Dispute caps strange day for Seahawks' Baldwin

Staff writersDecember 22, 2013 

SEAHAWKS

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin watches the replay board after a dropped pass was ruled an interception for Arizona late Sunday.

TONY OVERMAN — Staff Photographer Buy Photo

Sunday was a strange day for Doug Baldwin.

He made just one catch for eight yards, his lowest output since Oct. 28. He ended up returning kicks for the first time since his rookie season in 2011. He was also part of a strange interception call that ended Seattle’s final drive on the first play.

Russell Wilson threw a dipping pass toward Baldwin on first-and-10 from the Seattle 26-yard line with 2:13 remaining in the game. Baldwin dived, extended his right arm, and never had a real chance to catch the ball.

It took a strange bounce into the air. Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby caught it, and then settled to the ground at the Seattle 47-yard line. Arizona was then able to run out the clock after picking up a first down.

Replays were murky enough that officials concluded after review a lack of “indisputable evidence” with which to overturn the call.

“I think it simultaneously hit my arm and hit the ground,” Baldwin said. “I know the ball hit my arm. But at the same time, the only way for it to ricochet up the way it did, it had to hit the ground. I know how the impact of the ball hit me and I saw it. There’s no doubt in my mind it hit the ground. But, the game doesn’t come down to that play.”

Baldwin returned two kicks Sunday after Robert Turbin fumbled on consecutive returns. Baldwin averaged 28.5 yards in his first returns since his rookie season.

Baldwin also lamented missed chances Sunday while crediting the Arizona defense. He said Arizona’s approach was distinctly different than when the Seahawks won in Arizona on Oct. 17.

“They disguised their coverages,” Baldwin said. “I was honestly having a difficult time in the slot reading their coverages.”

Wilson said he had a clear view of what was going on.

“I could tell exactly what they were doing and the preparation that we had all week, I knew what they were trying to do,” Wilson said. “That’s something that we’ll have to try to figure out, if anybody was having any problem figuring out their coverage. I don’t think it was a problem. We could have made some big plays on them, we had some opportunities, and for whatever reason, we were just a little bit off.”

TURBIN’S FUMBLES

Coach Pete Carroll had said Turbin was returning kicks because he protected the ball well.

Not on Sunday.

Turbin put the ball on the ground twice. The first fumble was reviewed and he was ruled down prior to losing the ball. The second time, Turbin’s knee came up and hit the ball, jolting it loose from his arm. Arizona recovered at the Seattle 15-yard line.

Richard Sherman’s second interception of the day bailed out Turbin. But, he was done returning kicks for the day.

“Bad ball-handling on my part,” Turbin said. “I’m disappointed about it because I’m usually so in tune with the ball. Whenever I run, my main focus is the ball before anything else.”

Carroll stopped into the locker room after his press conference to ask Turbin what happened and tell him to keep his head up.

TA’AMU RETURNS

Sunday marked a happy homecoming for Kent native and former Washington Huskies defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu, now with the Cardinals.

“It’s always good to come back home — especially when you’re here to make everybody mad,” Ta’amu said from the happy visitors locker room. “To come home and just be like the major underdog and come out and prove people wrong, I like that a lot.”

Ta’amu has 13 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and two quarterback pressures this season.

Last week, he went in for two offensive plays in Arizona’s win over Tennessee, both times leading Rashard Mendenhall in for scores.

“They couldn’t deny how fast I was,” the 348-pound nose tackle said before laughing. “Naw, it’s just more opportunity for me to get out there and play. Whatever the coaches feel I can do, I’ll go out there. … It’s fun.”

Ta’amu checked in once with the offense on Sunday, but he was subbed out as the formation changed before the play. His two offensive plays last week marked his first appearances at fullback since his days at Rainier Beach High School.

“In high school, whenever we were up by 30, the coaches would throw me in there,” he said.

From Rainier Beach, Ta’amu went on to Washington before being selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. He failed to make the Steelers’ roster this season, and was picked up by the Cardinals. Now, he seems happy with how that worked out.

“No question,” he said. “My second chance in Arizona is just being able to come out here and play. I consider this a blessing.”

A COUPLE DINGS

Left tackle Russell Okung injured the same toe he hurt in Week 3, an injury that kept him out until Week 11. Okung left the game Sunday, but later returned.

Also, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse hurt his ankle Sunday.

EXTRA POINTS

The Seahawks are the only team in the league not to allow a point on the opponent’s opening drives this season. … Sherman has 16 interceptions during the past two seasons. That’s the second most-during a two-year span in franchise history behind Kenny Easley’s 17 in 1983-84. … Safety Earl Thomas has a career-high 98 tackles this season. … Golden Tate is 72 punt return yards short of Nate Burleson’s franchise record of 658 set in 2007.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com; don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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