Rookie Safety Saves the Day

SEATTLE'S PLAYMAKER
November 29, 2004

Seahawks safety Michael Boulware may be a rookie struggling to learn a new position, but he knows plenty about making big plays. His latest--a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute against the Dolphins on Sunday--turned a potential defeat into a 24--17 victory and moved Seattle back ahead of the Rams and into first place in the NFC West.

The Seahawks had planned to make the 6'3", 223-pound Boulware their starting strong safety after selecting him in the second round of the April draft because he had displayed exceptional speed and athleticism as an outside linebacker at Florida State. But Michael, whose older brother Peter is a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Ravens, struggled to learn defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes's system in training camp and never seriously challenged Terreal Bierria for the starting job. Instead, he has played mostly in nickel packages and on special teams.

However, limited playing time hasn't kept Boulware from making an impact. He is tied for the league lead in interceptions among rookies, with four, and three of those have helped seal victories for the Seahawks. His third-quarter pickoff in the opener against the Saints set up an insurance touchdown in a 21--7 win. The next week Boulware intercepted a Bucs pass at the Seattle 15 with 1:11 left in a 10--6 win.

Playing their first game under interim coach Jim Bates, the Dolphins were poised to pull off a major upset on Sunday. They had rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit and had a first down at the Seattle 41 when Boulware stepped in front of an A.J. Feeley slant pass. "That dude is so blessed, it's ridiculous," Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander said. "He's always in the right place at the right time."

COLOR PHOTOMIKE URBAN/SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER/AP (BOULWARE) TURNING THE TIDE Boulware rescued the Seahawks with his last-minute interception return.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)