By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Playing in front of more than 100 family and friends, Seattle’s go-to receiver Sidney Rice finally emerged as an important part of his team’s game plan against Carolina.
Rice grew up in Gaffney, S.C., about an hour south of Charlotte. The South Carolina product finished with a game-high five receptions for 67 yards.
Four of Rice’s catches were good for first downs. Rice came into Sunday’s contest with just 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown through the first four games.
“Sidney’s been terrific,” Seattle head coach Pet Carroll said. “Every game he’s made big plays and big catches. The one over the middle where Russell (Wilson) hung him out there a little bit, that was a great play for him to hang onto the football.
“He’s playing terrific football. We’re just not getting him the ball a lot. But when we call on him he’s making things happen.”
Rice said he appreciated being more involved in the offense, particularly at the beginning of the game.
“It was great,” Rice said. “Like I said before, we’re there as receivers. We’ll be there when they call our number — I have no doubt about it. We just got more opportunities today, and we took advantage of it.”
Along with Rice, three other receivers finished with at least three catches, including tight end Zach Miller (3-for-59), Doug Baldwin (3-for-37) and Golden Tate (3-for-31).
Tate also had a 56-yard catch nullified because of a holding penalty by offensive tackle Breno Giacomini.
“There are still a lot of things we can work on,” Rice said. “The penalties are a huge part of what is holding us back. Once we can eliminate the penalties, we will be hard to stop.”
Carroll finally put his foot down after watching another half of costly penalties.
Giacomini served as the example for the rest of the team, when he was pulled from the game at the end of the first quarter after his third personal foul penalty in two games, negating an 11-yard run by receiver Ben Obomanu.
Earlier in the game, Giacomini had been called for a hold on Tate’s 56-yard reception, bringing back that big play.
“I had to sit him down,” Carroll said. “We’re talking so clearly about the issues that are coming up with these penalties. I’ve been with him and on him since OTAs (organized training activities). But it showed up again. … But we had to sit him down just to make the statement that you can’t keep doing stuff.”
After sitting out a series, Giacomini returned to the game, under strict orders by Carroll not to have another penalty, or he would be benched again. Giacomini made it through the game without another yellow flag thrown his way.
Entering Sunday’s game against Carolina, Seattle was tied for the league lead in penalties with 37.
Marshawn’s beastly run
Although Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch finished with just 85 yards on 21 carries, 11 of the most important yards came with the Seahawks backed up on their own goal line, taking over on downs after Carolina’s failed fourth down play.
On third-and-7 from Seattle’s own 4-yard line, Lynch bulled his way through Carolina’s defense for 11 yards with 2:58 remaining to be played and Seattle up 16-10, giving the Seahawks some breathing room and allowing them to burn more clock.
“His run to knock us off the goal line was a huge play for us by the guys up front,” Carroll said. “To give us the clock and the opportunity to take the safety and all of that stuff, with not much time left, that was really fantastic effort there, too.”
Added Red Bryant: “Marshawn is a guy that I know, speaking for myself and the defense, we feed off of. Because that’s the type of mentality that we’ve got. We’re going to find a way.”
The Seahawks had to punt from their own 18-yard line with 59 second remaining. But rather than risking the possibility of Carolina blocking the punt, Carroll had punter Jon Ryan run out of the back of the end zone and take a safety.
“I said let’s kick it from the 20 with a free kick opportunity and see what happens,” Carroll said. “Because so many things can go wrong, and the pressure of the rush and all of that. And the we knew the differential was fine, so he could be contacting the ball at the 20 instead of the six or something.”
Of course, Seattle long snapper Clint Gresham’s delivery was a little high, creating some extra tension that Carroll could do without.
“No, that was just one drama of the fifth note today,” said Carroll with a smile.
Cornerback Brandon Browner and linebacker Bobby Wagner led Seattle in tackles with six apiece. … Carolina rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the Panthers with 11 tackles.