Sidney Rice capped a stellar day for Seattle’s wide receivers with a 46-yard game-winning touchdown catch. (AP)
By Brady Henderson
Russell Wilson joked during his postgame press conference about how tightly Sidney Rice clutched the football to his chest while completing his game-winning touchdown catch.
“I think he squeezed it with four hands,” the quarterback said after Seattle’s 24-23 win over the Patriots on Sunday.
The Seahawks’ receivers weren’t going to let another victory slip through their grasp like they did in their Week 1 loss to Arizona. On Sunday, that group didn’t just hold on to the game-winning touchdown, but it made several plays before that to put the Seahawks in position to win.
First it was Doug Baldwin, who couldn’t make a difficult diving catch in the end zone which would have given Seattle a game-winning touchdown against Arizona. He lost control of the ball in mid-air, then lost a few teeth when he hit the ground.
On Sunday, Baldwin hauled in a 50-yard pass from a scrambling Wilson on the Seahawks’ second possession. Four plays later, his 24-yard touchdown gave Seattle a 10-7 lead. Baldwin slipped coming off the line of scrimmage and fought off a jam from cornerback Kyle Arrington before making a leaping catch in the end zone.
“He came up with some great catches there,” said Wilson, who threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs.
Doug Baldwin’s leaping catch in the end zone gave the Seahawks their first touchdown. (AP)
Golden Tate, no stranger to criticism during his first two seasons in the NFL, became an easy target for national pundits who poked fun at his disputed game-winning touchdown catch against Green Bay.
But there was no doubt about the validity – or the impact – of the 51-yard catch he made Sunday that set up another touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tate timed his jump perfectly and caught the underthrown pass over cornerback Devin McCourty.
“His hand was in there,” Tate said of McCourty. “I just held onto it some way.”
Seattle’s receivers had been assigned some of the blame for the offense’s inability to move the ball through the air earlier in the season. That group, some suggested, isn’t explosive enough to make big plays down the field and not clutch enough to make tough catches in key moments.
Tate was aware of the criticisms.
“We haven’t been reading it but we’ve definitely been hearing about ‘Seattle doesn’t have receivers, they can’t throw the ball, they can’t do this,’ ” he said. “We all know, we all believe in us and the 12th Man believes in us. We know we can make plays and today was a perfect example of just guys across the board just making play after play after play.”
Much of that talk stemmed from the season-opening loss to Arizona, a game that ended when Wilson’s fourth-down pass went through Braylon Edwards’ hands as he crossed the goal line.
Edwards, seldom-used since that game, got his chance for redemption on Sunday. Four plays after Tate’s long reception, with the Seahawks trailing by 13 points and facing fourth-and-3 from New England’s 10, Wilson found Edwards in the end zone for a touchdown. Edwards caught the back-shoulder pass despite interference by cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
That touchdown, Edwards’ first since 2010, pulled Seattle to within six points. The Seahawks punted after a three-and-out on their next possession and got the ball back at their own 43 with 2:38 left in the game. Four plays later, Rice got behind New England’s secondary with a fake to the corner that caused rookie safety Tavon Wilson to bite.
Rice hung on for dear life as he came down in the end zone with a touchdown reception that gave the Seahawks a come-from-behind win – and their embattled receivers a measure of redemption.
“It’s been so frustrating going through practice … each week knowing what we have in our [wide receiver] room and what our potential could be, but potential is only a word,” Edwards said. “That’s been the frustrating part for us all season, so to get a win like this today where you have Doug Baldwin making big plays early on, you have Golden making some big plays in there, then you come back with Sidney Rice making the game-winner.
“This is what we can put on film, this is what we can do. Now we have to capitalize and continue to do it.”