The temptation is to say Seattle’s final exhibition game turned out to be a Golden opportunity.
But that would be corny, and a little misleading. Seahawks receiver Golden Tate has been given plenty of opportunities as a second-round pick. The difference was that in Friday’s exhibition game against Oakland, Tate took advantage of just about every one of them.
The Seahawks beat the Raiders 20-3 at CenturyLink Field, a result that will be forgotten quickly. It was Tate who reminded everyone of his playmaking potential as he prepares for his second season in Seattle.
He caught a 43-yard pass on Seattle’s second possession, which resulted in a field goal. He returned a kickoff 34 yards in the second quarter and ran back a punt 43 yards later in the period.
“I felt like I made some plays,” Tate said. “I needed them bad. I hadn’t really done anything since I’ve been in the league so I needed to make some plays.”
For the first time this season, the Seahawks offense didn’t produce widespread civic concern. The pass protection was adequate, the Seahawks scored 10 whole points in the first half, including Seattle’s first first-half touchdown of the exhibition season. While starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had a pass intercepted in the opponent’s end zone, squelching a first-quarter scoring chance, he completed five of the other six passes he attempted before giving way to backup Charlie Whitehurst after two possessions.
The Seahawks didn’t gain more than 30 yards on one play in any of their first three exhibition games. They had two in the first half Friday: a 43-yard pass to Tate and a 32-yard reception by Leon Washington on a pass intended for Tate, which was deflected by a Raiders cornerback.
The Seahawks did suffer two potentially significant injuries, though. Left guard Robert Gallery and defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson each suffered a sprained knee. They must be evaluated further, but it’s possible their availability for Week 1 could be affected.
The story of this game wasn’t the final score, though. It was Tate.
All that speculation about Tate not making the team’s 53-man roster? Forget it. He was likely safe anyway. Now the question is whether this was the turning point for Tate.
He had not played well during Seattle’s first three exhibition games. He was benched for a quarter in Seattle’s second exhibition game after failing to catch the first two passes thrown to him — one a clear drop that resulted in an interception. He didn’t appear until the second half during the Seahawks’ third exhibition game last Saturday in Denver.
Through three exhibition games, he had caught four passes for 24 yards and was in danger of being passed on the depth chart by Doug Baldwin, an undrafted rookie out of Stanford.