RENTON - Raheem Brock had this powerful vision: Lining up at defensive end, spinning past offensive tackles and taking down one quarterback after another.
The image was so fixed in his mind that he bet his career on it.
And he ended up out of work because of it.
OK, sometimes these visions take time to come into focus. He would have no idea that it all would happen in Seattle, and the Seahawks, meanwhile, had hardly a clue that he would be so effective in that role for them.
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Brock, a free-agent addition just a week before the first game, brought his season sack total to nine with 21/2 Sunday in a win over St. Louis that earned the Seahawks the NFC West title and a first-round playoff game Saturday at Qwest Field against New Orleans.
He and fellow defensive end Chris Clemons now have a total of 20 sacks, giving them the league’s third-highest sacks total for ends behind the Giants’ Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora (23), and the Colts’ Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis (21).
Brock’s total surely has to be a league high if they rated production-per-snap because until recently he had been used mostly as a reserve to Clemons. But as his pressure on quarterbacks continued to improve, he’s earned more time in a deployment opposite Clemons – a scheme that has been very effective.
And as the Seahawks venture into the postseason for the first time since 2007, it is Brock who has the most playoff experience of anybody on the roster (16 games).
For eight seasons, he had been a fixture at defensive tackle for Indianapolis, starting 103 games. But with Freeney and Mathis creating havoc from the ends, Brock was left to do the dirty work on the interior of the defensive line.
“We played together eight years; they’re like my brothers,” Brock said of Freeney and Mathis. “But I wanted to find my own opportunity, where I could be one of the key defensive ends on a team.”
Although the Colts had just played in their second Super Bowl in his time there, Brock asked to be released last spring.
“I always felt I could do it and I knew I had to take a chance.”
But nobody called. Finally, he landed with Tennessee for a short time in training camp, and was released.
On Sept. 6, the Seahawks picked him up.
“It was a little crazy,” Brock said of the experience. “So I feel blessed to be in this situation, to have Pete (Carroll) call me up and have me come in, and now play across from Clemons, one of the great pass rushers.”
“Both those guys have brought the kind of energy in the pass rush that you really love,” Carroll said of Brock and Clemons. “Both guys are really quick; they have high motors. Raheem was all over the place (against the Rams).”
With the two bookending the defensive line on passing downs, opponents now have a tougher time scheming pass protection – a situation the Hawks will need to exploit against the Saints’ prolific passing game and quarterback Drew Brees.
The Hawks will go into this one with 12 starters who have never snapped on a helmet in the postseason. Brock will happily share with them his experience.
“The whole atmosphere is different,” he said. “Everything is magnified; in the playoffs, you’re playing against the best teams so just two or three plays can make the difference and determine the game. So the team that is most fundamentally sound and consistent will win.”
Brock had special incentive to perform well against the Rams; his father, Zachary Dixon, was attending his first Seahawks game. As a fan, that is. He participated in many during the 1983 and ’84 seasons when he was a running back and returner for the Hawks.
“It was great having him out here; he’s a really busy man, so it was great,” Brock said of his father, now an engineer in the Washington, D.C., area.
Brock has even more motivation against the Saints, as it was New Orleans that defeated his Colts team in the most recent Super Bowl.
“I definitely want to get them back for getting that Super Bowl ring,” he said. “There was a lot of stuff going on in that game; I won’t go into it, but it would be great to kick them out of the playoffs.”
If a Seahawks victory is coming to him as a vision, oddsmakers might want to take it seriously.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com