As they put together the scouting report for Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions, the Seahawks staff most likely had at least one obvious warning.
“WR Golden Tate: It’s ‘Monday Night Football’ at CenturyLink, so if it comes down to a last-play pass into the end zone, somebody better be sure to defend this guy.”
Tate’s most memorable play in his four seasons with the Seahawks came in the CenturyLink north end zone in a 2012 Monday night win over Green Bay — the so-called “Fail Mary.”
On the controversial play, Tate may or may not have committed interference, and may or may not have gained possession of the ball. But it nonetheless counted as the touchdown that defeated the Packers.
Tate’s athleticism and big-play ability landed him a five-year, free-agent contract with Detroit after the 2013 season. Last year, he put up big numbers (99 catches, 1,331 yards) in the Lions’ pass-reliant offense.
On Monday, Tate will be a target for Matthew Stafford, the strong-armed quarterback of the winless Lions.
The comments about Tate from former Seahawks teammates this week were complimentary and cordial.
“He’s an exciting player who makes a lot of plays; he had a great career here,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “He’s played great football for the Detroit Lions and he’ll continue to do that.”
Safety Earl Thomas faced Tate every day in practice, and said Tate was part of the kind of “fiery” competition that is typical when the Seahawks offense and defense clash.
“Tate is a great competitor,” Thomas said. “I watch him on film and I kind of miss him a little bit. He was a great part of a lot of success we had early on. He has great body control. We understand how they want to use him. We’re just going to try to rally and track him the right way.”
Tate drew criticism this week when he commented that opponents could tell what plays the Lions were going to run before the ball was snapped.
Thomas didn’t think there was much to that.
“I don’t really know what’s coming,” he said. “It’s more of me seeing it and letting it unfold on its own. I don’t go up there with a certain expectation of what’s coming.”
In contrast to Tate’s migration to Michigan, defensive end Cliff Avril is a former Lion — for five seasons — who is in his third season with the Seahawks.
Any special motivation when playing the old team?
“No, not really, for the simple fact that it’s not even the same coaching staff,” Avril said. “(It’s) just another game; happy to be playing them on ‘Monday Night Football’ in our stadium.”
Avril was part of the winless 2008 Lions team, and has since enjoyed the success of the Seahawks in back-to-back Super Bowl seasons.
He gave an obvious answer when questioned what he learned from the 0-16 experience.
“You learn you don’t want to experience it again,” he said. “Or else you’ll get fired. I was a rookie, just trying to find my way, just trying to get on the field and make plays. Trying to not be the reason why (they were losing). You want to try to be some kind of bright spot for the following year.”
Avril has once again been a bright spot for the Seahawks as he leads the team with five quarterback hits.
“For me, it’s just to keep grinding and keep getting better and keep making the plays I’m supposed to make and getting after the quarterback,” Avril said.
He’s been gone long enough that he sees no advantage from his familiarity with the Lions.
“I know (Stafford) is a heckuva quarterback,” Avril said. “I’m going to try to make my presence felt as much as possible.”
RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring), DT Brandon Mebane (groin), DE Demarcus Dobbs (shoulder), CB Tharold Simon (toe), S Steven Terrell (hip) and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday. Pierre-Louis missed Thursday, as well, but was listed as having a knee problem. Of most significance, starters Lynch and Mebane were said by coach Pete Carroll to be game-time decisions.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440