By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks never trailed at any point Thursday night, but their 34-22 win over Arizona featured a pair of nice comebacks.
Brandon Browner had been benched, pulled for a quarter last week after the cornerback made repeated mistakes in coverage.
Sidney Rice had been bashed, criticized by fans who were becoming increasingly upset about the receiver’s lack of production relative to his salary.
A week after he was briefly benched for mistakes in coverage, Brandon Browner was one of the Seahawks’ defensive stars in their win over Arizona Thursday. (AP)
The pair of embattled Seahawks bounced back nicely Thursday night, providing the bookends of a win that began with Rice’s 31-yard touchdown reception on Seattle’s opening possession and was effectively sealed with a third-quarter Browner interception that ended any realistic chance of a Cardinals comeback.
“I was happy to see Brandon Browner have such a dominant game,” coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” on Friday. “I thought he played great for us and made some huge plays.”
Browner had a hand in Seattle’s other interception, too, breaking up a deep pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald with a perfectly-timed swipe that tipped the ball to teammate Earl Thomas.
Browner had been beaten deep two weeks prior in a loss to Indianapolis and again last week in Seattle’s win over Tennessee, and it became a big enough issue that Carroll decided he needed to watch a few series from the sideline.
“I was letting guys get behind me in my deep zone, not trusting in my underneath defenders,” Browner said on the postgame show on 710 ESPN Seattle. “Tonight, that’s pretty much all I did in zone, let those guys handle the short routes and whatnot. That’s why we gave up a few [comeback routes] and whatnot, because I was staying on top of things tonight.”
For Rice, the disapproval over his slow start peaked last week after he lost a fumble and finished with fewer than three catches for the fifth time in six games. It wasn’t the number of receptions he made Thursday night but the quality of this three catches that constituted a step in the right direction.
The touchdown reception will be most remembered for the degree of difficulty of the throw Wilson made while rolling to his right and heaving a pass off his back foot nearly 50 yards in the air. It wouldn’t have been possible, though, had Rice not altered his route after noticing safety Yeremiah Bell out of position.
“That was a fantastic adjustment by Sidney,” Carroll said. “Those are the adjustments on scrambles we are hoping to see.”
He did it again at the end of the first half, sliding to catch a pass near the sideline from a scrambling Wilson. It was initially ruled an incompletion but overturned when replays showed Rice deftly got his hands underneath the ball and maintained possession as he slid out of bounds.
That 16-yard reception converted a third down and extended a drive that ended with a field goal that gave Seattle a 17-10 halftime lead.
That lead had extended 11 points by the time Browner made his interception, a comfortable enough margin that Carroll was laughing on the sideline when the cornerback came up just short of the pick-six in comical fashion. Browner said he had noticed Fitzgerald in hot pursuit and stumbled a few yards shy of the end zone while trying to avoid him.
“I actually got fined for it, for not scoring, fined by the defensive back group,” he said. “We hold ourselves to a high standard, so that’s a fine that I’m willing to pay.”
While Browner lost $100, he gained some redemption.