There were simple economics at play.
Part of his lack of production was because he was still rounding into form after sitting much of the preseason. But part of it was because he didn’t have many opportunities, which were reflected in his stats: three catches for 48 yards on eight targets in two games.
Rice blew away by those numbers in Sunday’s 45-17 thumping of Jacksonville. He was targeted seven times and hauled in five passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, including one in which he beat double coverage.
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“You can’t have your eight-million-dollar guy not getting targeted,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “You’ve got to get him the ball. That’s what we pay him for, and you saw it. He did a hell of a job making plays when opportunities came to him.”
He wasn’t the only receiver who took advantage of more opportunities.
Golden Tate, Seattle’s No. 2 receiver, entered with five catches and 70 yards on eight targets. And he, too, blew past those numbers against the Jaguars, hauling in five passes for 88 yards on eight targets. He also had two rushing attempts for 29 yards.
Tate had five catches or more in three games last year, including the playoffs, but many viewed him as a breakout player in training camp. The way he dissected Jacksonville in a variety of ways — he also averaged 8.3 yards on four punt returns — looked like what many envisioned.
“I’m still growing as a player, still growing in this offense, still proving myself,” Tate said. “But I think today was definitely a positive step.”
Baldwin said Seattle made it a focus to get Rice and Tate more involved this week, but how it happened was pretty simple.
Former Seattle defensive coordinator and current Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley knew the key to slowing the Seahawks was stopping the run. He geared his defense to do that, but there were two problems.
First, Seattle still rushed for 156 yards and averaged more than four yards per carry. Second, by focusing so much on the run, Jacksonville left Seattle’s receivers and tight ends to run free in the secondary. Rice and Tate took particular advantage.
“We feel like, when we get one-on-one coverage with those guys, they should make the play,” said backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. “And that’s what we got going today. That’s why I felt our offense took off a little bit more.”
And that meant big days for the explosive Tate — he made one leaping catch over a defensive back down the sideline — and the now-healthy Rice.
|Sidney Rice and Golden Tate had their most productive games of the season against Jacksonville, combining for 10 catches. They were involved in all four pass receptions in a drive at the end of the first half that ended with Rice catching an 11-yard touchdown pass to give Seattle a 24-0 lead.|
|Sidney Rice||5 receptions, 79 yards, 2 TDs|
|Golden Tate||5 receptions, 88 yards|
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org