It’s been a couple of weeks since the Seahawks released wide receiver Sidney Rice (#18). The Gaffney, South Carolina native was coming off a surgery from an ACL knee injury suffered against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 of the 2013 season. Rice played a total of 3 seasons with Hawks, starting in 2010 after being signed as highly touted free agent. Rice’s time in Seattle was riddled with injuries. In 3 seasons, he played a total of 33 games catching 12 touchdowns. He’s leaving with a Super Bowl ring on his hand.
Upon reflecting upon his tenure in Seattle, there are two plays by Rice which altered the course of Seahawks history and helped define the team of today. If Rice doesn’t make those plays, who knows where the franchise ends up.
“Play fake. Wilson buys time. Stands strong. Throws deep down the middle. Gotta man out there! Sidney Rice! He’s under it, he’s good. Touchdown Seahawks! Holy Smoke! Unbelievable, Sidney Rice from 46, a beautiful rainbow from Russell Wilson between two defenders” ~ Steve Raible, October 14, 2012
It was Week 6 of the 2012 season, and Tom Brady was coming to Seattle to play the Seahawks and the 12th Man for the first time in his career. The Patriots played in Seahawks Stadium in 2008, but Brady was inured that season. It was a matchup against the NFL’s #1 offense (Patriots) against the #1 defense (Seahawks). The big bad Pats and Bill Belichik were picked by the national media to destroy the Seahawks.
It was Russell Wilson’s sixth game as professional. The game was physical and hard fought. The Pats were up 20 to 10 with five minutes left in the 3rd quarter when Richard Sherman intercepted a pass from Brady. The Hawks fought their way back into the game, and the stage was set for some last minute fourth quarter heroics. A big catch by Golden Tate (#81) set up a touchdown throw from Wilson to Braylon Edwards (#17). The score was now Pats 23 to17 with seven minutes left in the game.
The Legion of Boom (LOB!) held the Pats and forced them to punt the ball with 2:48 left. Wilson snapped the ball mid-field near the Seahawks logo and threw a sexy deep ball to Rice who had gotten behind all the defenders. Rice caught the ball scoring a touchdown to tie the game and then take the lead with the extra point. It was a defining moment for the team that season. Underestimated, but yet they still succeed.
The Hawks defense would go on to stop the Patriots on a 4th down and 17 to secure the win.
The stage was set for cornerback Richard Sherman to put his name and the Seahawks in the national spotlight by putting the NFL’s golden boy Tom Brady on blast via Twitter.
Before the post-game interview discussing 49er wide receiver Michael Crabtree with Erin Andrews in the NFC Championship game, there was the post-game interview discussing Tom Brady.
“You’re just a man, we’re a team”~ Richard Sherman
Sherman unloaded on Brady and called him out. I remember listening to this interview live as I was making my 3 hour trek back home. I loved it! (Listen to the interview here)
This Seahawks team had attitude and swagger like no other Hawks team before. They were afraid of nobody. The national outcry was as expected. Who was this guy Richard Sherman to speak badly about Brady? And how dare the Seattle Seahawks act so brazen, especially against the Patriots?
Russell Wilson would later go on to tell John Clayton of ESPN that the Patriots game was the turning point for him personally and for the team. The win got the team clicking and showed that Coach Carroll believed in Wilson.
Without that touchdown catch by Sidney Rice, none of this happens.
“Our quarterback is a bad man. You know? And Pete and those guys are geniuses.”~Michael Robinson, December 2, 2012
It was Week 13, and the 6-5 Seahawks were struggling when they headed to Soldier Field to face the 8-3 Bears. Their season was on the line. It was a tough game for the Seahawks, to include some suspect calls from the officials.
Wilson would show off his 4th quarter heroics again by throwing a touchdown pass to a tackle bustin’ Golden Tate (#81). The play gave the Hawks the lead and the apparent win with a score of 17 to 14 with :24 seconds remaining on the play clock. Jay Cutler would throw a bomb to Brandon Marshall which set up a tying field goal, sending the game into overtime.
The Seahawks won the coin toss (thanks to back-up quarterback Matt Flynn), and Wilson took the game over. Again. He was unstoppable running the zone read option. Bears linebacker Brian Ulacher’s career ended that day chasing Wilson around Soldier Field.
Wilson drove (willed) the team to the 13 yard line and threw a dart to Rice on the 2 yard line. He was blasted by a Bears defender as he crossed the goal line with the ball. Rice’s body went limp as the official raised his arms signaling a touchdown. It appeared as if a sniper from the 300 level shot him in the temple. Check out the call by the voice of the Seahawks, Steve Raible.
The Hawks win 23 to 17. Check out the highlights here (note the smart ass comment at the 2:20 mark about Golden Tate’s catch scoring a touchdown with real referees on the field, not the replacement officials).
After that win, the Hawks would go on a historic offensive explosion. In Week 14, they demolished the Arizona Cardinals 58-0. The following week in Toronto, Canada they punk’d the Buffalo Bills 50 to 17. Then they went on to bitch slap the 49ers on Sunday Night Football 42 to 13. This run secured the Hawks a Wild Card playoff berth against the Washington Redskins.
The Hawks would beat the Redskins and then travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. They lost to the Falcons after overcoming a 20 point defecit in the 4th quarter. That game planted the seeds for the Super Bowl 48 victory. Iron sharpens iron.
If Rice doesn’t catch and hold on to that pass against the Bears, who knows the outcome of the game would have been? This was another defining moment for the team.
Rice & the 12th Man
Rice was always generous to the 12th Man. This past summer he went to Switzerland to have a procedure for his knee. During his short visit in the land of chocolate and St. Bernards, some 12’s in Zurich tweeted him and extended an invitation to attend a BBQ and play Madden. Rice took them up on their offer. Imagine that!
For Super Bowl 48, Rice gave away a single game ticket to the big game via twitter. The winner was a 12 school teacher from Windham, Connecticut.
Best of luck to Sidney Rice. I look forward to him raising the 12 flag sometime in the far future.