Seattle Seahawks: Golden Tate

Before training camp begins on July 25, here's a look (by position) at how the Seattle Seahawks stack up going in and whether the team is improved or not as good as it was a year ago.

The offensive line was Tuesday. Now, let's look at the rest of the offense.

Wide receivers -- Better

Essentially what has happened in the offseason is the Seahawks have swapped Golden Tate for Percy Harvin as a starter, but not exactly. Doug Baldwin will move from the slot to Tate's spot outside. Harvin, who missed most of last season with a hip injury, will start in the slot.

Harvin
Tate had an outstanding season in 2013 and parlayed that into a big-money deal with the Detroit Lions. But a three-receiver formation of Baldwin, Harvin and Jermaine Kearse can be better with Harvin instead of Tate.

A big improvement here is speed, including second-round draft choice Paul Richardson of Colorado. Richardson can flat-out fly. He proved it in the offseason workouts, consistently getting behind defenders on deep throws.

The man who could be the biggest surprise in the receiving corps is fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood of Alabama. Norwood has impressed everyone with his reliable hands and his ability to make tough catches in traffic. He's a mature guy and it's obvious he came from a big-time college program by how he reacts to instruction and his understanding of proper route running.

Seattle's receivers got a bad rap last year. They don't put up big numbers because the Seahawks don't throw the ball as much as most teams. But this is a quality group that has much better speed than it had a year ago.

Tight ends -- Better

Getting starter Zach Miller to restructure his contract was a huge plus for Seattle. Miller isn't flashy, but he plays at a consistently high level as a plus blocker and a man who can make key catches over the middle.

What will make the group better this year is Luke Willson having a full year under his belt. Willson easily was the highest-performing rookie for the team last year. He had 20 receptions and was a better blocker than expected.

The Seahawks also have Anthony McCoy returning after missing last season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Running backs -- Not as good

Lynch
Marshawn Lynch has been as big a part of the team's success as anyone with three consecutive seasons of at least 1,200 yards rushing. He is the heart and soul of Seattle's entire team attitude with his relentless power running style and his physical nature.

However, he has taken a pounding, averaging 300 carries per year the last three seasons. It's not just the number of carries; it's how Lynch runs, barreling over defenders in Beast Mode.

The other issue is Lynch's desire for a change to his contract, wanting more money up front this season. He attended minicamp (but did not participate due a sore ankle) because he felt the Seahawks would negotiate in good faith. Everyone put on a happy face and said all is well.

But what happens if Lynch doesn't get what he wants? How will it change things this season and is this his last season in Seattle?

No matter what happens on that front, it's likely Lynch will have fewer carries this season as the Seahawks try to gradually make 2013 rookie Christine Michael a bigger part of the offense. Robert Turbin also looked good in offseason workouts after having a knee problem repaired when the 2013 season ended.

Lynch also won't have his buddy in the backfield with him. The Seahawks didn't re-sign fullback Michael Robinson, who is like a big brother to Lynch. Robinson has health issues that probably have ended his career.

But the Seahawks won't lose anything in fullback production because Derrick Coleman is a quality blocker ready to step up. They also drafted a human concrete block in Kiero Small (5-8, 250), who will fight for a spot on the 53-man roster.

The Seahawks will continue to be a power-running offense, but look for them to throw a little more this season with speedsters Harvin and Richardson as consistent options.

Quarterback -- Better

Wilson
It's almost scary to think how good Russell Wilson can be considering he already led the team to its first Super Bowl title in only his second season. And he did it with an offensive line that struggled through injuries. He also did it for the most part without Harvin, the man who was signed to open up the offense and give Wilson more options.

Now Wilson will have a healthy Harvin on the field, and hopefully, a more consistent performance from his offensive line.

Tarvaris Jackson gives Seattle one of the best backup QBs in the league -- a man who knows the offense and is well-respected by his teammates.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Terrelle Pryor and whether he earns a spot as a third quarterback. Pryor was up and down in the offseason workouts, but his physical ability is unquestioned and the coaches have been impressed with his work ethic. It appears they have no interest in trying him at another position. B.J. Daniels will battle Pryor for a roster spot.
Few people expected him to return to the Seahawks, but now it's official. Brandon Browner signed a three-year deal Friday with the New England Patriots worth $17 million.

Browner
The Patriots now have signed two big-name cornerbacks for big dollars. They signed Darrelle Revis on Thursday to a deal worth $12 million for the 2014 season.

And obviously, the fact that Browner has to serve a suspension of four more games at the start of the 2014 season was not a deterrent for New England. Browner also will have to forfeit four additional weeks of salary as part of his suspension for his 2013 substance-abuse violation over a positive test for marijuana.

Browner tweeted this statement Friday evening:

"Today, I am proud to announce that I am a New England Patriot. I am honored that the Patriots are making me part of their legendary organization, and am
grateful for the opportunity Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, Nick Caserio and the entire team have given me.

"I intend to diligently work with the same passion and dedication that I have displayed since coming into the NFL to uphold the great traditions and qualities that are embodied by the Patriots."

Browner also thanked the Seahawks organization:

"I would be remiss if I didn't thank the Seattle Seahawks for giving a CFL player the once in-a-lifetime opportunity to return to the NFL, making a
young boy's dream come true.

"To Coach Pete Carroll, GM John Schneider, [former Seahawks vice president, now Jets GM] John Idzik, [defensive backs] Coach [Kris] Richard, [defensive passing game coordinator] Rocky Seto, the LOB, [Legion of Boom], my teammates, the training staff, the equipment guys the Seahawks organization as a whole and most importantly the 12th Man, I say thank you for everything you have done for myself and my family. I am a truly blessed person."

Browner, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011, missed the final six regular season games of 2013, along with the playoffs, because of a groin injury, and subsequently, the suspension.

He becomes the sixth free agent the Seahawks have lost this week. The others are wide receiver Golden Tate, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, safety Chris Maragos, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and defensive end O'Brien Schofield (although his deal with the New York Giants was canceled because of a knee problem).

The Seahawks met Friday with former Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton. Former Raiders defensive tackle Vance Walker was scheduled to meet with the Seahawks, but he signed Friday with Kansas City.

It's still possible the Seahawks will sign former Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, who met with team officials earlier this week.

Golden Tate to visit the Lions

March, 11, 2014
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Seattle Seahawks free agent receiver Golden Tate is about to find out how much other teams want him, and if they’re willing to pay the $6 to $7 million a year he wants to leave Seattle.

Tate
Tate
Tate will be in Detroit on Wednesday to visit the Lions. Obviously, Tate would be the No. 2 receiver there behind Calvin Johnson. Other team visits, the Jets could be one of them, are possible before he makes a decision.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider said keeping Tate is a priority, but the price could become a factor. Seattle released wide receiver Sidney Rice, which saved $7.3 million of cap money. But it’s unlikely the Seahawks would go higher than $5 million per year for Tate.

Seattle had a big signing Monday in keeping defensive lineman Michael Bennett, which proved to be even more important Tuesday when they lost defensive tackle Clinton McDonald to Tampa Bay and defensive end O’Brien Schofield to the New York Giants.

The Seahawks now are working to keep defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. The team also might be interested in one of the free agent defensive ends -- Jared Allen, Julius Peppers or maybe even Demarcus Ware -- if the price is right on a one-year deal.

It appears Seattle could lose cornerback Walter Thurmond to the Jaguars, who are becoming the Seahawks-East. Thurmond is making a visit to Jacksonville on Wednesday.

Mission accomplished. The Seattle Seahawks did what they wanted to do and kept the man they really wanted to keep.

Michael Bennett, possibly the No. 1 defensive lineman among this year's free agents, signed a four-year deal with Seattle on Monday that will pay him $28.5 million-plus, including $16 million guaranteed and $10 million for 2014.

“It was close, but I'm happy to be coming back with the Seahawks," Bennett said. “I have a good situation, so why would I want to change it? And I got as much guaranteed as any other contract out there. This is a great team and great organization. I want all our guys to come back."

Seattle general manager John Schneider said all along that re-signing Bennett was a top priority, along with keeping the core of the Super Bowl-winning team together.

Bennett was the team's best defensive lineman last year after signing a one-year contract for $5 million. He had 8.5 sacks and was a constant disruptive force with his ability to play tackle or end.

So the question is, can the Seahawks still re-sign their other top free agents after spending this much money on Bennett? Does this signing mean wide receiver Golden Tate is gone? Does it mean they can't keep defensive tackles Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel? Does it impact the ability to re-sign kicker Steven Hauschka?

Not necessarily.

The Seahawks were able to keep Bennett for less money than some people thought it would take for him to stay. Some thought Bennett would get as much as $40 million over four years.

What Seattle is paying Bennett is similar to what they would have paid defensive end Red Bryant this year if they had kept him.

Tate is probably Seattle's next priority. The Seahawks released receiver Sidney Rice to free up money to try to keep Tate. But Tate believes he can get more than $7 million per year, possibly from the New York Jets. If so, he is probably gone. If the Seahawks can keep him in the $5 million range for four years, he could return.

Top kickers in the league are getting $3 million or more, which is what Hauschka will want in order to stay. He's worth it. Hauschka missed only two field goals all season, and one of those was blocked.

The Seahawks probably will need to choose between McDonald and McDaniel. If so, they should keep McDonald. He made only $592,000 last year and had a breakout season with 5.5 sacks.

So the price was right for keeping Bennett, who turned down more money from the Chicago Bears. They offered Bennett $32 million over four years. However, Illinois has a state income tax and Washington doesn't, so it's probably a wash.

Bennett said the contract details did play a small part in his decision, but not a big part. The fact is that Bennett wanted to stay in Seattle, despite his earlier words that “this isn't Costco” when asked about giving a hometown discount.

"It's about the fans, the team and the city," he said. "I think this is the No. 1 football city in America."



Bennett also said Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman begged him to stay and influenced his decision.

The Seahawks also are likely to make a couple of more moves with veteran players to add salary-cap space. Defensive end Chris Clemons, whose cap value is $9.6 million in 2014, probably will be released, but could re-sign for less money. Tight end Zach Miller, with a cap value of $7 million this year, probably will need to restructure his contract in order to stay.

Once again, Schneider is showing he is the master manipulator on salary-cap issues. He managed to keep one of the defensive stars of a Super Bowl-winning team, and did so for less money than many thought it would take.

Don't count the GM out when it comes to keeping most of the other key free agents who helped Seattle win a championship.
They could have renamed him Golden Tape after the amazing grab Golden Tate made in the Georgia Dome on Nov. 10.

No. 7 -- Tate's one-handed TD catch at Atlanta.

Leading 16-3 near the end of the first half, the Seahawks had a third-and-5 at the Falcons' 6-yard-line when quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back and threw a fade into the left corner of the end zone for Tate.

He reached for the ball with his left hand and his palm got the ball at its point. Tate wrapped his fingers around the ball and it stayed there, somehow. Tate pulled the other point of the ball up to his facemask while Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford had his right hand in Tate face, but Tate held on.

That was only half the battle. Tate made the catch in the back corner of the end zone. He got his left foot down just inside the line, and also managed to drag his right foot on the turf before falling out of the end zone.

The scoring play was reviewed and it stood in what was one of the most remarkable receptions of the season. The Seahawks improved to 9-1 that day by blowing out the Falcons 33-10.

Tate had six receptions for 106 yards that afternoon. He also had three punt returns for 55 yards, including a 32-yard return on a ball he fielded at the Seattle 8-yard-line.

Rice's release could help keep Tate

February, 21, 2014
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The inevitable release of wide receiver Sidney Rice, which ESPN Insider Adam Schefter is reporting will happen soon, is the move the Seattle Seahawks had to make to have any chance of keeping free agent receiver Golden Tate.

Tate
Tate
Rice
Rice’s release will save $7.3 million in salary-cap money for Seattle. It’s money the team will need to try to re-sign Tate, who made $880,000 in 2013 and likely will get offers in excess of $5 million per year in free agency.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Thursday that re-signing Tate was a big priority: “Golden knows where we stand, how much we love him and how much we want him on this team.”

Releasing Rice also will help the Seahawks re-sign receiver Doug Baldwin, a restricted free agent who made only $560,000 in 2013.

If Tate signs with another team, the Seahawks could use some of the money saved on Rice to try to keep defensive linemen Michael Bennett, a free agent who made $4.8 million in 2013.

Rice was due $17.5 million in base salary over the next two seasons. He missed the final eight regular-season games last season, and the playoffs, after suffering a torn ACL against St. Louis on Oct. 28.

But Rice never has been the player the Seahawks hoped he would be when they signed him to a five-year, $41 million deal in 2011. At 6-foot-4, Rice was the one big target among the Seattle receiving corps, so it’s likely the team will look for a big wide receiver early in the 2014 draft.

Rice’s upcoming release is only the first in what probably will be several difficult roster decisions by the Seahawks to add cap space. Defensive end Chris Clemons, who is scheduled to make $9.6 million in 2014, also could be a luxury the team can’t afford to keep.

Franchise/transition tags: Seahawks

February, 17, 2014
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The Seattle Seahawks have three top-priority free agents they want to keep: defensive end Michael Bennett, receiver Golden Tate and kicker Steven Hauschka.

But considering where the team is headed with it salary-cap issues one year from now, it appears unlikely Seattle would use a franchise tag on any of them.

There are three possible franchise designations -- exclusive tender, non-exclusive tender and transition player. All three are explained here.

The Seahawks know a day of reckoning is coming after next season when the contracts are up for cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas, and quarterback Russell Wilson is eligible to renegotiate his original contract.

That’s going to cost $35 million to $40 million to keep all three of them. A franchise designation could make sense next year for Sherman or Thomas.

But for now, the cost is just too steep for Bennett or Tate. Bennett would receive a raise of almost $8 million, going from $4.8 million to $12.6 million. Tate’s salary would be an astronomical increase from $880,000 against the salary cap to $11.6 million.

That’s just too steep a price to pay for a team that has to plan ahead for the enormous salary issues coming soon.

However, a franchise tag for Hauschka isn’t completely out of the question. It would cost the Seahawks a comparatively low $3 million, moving Hauschka from $620,000 to $3.6 million.

It may seem a little far-fetched to use the franchise tag on a kicker, but the Seahawks have done it before. General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll opted to use it on kicker Olindo Mare in 2010, but they haven’t used it since.

Hauschka was one of the best kickers in the league last season, missing only two attempts, and one of those was blocked. He also improved his distance on kickoffs with touchbacks on 52 percent on those kicks.

Nevertheless, it’s more likely the Seahawks will try to sign Hauschka to a multiyear deal than use the franchise tag.
NEW YORK -- The talk is over, and the day finally is here: Super Bowl Sunday.

Here are five things the Seattle Seahawks must do well to defeat the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium:

1. Pressure Peyton Manning: It’s a mammoth task against a quarterback who gets rid of the football so quickly, but it isn’t so much about getting sacks as it is putting enough pressure on Manning to take him out of his comfort zone.

Everyone knows Manning is a classic pocket passer. He likes to step up in the pocket to make his throws. That will make it difficult for a talented edge-rusher like Cliff Avril to get to Manning.

Bryant
So the Seahawks have to get pressure up the middle with their defensive tackles -- Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel. Big Red Bryant will also get a push in the middle sometimes, and they might use some stunts with end Michael Bennett rushing up the middle when he lines up outside. Also, look for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to blitz a couple of times.

"There’s no certain way to get to Manning," Bennett said. "It comes down to doing what we do and beating your man."

2. Let the quiet Beast loudly rumble: It’s been a strange and somewhat stressful week for Marshawn Lynch, having to do media sessions on three consecutive days. Not his cup of tea, and a distraction the Seahawks could have lived without, but that is all behind them now.

Lynch
Lynch was successful on runs up the middle in the first two playoff games this season, but the Seahawks should try more off-tackle runs and toss sweeps against Denver. The Broncos have Terrance Knighton at nose tackle, a mountain of a man at 340 pounds. He’s a run-stuffer.

When asked what his biggest concern was regarding the Denver defense, Lynch didn’t hesitate. "Pot Roast," he said, which is Knighton’s nickname. "He’s a big boy."

The Seahawks might use a third tackle with Alvin Bailey, as they did against the 49ers, to line up with tight end Zach Miller and use a muscle push to run Lynch off the edge of the line and hope he goes Beast Mode.

3. Keep the Broncos guessing with Harvin: The Seahawks need to make the most of their X factor in receiver Percy Harvin. The Denver defense can’t know exactly how to account for a guy who played only six quarters this season, but they know he’s faster than a cheetah with its tail on fire.

Harvin
So make them worry about Harvin on almost every play by putting him in motion and lining him up in different spots. Get the ball to him early so Denver will know he’s part of the plan. Someone for Denver will have to spy him, meaning someone else on the Seattle offense -- receivers Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin -- will get free.

"We’re excited to have Percy back, because he brings more to the table," Tate said. "He's going to open it up for other guys more."

4. Punish the Broncos on crossing routes: The Seattle defense can’t allow Manning and his receivers to nickel-and-dime them to death with short passes over the middle and quick slants.

Chancellor
And if receiver Wes Welker wants to try a pick-play block, have strong safety Kam Chancellor waiting to greet him. Linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright also have to get physical on these plays and let the Broncos know there is a price to pay every time they catch a pass in the middle of the field.

"We are a physical bunch," Chancellor said. "We like to be physical. We like to be hands-on. We like to make you feel our presence. That’s how we operate."

5. Play with poise: This is the most important point. Seattle is the more talented team overall, but the Seahawks must play smart and not get over-amped in the biggest game of their lives. Careless personal fouls and false starts can be the difference in the game, and too much emotion can cause a player to make a mistake he wouldn’t normally make.

Sherman
The Seahawks did a great job of controlling their emotions in the NFC Championship Game against the hated 49ers. Well, until the end when cornerback Richard Sherman went on testosterone overload after the game-saving play. But the game was decided at that point, so have at it.

The same is true in the Super Bowl. Play your game and don’t give the Broncos a freebie. Do what you did to get here.

"Respect the journey," said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. "But at the same time, enjoy the moment. Take it all in. It is real. Just be poised and respect the process. I’m going to play with a smile on my face and just go for it."

Good advice. If the Seahawks follow it, that should be enough.

The next big thing: Seahawks

January, 23, 2014
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RENTON, Wash. -- Obviously, the next big thing for the Seahawks is the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. Nothing else matters at the moment.

However, when the big game is over, the Seahawks have difficult contract decisions to make because they know a day of reckoning is coming when they will need to pay some star players big bucks in the near future.

It won't be this year, but soon for cornerback Richard Sherman and quarterback Russell Wilson. Sherman has one year left on a deal that counts only $690,000 against the salary cap next season. He will soon command a salary of well over $10 million a year.

Wilson will make only $662,000, next season, but after that, some big-time renegotiating is going to happen. And the day will come when the Seahawks will have to pay Wilson at least $20 million more per year than he's making now.

All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas also has only a year left on a deal that pays him $3.7 million in 2014.

So some maneuvering will be in order soon, and some players currently on the roster will have to move on because of salary-cap limits.

The immediate concerns are wide receiver. Golden Tate is a free agent who made only $880,000 this season. Doug Baldwin is a restricted free agent with a salary that counts only $560,000 against the cap. Can Seattle keep both of them and pay Percy Harvin's six-year, $67 million deal?

Maybe, but certainly not if receiver Sidney Rice stays. He has two years left on five-year, $41 million contract. It's unlikely he will return.

No doubt the Seahawks wish they had signed defensive lineman Michael Bennett to more than a one-year deal at $4.8 million. He won't be easy to keep after the sensational year he's had.

Seattle also must make a decision on starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, a free agent who counted $4.7 million against the cap this season.

RENTON, Wash. -- Never in Seattle Seahawks history has one man done so little and been talked about so much.

Percy Harvin will not play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. So what?

I’m not blaming Harvin, the multi-talented receiver who hasn’t been able to get healthy or stay healthy all season.

But the Seattle receivers have heard the same questions everyone else hears week after week. Will Harvin play? Can he make a difference? Can they win a tough game without him?

The receiving corps is sick and tired of it. They are up to their chin straps in Harvin questions and how he could make them better. It’s ad nauseam at this point.

Guess what? The Seahawks receivers, sans Harvin, are not The Three Stooges. You would think the team was using three guys at the receiver spots who were playing shuffleboard at a retirement community last week.

“We hear it all the time that we’re not worth squat,” receiver Golden Tate said this week. “But at the end of the day, we make the plays that we need to make to help us win. We’re playing in the NFC championship. You can’t do that without us.”

Don’t get the wrong idea. To a man, the Seattle receivers feel for Harvin. They understand what he’s going through. Doug Baldwin and Harvin have become close friends.

“It’s tough because we’re all close to Percy and we all love him as a teammate,” Baldwin said. “It hurts us to not have him out there on the field. We know how badly he wants to be out there.

“But like we consistently say, we have guys around [quarterback] Russell Wilson, weapons on the outside, that can make plays and that have been making plays all season long. I don’t think it’s going to be much of a hit, production-wise.”

Tate
Tate
Baldwin, Tate and Jermaine Kearse are proud men who have to be a little perturbed about the endless Harvin talk. They won’t admit it publicly, but they take it personally. This team, with these receivers, has won 14 games without Harvin.

That’s right, I said without him. Yes, he played sparingly in two games and showed his amazing skills, but the Seahawks would have won both those games without him. And they can win Sunday's without him. Tate and Baldwin, in particular, are on a mission to prove it.

Moments after announcing that Harvin wouldn’t play Sunday, coach Pete Carroll came to the defense of his receivers.

“It’s a really competitive group,” Carroll said. “They’re very athletic, clutch, tough, and they block well. They get after it. They do everything we need them to do. You never know which one of them is going to have a big game. And they can make the big catches at crucial times."

Baldwin
Look for them to make some more big plays on Sunday. Tate has enjoyed the best season of his career, catching 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season. He also is one of the league’s best punt returners, averaging 11.5 yards per return.

Baldwin caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. His ability to make acrobatic sideline catches in key situations was the difference in several games this season, including the playoff game last week against New Orleans. And Kearse has four TDs in only 22 receptions.

“I’m around these guys every single day,” Tate said. “I see the plays that they make every day. I honestly feel like if you put any of our receivers somewhere else, they would catch 90 balls and be well over 1,000 yards. But that’s not how this offense works.”

Kearse
The Seattle offense is centered on its power running game with Marshawn Lynch. They throw the ball far less than most NFL teams.

“The good thing about it is we’re all unselfish players,” Tate said. “We want to win, so we just do our jobs. We take a lot of pride in blocking for Marshawn, and when the big plays come, I feel like more times than not, we’re going to come up with the big ball.”

But you wouldn’t know it from all the talk of the savior, Mr. Harvin. Frankly, it’s become almost comical -- not that his injuries are anything to laugh about.

A week doesn't go by when I'm not asked at least 30 times if Harvin will play. It’s a question on every radio interview. Anyone who has anything to do with this team hears the Harvin questions every day. And it’s gotten tiresome.

Look, Harvin has worked hard to come back from major hip surgery in August. He now has a concussion issue to deal with, and it’s been frustrating for him, to say the least.

Sure, the Seahawks could use him Sunday. He could help them against one of the best defenses in the league. He could return kickoffs. He could be a spark to a passing game that has struggled in the past five games.

All of that is true. But what’s equally true is this team achieved the best record in the league this season and made it to the NFC title game -- without Harvin.

The receivers are a talented, underrated group who can perform at a level that enables Seattle to win this game, and the Super Bowl, whether Harvin takes another snap this season or not.

Seahawks keep cool at the right time

December, 30, 2013
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Golden TateAP Photo/Elaine ThompsonGolden Tate caught eight passes for 129 yards and passed on opportunities to taunt the Rams.
SEATTLE -- For most of the day, the St. Louis Rams-Seattle Seahawks game looked more like a mixed martial arts cage match than an NFL regular-season finale.

The Seahawks have a reputation of losing their cool in games when things get chippy, chirpy, feisty and ugly. This time, with everything on the line for Seattle, the players held back. The new level-headed Seahawks showed up just in time.

It was the Rams who lost their composure as the Seattle players, for the most part, kept calm and earned all their regular-season goals with a 27-9 victory at CenturyLink Field.

After losing two of the previous three games, the Seahawks needed to win the regular season finale to earn the NFC West title, a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage.

The Seahawks have next weekend off before playing either Green Bay, San Francisco or New Orleans, whichever winning team next weekend is the lowest seed.

But maybe the best thing for the Seahawks on Sunday is they won in convincing fashion, outplaying the Rams is all phases of the game, including the mental game.

The Rams officially were flagged 12 times for 87 yards, but had nine other penalties that were offsetting or came on the same play as another St. Louis penalty. Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford was ejected after he swung his arm and accidentally knocked off an official’s hat, then slammed his helmet to the turf after the ejection.

“That’s not football,” Seattle defensive lineman Red Bryant said of the Rams' aggression. “It was desperation. I don’t agree with their style of playing. They tried to pull us into it, but we did what we had to do. But it’s good for us to have a game like this before the playoffs, because the same type of thing could happen again.”

The Seahawks were flagged seven times for 65 yards.

“Thankfully, somebody got more penalties than us for a change," said linebacker Malcolm Smith, who scored Seattle’s first touchdown with a 37-yard pick-six in the first quarter. “We knew that was their style, but we stayed focused and didn’t get caught up in it.”

Even receiver Golden Tate, or “Tate the Taunter” as he is known in St. Louis, never made a wrong move. Tate is remembered for his “halt” hand gesture in St. Louis earlier this year on an 80-yard touchdown, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

But Tate was the calm, cool and collected star of the day, catching eight passes for 129 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown catch where he didn’t wave bye-bye or anything else.

“They popped me pretty good a couple of times today,” Tate said. “But I wasn’t going to let them get in my head. I was kinda locked in. I had a lot of emotion today.”

But controlled emotion this time, something that could benefit the Seahawks in the playoffs.

“Here we are, right where we want to be,’’ Tate said. “It’s a great feeling. I’ve seen this team evolve to where it is today. I feel like we’ve come together as one.”

The Seahawks (13-3) played one of their best games when they needed it most.

The defense was a virtual brick wall, holding the Rams to 13 yards rushing on 18 carries, a complete turnaround after allowing 200 yards rushing in the 14-9 victory earlier this year in St. Louis. Zac Stacy, who rushed for 134 yards in the first meeting, had 15 yards on 15 carries.

The Seattle offense sputtered early, but had an impressive 80-yard drive in the third quarter to take a 20-3 lead on a 2-yard run by Marshawn Lynch. It was Lynch’s best day in more than a month, rushing for 97 yards on 23 carries.

Despite four sacks, Russell Wilson completed 15-of-23 passes for 172 yards and the big TD throw to Tate.

“We were just so physical today on both sides of the ball,” Wilson said. “Everybody really clicked. The game was extremely chippy, but we did the right thing every time, despite everything going on around us.”

This was the game that proved how good the Seahawks can be. There were some doubts over the past three weeks.

Seattle was 11-1 after the 34-7 victory over New Orleans and looked unbeatable. But they lost the next week at San Francisco 19-17 and suffered their only home loss in two seasons last week to Arizona, 17-10.

This game, they looked more like the team that was 11-1 then the team that was 1-2 over the previous three weeks.

“We wanted to make sure we played with championship poise,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Our guys did a really good job of handling it the way we wanted them to handle it today.”

Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was proud at how his teammates responded Sunday.

“The Rams (7-9) had nothing to play for out there, so they were just trying to fight,” Wagner said. “But we kept out cool. Now the ultimate goal is within our reach.”

The players said they had some added instruction about how to handle themselves with so much on the line. NBA legend Bill Russell spoke to the team on Saturday.

“He said the will of man is stronger than anything you can believe,” said Seattle receiver Ricardo Lockette, who had two huge hits on special teams Sunday. “After that, we looked each other in the eyes and said, ‘We’re going to do this.’ We fought for each other.”

Seattle now is two home wins away from the Super Bowl.

“I’m just grateful to be a part of this team at this moment,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, we can do something special with it.”

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
7:35
PM ET

SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 27-9 victory against the St. Louis Rams Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

What it means: In an ugly game with constant chippy play, pushing, shoving and punching to result in numerous personal fouls (mostly on the Rams), Seattle reached all its regular-season goals with the NFC West title, a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. The 13-3 mark ties the team record for regular-season wins. Seattle now has won 15 of its past 16 home games.

Stock watch: After giving up 200 yards rushing in St. Louis earlier this year, the Seattle defense was a brick wall Sunday, allowing 13 yards rushing. Zac Stacy had 13 carries for four yards in the first three quarters Sunday. Stacy had 134 yards in the first meeting in the Monday night game against the Seahawks. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch had his best game in over a month with 23 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown.

Tate tough and tauntless: Receiver Golden Tate isn’t the most popular guy with the Rams after his taunting penalty on an 80-yard touchdown in St. Louis, but he was a big thorn in their side Sunday. Tate had eight catches for 129 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. He celebrated in the end zone, but didn’t taunt anyone.

Smith shines: Apparently, outside linebacker Malcolm Smith still was mad about not reaching the end zone on his interceptions last week. Smith had the big play at the start of the game with a 37-yard pick-six. He had a 32-yard interception return against Arizona last week, but was stopped at the 3. Smith is starting for injured K.J. Wright, another example of Seattle’s depth on defense.

Started the right CB: Walter Thurmond returned from suspension, but Byron Maxwell showed why he continues to start at cornerback. Maxwell had an interception in the second quarter. It was his fourth since taking over for Thurmond, who was suspended for substance abuse.

What's next: The Seahawks get next weekend off before hosting an opponent still to be determined.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle receiver Golden Tate knows he isn’t the most popular guy in St. Louis. And he’s OK with that.

The Rams and their fans won’t soon forget Tate waving goodbye to defender Rodney McLeod as Tate raced down the sideline on an 80-yard touchdown, a taunting move that cost the Seahawks a 15-yard penalty in the 14-9 victory at St. Louis this season.

Tate
Tate
Now the Rams come to Seattle for the season finale hoping to put a damper in the Seahawks’ playoff plans. Seattle can clinch the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs with a victory Sunday.

And Tate knows there will be plenty of trash talking both ways.

“Since I’ve been here, they’ve been a chirpy group,” Tate said of the Rams. “And at times, we can be chirpy, too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. We respect each other, but it’s hard not to talk a little bit with all the emotion we’ll see out there."

Tate, however, says he learned his lesson in the Monday night game in St. Louis.

“You get in trouble when you act like me and start to wave or draw more attention to yourself,” Tate said Tuesday. “But it’s always a fun game with them. After the game, I make sure I go up to them and say, “We’re keeping it on the field. Much respect and stay healthy.’ That’s the end of it.”

But Tate, who will play Sunday with a sprained left thumb, figures to hear a lot from the Rams and say a lot back during the game.

“I’m a talker,’ Tate said. “As a receiver, it’s what I use every other play. We’re competing, and they are out there trying to give concussions and tear ACLs, so there’s going to be some chatter.

“But I’m going to keep it within the rules. I won’t be waving bye as I’m running by them. I’ll just score a touchdown and get back in the huddle and try to score another one. I’ll stay away from the penalties.”
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had a difficult decision to make near the end of Sunday's game at San Francisco.

Should the Seahawks allow the 49ers to go ahead and score a touchdown, thereby leaving more time on the clock for Seattle on its final possession? Or do what they did and let San Francisco run down the clock to the final seconds before kicking what turned out to be the game-winning field goal in the 19-17 outcome?

What would you have done?

"That's a serious decision that you can make," Carroll said. "That's an alternative. We talked about it."

At the two-minute warning, the 49ers had second-and-goal at the Seattle 8, trailing 17-16. The Seahawks were out of timeouts. Frank Gore took a handoff up the middle twice for a 2-yard gain each time. Phil Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds to play.

Golden Tate fielded the kickoff at the 1 and returned it to the 16, where Seattle started with 21 seconds left. Russell Wilson threw a deep desperation pass that was intercepted by Eric Wright at the San Francisco 20.

Seattle could have opted to let the 49ers score (and take a 23-17 lead) and have a little less than two minutes on the clock to try to score a winning TD.

So the question is this: Was the added time worth having to score a touchdown instead of almost no time to get in field-goal position?

“That’s exactly the issue,” Carroll said. “It has to do with the time, but it also has to do with your offense versus their defense, your quarterback and all that. We have some factors that are pretty obvious.

"We know that our offense can go down the field in two minutes on anybody. You give us four plays to make a first down, we really believe we can get that done. Russell is great at it. Those are all of the considerations."

But Carroll isn’t second-guessing his decision.

“I was clear about it,” he said. "We decided to see if we could knock the ball out and stay with the principles of doing it on defense."

Carroll also had a question about doing it the other way.

“People have tried it, but has it worked?’’ he asked. “We don’t have examples in our history or in our backgrounds of any of the guys that we’ve been around. I don’t know if you guys can come up with any, where anybody has ever done that has worked. If it has, I don’t know.”

However, Carroll wouldn’t rule it out in a similar scenario in the future.

"It’s a possibility,” he said. "Yeah, that’s why it's one of the alternatives."

Harvin doesn't practice Thursday

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
8:10
PM ET
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin did not practice again Thursday, which brings continuing doubts about the chances of him playing Sunday at San Francisco.

Harvin
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Harvin would run on his own before practice Wednesday and they would evaluate where he was in terms in practicing Thursday.

Harvin made his season debut Nov. 17 against Minnesota but did not play Monday night against New Orleans because of soreness in his surgically repaired hip.

Linebacker Bruce Irvin, who has a thigh injury, also has not practiced this week, but Carroll said Wednesday that he expected Irvin to play this weekend.

Cornerback Brandon Browner, who was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, did not practice Thursday. Browner has a strained groin, but he is also awaiting word from the league in his appeal of a possible one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson missed practice because of an illness. Tight end Kellen Davis (strained neck) was limited.

Receiver Golden Tate and running back Marshawn Lynch returned to full practice participation.

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