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Monday metatarsal musings

Posted Nov 12, 2012

Or footnotes: It was a Tate-a-tete day that everyone was privy to at CenturyLink Field on Sunday as Golden Tate turned in a trio of memorable plays that helped him and his team move forward.


The crowd of reporters and cameramen around Golden Tate’s cubicle was three, four, even five deep, depending on when you glanced at that corner of the locker room.

The third-year receiver being surrounded after a game is nothing new, of course, but too often in the past the questions had a negative tone. As in, “Why weren’t you able to (fill in the blank) on this play?” and “What went wrong on that play?”

Remember those days, as Tate was struggling to consistently find the handle on his ample game? He does.

“I remember it like it was yesterday, and I will never forget that,” Tate said after Sunday’s 28-7 victory over the Jets, in which he not only caught his sixth touchdown pass of the season but also threw one to flanker Sidney Rice – for his sixth TD catch.

Rather than get down and allow the things he wasn’t doing to define his game, Tate worked to improve his consistency, his route running, his approach to the game.

“Just constant hard work. Trying to get better. Trying to prove to them that I’m dependable – you can depend on me to make a play,” Tate said. “Early in the season, I got a few opportunities in games and I made the best of them. And now that I think I made believers of the offense and the quarterback and my teammates and the coaching staff, I feel like they’re starting to give me more – more chances, more opportunities to make a play.

“And I really appreciate that.”

That’s exactly what quarterback Russell Wilson did on Tate’s 38-yard TD catch in the first quarter – give him the chance to make a play. Tate ran a go-route, Wilson put the ball in a spot along the sideline where Tate could use his athletic ability to go up and over Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson and the result was similar to the other five TD catches he has made this season.

“It was just putting it in a spot where nobody else could get it,” Wilson said. “He’s done a great job of attacking the football. That was a great job by him. He has very, very strong hands.” 

Which play was better? The TD catch? Or the TD pass? Coach Pete Carroll and Wilson opted for the one behind Door C.

“I think the third-down play that he had over there in front of their bench was maybe the best play we’ve had this year,” Carroll said.

That’s because it was all about competing, and finishing, and a uniquely talented player using his unique skills to make a unique play – all cornerstones of Carroll’s coaching philosophy.

What happened on that play was Tate taking a bubble-screen pass from Wilson on third-and-5 and then hurdling his blocker as well as a would-be tackler to turn what could have been nothing into something special on the drive that ended with his TD pass to Rice.

“I didn’t see it very well,” said Carroll, whose sideline view of action across the field isn’t the vantage point you might expect. “But I loved it.”

So did Wilson, who had a much better angle on the action.

“The play that he made of the night, to be honest with you … was the bubble,” the rookie QB said. “He jumped up in the air and I thought, ‘Uh-oh, this is going to be bad.’ And he just bounced off of it.”

Just Tate being Tate. “He has those cat-like reflexes,” Wilson said. “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.”

Tate’s take? He’s just happy to be discussing all the positive plays he made to help the Seahawks win a game that upped their record to 6-4, and lifted them back into the race in the NFC West.

“I just want to keep progressing, keep getting better,” Tate said. “I’m excited.”

With that said, he’s a look at three other things that worked in Sunday’s win over the Jets and a couple of things that need work as the team heads into and comes out of its bye week:

WHAT WORKED

The defense – After being trampled by the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson the week before and passed silly by the Lions’ Matthew Stafford the week before that, the Seahawks’ now fourth-ranked defense stormed back with a vengeance.

It wasn’t just that they prevented the Jets’ offense from scoring; it was how they did it. On half the Jets’ 10 possessions, the Seahawks forced three-and-outs – and the Jets also punted after five- and seven-play series. When the Jets got into Seahawks’ territory, the defense turned in game-turning efforts – linebacker Mike Morgan’s stop for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play; cornerback Richard Sherman’s interception at the 3-yard line; and Sherman’s fumble-forcing sack.

They limited the Jets to 185 yards, in large part because the Jets were two of 11 on third downs.

“We really rode the defense today,” Carroll said. “They did a great job; gave up next-to-nothing.”

Wilson – It was first noticeable against the Lions, obvious again against the Vikings and on display later against the Jets: The game seems to be slowing down for the rookie QB. It allows him to play more freely, and therefore make more plays.

In those three games, Wilson has completed 68 percent of his passes (53 of 78) for an average of almost 200 yards, with seven touchdowns and one interception. The sum of those numbers is a 115.2 passer rating. The Broncos’ Peyton Manning leads the league with a 118.0 rating.

“It’s no big deal to him,” Carroll said of asking Wilson to do more, and getting it from him. “He’ll do whatever we ask. He’s handled everything. He has not wavered one time, one step. There’s no wobble. This guy just keeps moving forward with whatever we ask him to do.

“I think he’s having a remarkable season, and hopefully he can finish it really well.”

The Beast Mode back – Speaking of moving forward, Marshawn Lynch continues to do it. And often, it’s seemingly against all odds. With his 124 rushing yards against the Jets, Lynch has surpassed 1,000 in only 10 games (1,005) and is on pace for a career-high 1,608.

In his other 1,000-yard seasons, Lynch didn’t surpass the barrier until his 12th game (in 2007 with the Bills), 15th game (in 2008 with the Bills) and 13th game (last season with the Seahawks).

“Marshawn is vital to our football team,” Wilson said. “His ability to make people miss, his ability to run over people and when everybody is on him just to continue to get four more yards on a 2-yard run, it’s just unbelievable.

“I think the biggest thing with Marshawn is just his ability to make plays is very exceptional. That’s what makes him the best running back in the National Football League.”

WHAT NEEDS WORK

Taking this show on the road – As good as the Seahawks have been at home (5-0), especially in pulling games out or putting them away in the fourth quarter, they’ve had those same problems on the road (1-4) in losing to the Cardinals by four, the Rams by six, the 49ers by seven and the Lions by four.

While Wilson has 11 TD passes and no interceptions at home, it’s four TD passes and eight picks on the road. Lynch has run for at least 100 yards in each of the past four games, but two of three lowest-yardage games have come on the road. The Seahawks have forced 16 turnovers, but just seven in their five road games.

You get the picture. And the Seahawks need to refocus during their bye week, because they play back-to-back games at Miami (Nov. 25) and Chicago (Dec. 2) before closing with three of four at home.

Post-bye performances – While the Seahawks are 18-6 in games the week before their bye, they are 6-17 in games the week after their bye. And, they’ve been outscored 581-424 in doing it. And, they’ve allowed at least 30 points in 10 of those games. And, they’ve scored 17 or fewer points in 12 of those games.

But that was then, and this is now.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re 6-4,” Wilson said. “We have to focus on the next game and the next opportunity. I think we have the ability to take off right now.”

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