RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Drops.
A problem that has plagued Seattle's wide receivers in the past has not been an issue throughout most of the 2011 season. The one time it was a problem was in the Seahawks' first meeting against the San Francisco 49ers in October. The two teams meet again this Sunday night in Seattle in a key NFC game.
According to STATS LLC, the Seahawks have the fifth-fewest drops in the league this season. Through 14 games Seattle has just 19 drops. The San Diego Chargers have the fewest with 15. Last year, the Seahawks were tied for 14th with 27 drops on the season.
Golden Tate was targeted three times against the 49ers and didn't make a catch. It was the only game this season when Tate didn't have a reception. Both of Tate's drops this season came against San Francisco. With Seattle holding a 6-3 lead, Tate bobbled a third-down pass that would have kept the chains moving into San Francisco territory early in the third quarter.
Backup running back Robert Turbin broke free behind the 49ers' defense in the first quarter for what would have been a big gain and possibly a touchdown. But the pass slid through his fingers.
In a game decided by just a touchdown, the missed chances proved costly for the Seahawks. If Seattle wants to end the 49ers' four-game winning streak in the series, it can't expect to overcome the same mistakes this weekend.
Tate said his zero catch performance and the loss to the 49ers were tough to move on from.
"For me it was tough. The last time we played them was a Thursday night game, so we had the whole weekend to think about it. Had a little time off, so it was frustrating to think about it. I was ready to get that one out of my system for the next week," Tate said.
"I want to be a player that we count on — a consistent player more importantly. Really I've just been trying to be consistent. That game I showed inconsistency."
Quarterback Russell Wilson wasn't fazed and never showed outward frustration over the inability of his receivers to hang on to the football.
"He's not going after anybody, he's not going to get bothered by it, and he's just going to go to the next play," head coach Pete Carroll said. "He really believes that something is going to happen there. It's easy for him in essence because his mindset is so strong, so that doesn't affect him at all."
Wilson was just 9 of 23 for 122 yards and an interception against the 49ers. His 38.7 passer rating against San Francisco is his lowest mark this season. Yet Wilson doesn't see the point of dwelling on a missed opportunity.
"There's times where you're like, 'Oh man I wish he caught it' ... You have emotions but the key is staying even-keeled as possible, I think," Wilson said.
"I let the receivers know I'm coming right back to them. You don't think that they're not going to catch the next one, so you've got to keep playing."
Seattle's offense has greatly improved since the initial meeting in October. Wilson has a passer rating of 111.3 over the seven games following the loss to the 49ers. Wilson has thrown 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions and Seattle is 5-2 since then.
With the Seahawks able to clinch a playoff berth with a win, they are looking forward to judging how far they've come in the last seven weeks. For Tate, it's a chance to finally wash the bad taste from his mouth.
"We didn't play our best game the last time we played them, so to get another chance in such a crucial moment of the season is going to show everyone everything they want to know," Tate said. "We're definitely excited about it."