Seahawks notes: Healthy Rice makes big difference

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

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SEATTLE — One of the keys to the Seattle Seahawks’ first victory of the season Sunday was the return to action of receiver Sidney Rice.

Rice, who was signed by Seattle as a free agent during the offseason, had missed the first two games with an injury. He returned to catch eight passes for 109 yards in a 13-10 win over Arizona at CenturyLink Field.

“Sitting on the sidelines wasn’t getting it done at all,” said Rice, who in 2009 had 83 catches for 1,312 yards for Minnesota, before suffering through an injury plagued 2010 season. “I was happy to be out there, and happy to be able to contribute to a win.”

Rice spent his first four NFL seasons with the Vikings, along with new Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

They both signed with Seattle on July 29, shortly after the end of the NFL lockout.

Jackson said: “It felt comfortable. Obviously, we have a little history, so I have more of a background with him.”

Aside from Rice’s receptions, Seattle’s offense ran 57 plays for a total of 152 yards.

Ryan’s ups, downs

The winner of the Roller Coaster Award on Sunday was Seattle punter Jon Ryan, who averaged 44.8 yards on eight kicks. That average falls into the “numbers can be deceiving” category.

The yardage for Ryan’s punts: 28, 57, 45, 45, 66, 64, 9, 44.

The 9-yard kick came with three minutes to play and the Seahawks clinging to a 13-10 lead.

Seattle had the ball at the Arizona 40-yard line, and Ryan appeared to be trying to angle the kick toward the corner near the end zone. He missed by about 30 yards.

To his credit, however, Ryan also had three punts that pinned the Cardinals inside the 20, and none that went into the end zone for a touchback.

‘D’ cleans up bad punt

Following his 9-yard punt, Ryan was bailed out by the Seahawks’ defense.

Arizona drove to the Seattle 36 before Kam Chancellor intercepted a short pass over the middle with 1:04 to play.

Arizona forced another punt, but had to use all of its timeouts in the process and was unable to mount a threat once it got the ball back.

McCoy’s play saves day

He didn’t have any catches or even have a ball thrown his way, but tight end Anthony McCoy was singled out by coach Pete Carroll as making the play of the game.

Early in the fourth quarter, Seattle was facing a third-and-5 play when Jackson was unable to haul in a high snap from the shotgun formation. The ball rolled behind him, and McCoy managed to beat everybody to it and fall on it.

“My first reaction, I heard the crowd,” McCoy said. “I heard a lot of ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ — and then when I turned around, I finally saw the ball and just jumped on it.”

It doesn’t get any easier

Since opening the season with a victory over Carolina, Arizona has lost 22-21 to Washington and 13-10 to Seattle.

“It’s hard for me to talk about positives right now when you lose a close game like that,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s just tough.”

Fitzgerald fizzles

Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald had five catches for 64 yards and one spectacular touchdown in which he outjumped defenders Earl Thomas and Brandon Browner for the ball.

But he did not have any catches over the final 33 minutes of the game, and it’s no coincidence that the Cardinals were held scoreless during that time.

“He’s just one of those guys — he’s an awesome player,” Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant said. “You always have to know where he is. I give it up to the D-line. If the quarterback doesn’t have time to get him the ball, that’s the best coverage.”

Home, sweet home

Since the start of the 2009 season, including the playoffs, Seattle is 11-7 at home and 3-16 on the road.