By Brady Henderson
Neither Sidney Rice’s joke nor Golden Tate’s throw missed the mark, even if one was delivered with better timing and grace than the other.
“I thought we traded for Tebow for a second,” Rice said, evoking laughter from a group of reporters for the reference to the Jets’ backup quarterback and his notoriously slow throwing motion.
Rice and Tate were all smiles after combining for three of the Seahawks’ four touchdowns during their 28-7 rout of the Jets on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Each receiver had already caught a scoring pass from Russell Wilson before the Seahawks used a trick play in the fourth quarter that had Tate throwing to a wide open Rice in the back of the end zone – once he finally got a grip on the ball.
Tate hauled in a 38-yard touchdown on the Seahawks’ second play from scrimmage, making a leaping, twisting catch over Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson. Tate finished with two catches for 51 yards. The touchdown was his sixth of the season and third in two weeks.
“He’s done a great job of attacking the football,” Wilson said. “That was a great play by him.”
Not as great as a play he made later in the game, according to coach Pete Carroll.
With Seattle facing a third-and-5 in the fourth quarter, Tate picked up a first down on a bubble screen, leaping over one defender and then breaking the tackle of another right after landing. The play gained 13 yards and extended a drive that would end in Tate’s touchdown pass to Rice.
Carroll said Tate’s catch, hurdle and run “was maybe the best play we’ve had this year.”
“I thought it was a great play,” he said. “I didn’t see it very well, but I loved it.”
Golden Tate outjumped a Jets cornerback for a 38-yard touchdown reception on the Seahawks’ first possession. (AP)
Wilson was impressed as well.
“He jumped up in the air and I thought, ‘Uh-oh, this is going to be bad,’ and he just bounced off of it,” Wilson said. “He has those cat-like reflexes and he just did a great job of continuing to make a play and guys blocked for him and we got a huge first down there.”
Rice finished with 54 yards on two catches, both going for touchdowns. He now has four scores over the last three games.
On his first touchdown on Sunday, Rice fought off a hold by Jets cornerback Ellis Lankster and made an over-the-shoulder catch before falling into the end zone for a 31-yard score.
The Seahawks drove to New York’s 8-yard line on their next possession before consecutive penalties pushed them back to the 18, giving Seattle more room to again reach into its back of trick plays.
Wilson had underthrown Rice on a flea-flicker earlier in the game, missing out on what likely would have been a touchdown.
This play called for Tate to go in motion, catch a pitch and feign an end-around run before pulling up and throwing to Rice. But the wet conditions forced Tate to take a few extra steps while trying to establish a firm grip on the ball. Once he did, he brought his left arm back slowly as if he was still afraid of the ball squirting out, then floated a spiral to Rice in the back of the end zone.
“Thankfully Sidney was still selling his route, and by the time he started to get open I gripped it enough to throw it,” Tate said. “I planned on it being a duck so I kind of overthrew it a little but and it almost went out the back of the end zone because it was a spiral, but it was a great play by him and an even better call by the coaching staff.”
Asked to grade Tate’s throw, Rice gave the pass itself a 10, the delivery a 2.
“His throwing motion was the worst,” Rice said with a laugh. “… But he got the ball off and he made a heck of a play.”