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Monday, February 6, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Super Bowl XL

Stevens puts blame on self

Seattle Times staff reporter

DETROIT — Jerramy Stevens took off his uniform in silence and in solitude. Teammates who wandered by didn't even try to find the words.

There were none left.

Stevens' entire Super Bowl experience centered around talk. Most of it came from Joey Porter, the Pittsburgh linebacker who spent the week imitating Mr. T's character Clubber Lang from Rocky III, the man who used almost every word in the dictionary to make sure Stevens knew his place.

It started with one sentence. With Stevens responding to a question about Jerome Bettis and his Detroit homecoming and how it didn't make the Seahawks feel all warm and fuzzy.

"It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves without that trophy," Stevens said.

What started as a sentence won the award for the week's most talked about, overdone story.

And then the worst possible thing happened to Jerramy Stevens. He played the worst game of his life on the biggest stage in sports, dropping at least three passes with the world waiting for his response to Porter's comments.

"I can't look at anybody but myself," Stevens said after the game. "I can't remember the last time I played this poorly."

Stevens' only cracking took place on the field. After the game, surrounded by more reporters than he had ever seen in his life, Stevens never shied away, never cracked, never stopped answering the questions.

After taking questions at a podium, Stevens walked from the interview zoo back to the Seahawks' locker room, guided by the steady arm of a public-relations member around his waist. A Fox Sports Northwest reporter begged for one last interview.

Stevens would do at least 40 more.

The whole scene was a microcosm of Stevens' week. There came another reporter and another camera crew, all asking the same questions, all wanting to know what it felt like to choke in front of millions.

He dropped a crucial third-down pass in the second quarter that stalled a Seahawks drive. He dropped a ball inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter that hit him in the chest. Fittingly, he couldn't haul in the last pass of the game. Porter stood over Stevens after that one, taunting him while it ended.

Someone asked Stevens if the whole experience was frustrating. He did not rip the reporter for the question. But he didn't say he was going to Disneyland, either.

"It's obviously frustrating," Stevens said. "We just lost the Super Bowl."

Teammates and coaches tried to stand up for Stevens. They pointed to his touchdown catch in the third quarter, the Seahawks' only touchdown of the night. They pointed to an 18-yard gain to the 1-yard line Stevens had in the fourth quarter that was negated by a holding penalty.

Tight end Ryan Hannam said, "You can't point at one guy." Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said he didn't think Stevens "faded under the pressure."

Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell made a point of reminding Stevens that this had been his best season as a pro.

None of that mattered. Because this is what everybody wondered.

"Maybe Joey got in his head," Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior said.

Porter didn't have anything to say about Stevens afterward. He called it a non-story, said it didn't matter, even threatened to walk off the podium if anyone asked anything else about Stevens.

And finally, Stevens was left with silence.

Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or gbishop@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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