Golden Tate

NFL playoffs | Seahawks vs. Lions: How they match up

NFL playoffs | Seahawks vs. Lions: How they match up

The 12th Man. The locomotive-loud crowd at CenturyLink Field is an undeniable help to the Seattle Seahawks, particularly on defense.

But it’s the missing man that figures to have the biggest impact by far.

Three-time All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas has been reduced to a spectator since suffering a broken tibia Dec. 4 against Carolina. He ran into teammate Kam Chancellor as they were both leaping to pick off a Cam Newton pass.

Thomas is a game-changer, a player with staggering sideline-to-sideline speed who can clean up mistakes made by teammates and keep big plays from becoming huge plays. That’s especially important against a quarterback such as Detroit’s Matthew...

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