Carolina Panthers saw the Seattle defense allow 9 points and 266 yards, just enough for the 13–9 win. Marcus Burley, a 5th corner forced into action due to injuries, was the key member of the Legion on the day with an interception and 24-yard return.
In week 9, the visiting Oakland Raiders scored 17 points on offense with 226 yards of total offense. Sherman intercepted his first pass of the season and also forced a fumble.
In week 12, with the season on the line, the Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals 19–3. Allowing 3 points and 204 yards, the game featured a Byron Maxwell interception and Jeremy Lane forced fumble. This game began a six-game hot-streak for the Seahawks, particularly on defense, which would give up an average of 6.5 points for the remainder of the year and allow fewer than 250 total yards in all six games.
In week 13, they allowed 3 points and 164 total yards in another 19–3 victory, this against the San Francisco 49ers. Sherman had two interceptions.
In week 14, against a Philadelphia Eagles offense that would eventually rank third in the league in points and fifth in yards, the Seahawks gave up 139 yards and 14 points. Tharold Simon picked off his first pass of the season and Earl Thomas recovered a fumble. The Seahawks won, 24–14.
In another tilt against the 49ers in week 15, San Francisco had 245 yards and 7 points in the 17–7 loss.
In a game that would likely decide the NFC West division, the Seahawks traveled to play the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks won 35–6, holding Arizona to 216 yards and the 6 points. Sherman grabbed the only turnover of the game, intercepting a pass and returning it 53 yards.
To close out their run, the Seahawks beat the St. Louis Rams 20–6, giving up 245 yards. The game was sealed on an Earl Thomas forced fumble at the goal line.
Seattle surrendered 362 yards in the divisional round game against the Carolina Panthers, as well as 17 points. Kam Chancellor had the game-sealing interception and took it back 90 yards for a touchdown. He also twice leaped over the center on field goal tries in order to block the field goal, although he missed the ball both times and both plays were whistled dead by a penalty. Richard Sherman recorded an interception as well, and Earl Thomas forced a fumble. Seattle won, 31–17.
In a rematch against the Green Bay Packers, Green Bay scored 22 points and gained 308 yards. Sherman and Maxwell each recorded an interception. The Seahawks offense and special teams turned the ball over five times in the game, but the defense forced overtime, and the 28–22 victory sent the Seahawks to a second straight super bowl, where their season ended in a loss to the New England Patriots, 28-24.
The 2014 Seahawks defense did not allow a single 300-yard passer in any game, regular season or postseason, heading into the Super Bowl. Ten times they held the opposing quarterback to under 200 yards passing, doing it an 11th time against MVP Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship game.
Their defeat in Super Bowl XLIX was the first time all season that the Legion of Boom allowed a 300-yard passer. It was only the second time in the 2014 season that they allowed more than two passing touchdowns in one game, and the only time they allowed four passing touchdowns. The Legion of Boom has given up 300 or more passing yards in only six games since their inception with Richard Sherman's first start in 2011; of those six, two are their games against Tom Brady.
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