1: Crushing Vernon Davis
Seahawks fans already knew Chancellor could deliver the goods every Sunday. But the rest of the NFL found out on a Sunday night late in the 2012 season when a 49ers team that would go on to within an eyelash of winning the Super Bowl came to Seattle and left as 42-13 losers.
The defining moment in the game came late in the first quarter when San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick floated a pass to tight end Vernon Davis deep in Seattle territory. But before Davis could get to the ball, Chancellor got to Davis, leveling him with a shoulder-first hit that fellow safety Earl Thomas later said was “like a car wreck.’’
Chancellor drew a flag on the play setting up a 49ers field goal. Fittingly, that attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Richard Sherman. And Chancellor was not fined by the NFL, which the Seahawks later accepted as acknowledgement that the hit was clean.
2: Super Bowl game changer
The Seahawks were already off to a good start in the Super Bowl following Denver’s safety on the first play of the game on a snap that flew through the end zone. But the game turned for good on Denver’s second series when receiver Demaryius Thomas caught a short pass over the middle, and after taking two steps was floored by Chancellor. Many later pointed to the play as changing the nature of a game that Seattle would go on to win 43-8 with Denver receivers afraid the rest of the game to go over the middle against the Seahawks’ defense.
“Every one of my teammates came up to me and said that was the tone-changer right there,’’ Chancellor said later. “That set the tone. They look for me to do that, and I love doing it.’’
3: A leap and a jump
That the 6-3, 225-pound Chancellor had unique physical gifts for a player of his stature was rarely in question. But anyone not aware figured it out in 2015 when the Seahawks hosted the Carolina Panthers in an NFC Divisional playoff game.
With four seconds left in the first half, Carolina’s Graham Gano lined up for a 35-yard field goal. Only, as he did, Chancellor sprinted from Seattle’s secondary and then leapt over the line of scrimmage, a feat that left CenturyLink Field --- and everyone watching on TV --- open-mouthed in amazement.
Carolina, apparently stunned by it all, was called for a false start resulting in another kick from the 22. On that attempt, Chancellor again leapt over the line. This time, Chancellor was called for running into the kicker. Eventually, Gano made an attempt from the 35. But few remember that. What resonates is the sight of Chancellor twice pulling off a feat few figured someone his size could.
4: A pick and a run
Later in the same game, the Panthers were making a late run, having driven from their own 20 to the Seattle 13, down 24-10 with just over six minutes left. On a second-and-four play, a Cam Newton pass intended for tight end Ed Dickson --- coincidentally now a Seahawk --- was picked off by Chancellor, who read the play from the start and stepped in front of the pass, returning it 90 yards for a touchdown that not only is the longest interception return in Seahawks history but also ended the game. The touchdown put Seattle ahead 31-10 and clinched a berth in the NFC title game the following week against Green Bay.
5: A chop and a stop
After Chancellor somewhat inexplicably held out for the first two games of the season, the Seahawks were 1-2 heading into a Monday night game at home against Detroit. Seattle’s 13-10 lead was hanging precariously when Calvin Johnson caught a pass and appeared headed for a go-ahead touchdown. But so was the ball, which Chancellor punched out as Johnson reached for the end zone. Linebacker K.J. Wright then punched the ball again as it headed for the back of the end zone, guiding it out of the back of the end zone and into oblivion, preserving a much-needed Seattle win.
“I felt bad I gave that up and I didn’t want to be the one (that was the reason the Seahawks lost) so I had to get the ball back,’’ said Chancellor, who had been on the defending end of a Matt Stafford pass that had gotten the Lions close prior to the deciding play.
Then, when he saw Calvin Johnson holding the ball a little loose, he said he made a goal of punching it out hard enough that it would roll out of the end zone. “Try to punch it straight through the end zone,’’ said Chancellor.
Many argued later Wright should have been flagged for similarly punching the ball out of the end zone, but the officials didn’t flag the Seahawks, and Wright and Chancellor later argued that was all that mattered.
“It happened so fast,’’ Wight said. “When you are in that split section it’s ‘do I catch it? Do I knock it out?’ I just decided to knock it out. I didn’t want to try to catch it and bobble it and fumble it. … No one said anything. … And then I watched the TV copy and no one said anything. So no one knew (about the rule).’’