By Brady Henderson
Doug Baldwin was looking forward to picking up where he left off last season, when he led the Seahawks in receiving as an undrafted rookie.
Hamstring and shoulder injuries changed those plans.
After a slow start in which he caught just four passes during Seattle's first four games, Baldwin has five receptions for 111 yards the last two weeks. One of those receptions gave the Seahawks their first touchdown in Sunday's come-from-behind win over the Patriots.
Doug Baldwin caught his first touchdown pass of the season in Seattle's win over New England on Sunday. (AP)
Baldwin was sidelined for much of the preseason with a hamstring injury. He played in the regular-season opener and made two catches for five yards. He couldn't hang on to what would have been a tremendous diving catch in the end zone on Seattle's final drive. When he landed on the turf face-first, the impact broke two of his front teeth, requiring four hours of dental work.
Baldwin made just one catch the next week against Dallas, then missed the Monday night game against Green Bay due to a shoulder injury he sustained in practice. He was able to play against St. Louis, but again had just one catch.
Baldwin's totals through four weeks: four catches, three injuries and plenty of disappointment.
"I don't like to make excuses but that stuff happens and I had so much expectations coming into this season for myself, just being able to play well and stay healthy and stay on the field, and things just didn't go right," he said.
"It definitely takes a shot to your confidence, and then obviously not being able to play for most of the preseason because of the hamstring injury I didn't have my legs underneath me. I'm just now starting to feel that and get back to where I need to be."
Both of Baldwin's catches on Sunday came on the Seahawks' second possession. The first was a 50-yard bomb on third-and-9 that kept the drive alive. Four plays later, Baldwin slipped coming off the line of scrimmage and fought off a jam from a Patriots cornerback before making a leaping 24-yard catch in the end zone.
It was one of several impressive plays turned in by Seattle's receivers, a group that had drawn some of the criticism for the team's passing issues earlier in the season.
"I would like to think that we have that capability to do it week in and week out," Baldwin said. "I don't think it was just a coming out party. I think it's just a sign of things to come from now on into the future."
Next up for the Seahawks is a Thursday night matchup with the 49ers. The game should carry some extra meaning for Baldwin, who played for Jim Harbaugh and other 49ers coaches at Stanford. Two of Baldwin's four touchdown receptions last season came against San Francisco.