Sidney Rice has eight catches in Seahawks debut

Sep 25, 2011, 10:13 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2011, 1:16 am

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Sidney Rice had eight catches in his Seahawks debut, including one he had to wrestle away from Adrian Wilson. (AP)

By Brady Henderson

Sidney Rice is the quarterback’s best friend.

That’s not as much of a comment on the relationship Rice built with Tarvaris Jackson during their time in Minnesota as it is his ability to make a quarterback’s job easier — whether it’s catching an off-target pass, winning a jump ball or hauling in a reception in double coverage.

Rice did a little bit of everything in the Seahawks’ 13-10 win over the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, catching a game-high eight passes for 109 yards.

“Whenever he’s one-on-one, it doesn’t matter if he’s in front of the guy or not, just throw the ball up and most of the time he’s going to make the play. You can pretty much count on that,” Jackson said of Rice. “That always gives a quarterback confidence, knowing that if I throw it up, if he doesn’t catch it then nobody’s going to catch it.”

Rice, making his Seahawks debut after missing the first two games with a shoulder injury, connected with Jackson early and often.

Their longest hookup came in the first quarter, when Jackson found Rice down the right sideline on a wheel route for a 32-yard gain. Jackson noticed single coverage on Rice, and when he saw that Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson wasn’t turning his head around, he took a shot.

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Sidney Rice was targeted 10 times on Sunday. (AP)

“The safety wasn’t looking back at all,” Jackson said, “so I just tried to give [Rice] a chance to make a play, and he did.”

Rice and Wilson wrestled for the ball as they went to the ground. Since simultaneous possession goes to the receiver, Rice was awarded the catch.

“That was a ridiculous throw and catch right there,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He just believed in Sidney and gave him a chance. It was a great play for us.”

That rapport was gained during the four years Jackson and Rice spent together with the Vikings, and was likely a major consideration in the Seahawks’ decision to sign Rice to a five-year, $41 million deal that includes more than $18 million in guarantees.

“He’s very comfortable with me,” Rice said of Jackson. “He knows where I’m going to be and things like that. As long as we continue to have the confidence and continue to make plays, and the rest of the receivers continue to make plays, I feel like things will go well.”

While Rice’s big game was positive a sign for a struggling offense, Carroll and Jackson said they would prefer to spread the ball around more. Rice was targeted 10 times and accounted for nearly half of Jackson’s 18 completions. No other Seattle receiver caught more than two passes.

Mike Williams went without a catch, and with just five receptions in three games, he hasn’t been much of a factor. Coach and quarterback seem intent on changing that.

“Obviously, we want to get the ball to Mike a little bit more,” Jackson said, noting that the game film will likely reveal a few plays where Williams was open. “We just have to do a better job of making sure I look for him and making sure we get some plays where we get him the ball.”

Said Carroll: “We couldn’t get the ball today to Mike, but we will. You know we will.”

The Seahawks offense remains very much a work in progress. The 30 points they’ve scored in three games proves as much. But with Rice finally healthy, they have a receiver whose presence alone can change a game.

“This is a big deal to us to get him back on the field,” Carroll said. “He is a fantastic football player, and he’s going to make a difference for us.”

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Sidney Rice has eight catches in Seahawks debut