By Brady Henderson
Golden Tate shed three tackles and avoided two more before diving into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown against Chicago on Sunday, a play that Pete Carroll was asked about during his conversation with "Brock and Salk" on Monday.
"That's not even an unusual play for him," the Seahawks coach said. "He just can do that kind of stuff, so it's a really an exciting time for us."
You can forgive Carroll for his understated assessment. After all, he's seen Tate make similarly spectacular plays during what has become a breakout season for the third-year wide receiver.
It's been a breakout season for Golden Tate, who had a career-high 96 yards receiving and the go-ahead touchdown in Sunday's win over the Bears. (AP)
About two seasons, actually.
Tate, a second-round pick in 2010, didn't do much in his first season, which included an infamous doughnut shop incident, a Week 1 benching and just 21 catches for 227 yards.
He caught 35 passes for 382 yards and three scores the following season, with 24 of those receptions coming over the final eight games. Despite the strong finish, the two-year totals where underwhelming.
Tate, by his own admission, was relying too much on his athleticism, figuring that would make up for undisciplined route running and an overall lack of attention to detail.
Carroll said it's often not until a receiver's third season until he realizes that won't cut it.
"The marvelous athleticism and the natural ability that so many of these kids have, it gets in the way sometimes of the discipline that it takes," Carroll said. "Right now we have a fantastic football player in Golden. He is creative, he's really though, he's got tremendous hand-eye coordination and sense, he's got great confidence, too."
Through 12 games, Tate has 35 catches for 486 yards, ranking second in both among Seahawks receivers. He's tied with Sidney Rice for the team lead in touchdowns with seven. Those totals put him on pace for 47 catches, 648 yards and nine touchdowns, which isn't bad at all for a No. 2 receiver in a run-first offense.
Twenty-two of his receptions and four of his touchdowns have come since Week 7, when Tate struggled in a loss to San Francisco.
The numbers only tell part of the story, however. You can debate the legitimacy of the touchdown catch he made to beat Green Bay, but there's no denying that he's shown a knack this season for highlight-reel plays.
His upside-down flip into the end zone against Minnesota and the leaping grab he made over a Jets cornerback are among his most memorable touchdowns. He didn't score on his 32-yard reception last week against Miami, but that one might take the cake as far as degree of difficulty. He's even thrown for a touchdown, hitting Rice with an accurate spiral.
"It took us time to get him where he could contribute and we could count on him. But now I can't wait to throw him the football and see what he's going to do next," Carroll said.
Tate has never shied away from the reality that his career got off to a slow start.
"It's been a tough, long journey for me and I'm glad I'm finally meeting the expectations that this organization and the coaching staff had for me," he told "Bob and Groz" on Monday. "It took a little longer than we all expected – including myself – but better late than never, right?"
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby share more thoughts on Tate's emergence in the video below.
You can listen to Monday's podcast here.