ST. LOUIS — Ball extended in front him, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate used his other hand to begin waving at the only defender who had a chance to catch him Monday night.
Tate had just made a wonderful adjustment to catch a deep but underthrown pass from Russell Wilson. Once he left Rams defensive back Janoris Jenkins behind, he began his taunting.
As he motored up the left side of the field toward the end zone, on a night the Seahawks did little on offense, he had officials throwing flags before he was 20 yards from scoring.
Tate, despite all the taunting, made it into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. His first was a mere but crucial 2 yards on a third-and-goal play. His second was 80 yards with 3 minutes, 56 seconds to go in the third quarter, more than doubling the Seahawks’ meager first-half output of 38 yards.
Three referees threw flags for unsportsmanlike conduct during the catch and run. Tate’s teammates approached him to tell him great play, but that was no way to handle himself.
The realization he screwed up during what turned out to be the winning score settled in for Tate before he made it to the sideline. An 80-yard score usually leaves Seahawks coach Pete Carroll with his fist in the air. Instead, his face was tight with irritation.
Tate said he was dreading the pending conversation.
“That has nothing to do with our football,” Carroll said. “That’s not the way we want to play, that’s not the way we want to present who we are and all that.
“I think he’s more mature than that. He’s a playful, wonderful, spirited guy who had too much fun at the wrong time.”
The phrase Tate kept restating was “lesson learned.” He said there was a lot of “chirping” throughout the evening between the Rams’ secondary and the Seahawks’ receivers. That led to the showboating once he knew he had skewered the Rams for the biggest play of the night.
“That won’t happen again,” Tate said. “My emotions got to me. I knew I had nothing but field (ahead of me) … I let my emotions get to me. That’s one thing Coach Carroll does a great job – no matter who we play, don’t let your emotions get too high or too low.
“I let mine get too high. I let them get in my head. I guess, they won in that instance.”
The practical problem with Tate’s penalty was it put speedy St. Louis return man Tavon Austin in position to return a kickoff, something rarely done in the NFL after rule changes moved up kickoffs to the 35-yard line. The increase has drastically reduced the number of returned kicks and upped touchbacks.
But, kicking off from the 20-yard line would give Austin a chance.
Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka bashed the ball 74 yards on the kickoff and Austin fielded at the 6. Heath Farwell took him down 27 yards later at the St. Louis 33 and the Seahawks’ sideline, particularly Tate, exhaled.
“Kind of washes away a fantastic football play,” Carroll said.
“I’ve got to act like I’ve been there before,” Tate said.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice left the game in the second quarter after hurting his knee and head. His return was announced as doubtful and he did not make it back into the game.
“He got his knee banged a little bit and got hit in the head, too,” Carroll said.
When asked what that meant going forward for Rice, Carroll said, “I don’t know.”
Rice left training camp in early August to have a knee procedure in Switzerland to help him with patellar tendinitis.
Rice had one of his better games of the season Oct. 19 against Arizona when he caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
He had zero catches Monday night.
SHERMAN WILL BE FINE
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said he took a “rib shot” in the second half that had him momentarily crumpled on the field.
He got up and jogged off, sat on the bench and chatted with trainers. Sherman didn’t miss any playing time and said he would be fine.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was back on the field after missing two weeks because of a high ankle sprain. … The Seahawks were 2-for-11 on third down. … Seattle ran just 40 offensive plays.