Seahawks CB Tre Brown got his opportunity, then changed the game in 2 plays

DETROIT — Tre Brown just wants the opportunity to show who he is.

He’s been in and out of the Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback rotation in varying capacities since joining the team as a fourth-round pick in 2021. He’s been a starter. He’s been a backup. He’s been in a game of midseason musical chairs.

Offseason injuries to first-round rookie Devon Witherspoon and Riq Woolen temporarily put Brown back in the starting lineup to open the 2023 season, but it was only a matter of time before he’d be on the bench in favor of a 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year finalist and the highest draft pick of the Pete Carroll era.

The sideline is where Brown found himself to start Seattle’s Week 2 showdown against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The Seahawks finally fielded their preferred outside cornerback duo: Witherspoon on the left, Woolen on the right. But that pairing lasted just one full drive before Woolen suffered an upper-body injury early in the second quarter on a tackle in the flat.

In came Brown, given an opportunity he’d been waiting for, to atone for some of the mistakes made in Seattle’s season opener and achieve his goal of proving to himself that, as he put it, “I’m one of the best corners in the league.”

The plays he made Sunday in Seattle’s 37-31 victory will surely strengthen that belief.



Seahawks show resilience at perfect time to rebound in Detroit: ‘Just picked each other up’

Brown’s first significant contribution won’t show up in the official gamebook. It was fourth-and-4 from the Seattle 31-yard line in the second quarter. Goff’s first read was a slant to receiver Kalif Raymond, but Brown had it locked up. Goff was forced to scan and throw at tight end Sam LaPorta, and that pass was swatted by Witherspoon.

Brown’s only first-half target was a last-second heave to receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown that picked up 39 meaningless yards before half (Brown also forced a fumble at the end of it). His first real attempt to impact the passing game didn’t come until early in the fourth quarter when the play call came in and presented the chance to blitz.

It was a first-and-10 dropback from the 40-yard line with Detroit trailing by three. The condensed formation meant Brown could blitz if safety Julian Love gave the green light, which he did. Brown flew in, engaged running back Craig Reynolds, beat him with an inside move and dropped Goff for a loss of 5 yards. It was Seattle’s first sack of the season.

“I seen it, went off the edge, seen the running back, went for it,” Brown said. “I was like, ‘Damn, he’s kind of holding me up a little bit. I gotta get back home.’ So, I make the tackle, but then all I know is I’m getting up hoping Goff still got the ball in his hand. Then I see Goff still had the ball in his hand and I get up and celebrate.”

On the next snap, Goff threw an inaccurate pass well behind running back Jahmyr Gibbs on an angle route, as Uchenna Nwosu had beaten Lions right tackle Matt Nelson and hit Goff’s arm. Brown took it 40 yards to the end zone and flexed in front of Detroit’s hostile crowd to give Seattle a 10-point lead.

“I ran toward the fans and I was just looking around like, ‘Wow, it’s crazy what one play can do to a whole stadium that’s electric when you’re on the opposite team,’” Brown said. “I was able to take that in and just realize what I did for my team.”

It was Brown’s first regular-season interception and Seattle’s first of the season. It also ended Goff’s streak of 383 consecutive passes without an interception. Brown played 53 snaps Sunday and completely changed the game on two of them.

“I was excited for him, man,” Witherspoon said. “I knew he could make those plays. We needed that game-changer, that momentum turn. He made a hell of a play. Shout out to my dog Tre Brown, for sure.”

Those are the plays Brown expects to make. They’re the types of plays he made at Oklahoma and at the Senior Bowl. They’re the types of plays he makes in practice; Brown was the only cornerback to record an interception in one-on-one drills during the training camp practices open to the media. He was also the only Seattle player to intercept a pass in the preseason.

Those plays are also why the season opener was so frustrating. Brown missed a tackle that led to an explosive reception. He also got tangled up with Love in man coverage and allowed a 44-yard catch. He wanted a chance to bounce back in Week 2, but Witherspoon’s debut meant Brown would have to go back to the bench. Brown spent the week just staying mentally ready, knowing at moment’s notice he could be called on to play either cornerback spot.

“As a young guy, I’m pretty sure that’s extremely tough mentally,” middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “To be locked in all week and come in when his number is called and make a big play to change the game, I’m extremely happy for him.”

Woolen didn’t return to the game due to what was announced as a chest injury. Carroll said after the game that Woolen banged his shoulder. When asked to clear up any confusion, Carroll, while pointing to his own chest area, said, “It’s something right here, whatever that is.”

“I don’t know anything,” Carroll said when asked about the severity of Woolen’s injury. “I just know it’s sore right there. He’ll be OK. We’ll figure it out.”

If Woolen has to miss Seattle’s Week 3 game against Carolina, the Seahawks are plenty confident in Brown. His performance Sunday, coupled with Witherspoon flashing a bit in his first game, further illustrated that Seattle essentially has four starting-caliber outside corners (including Michael Jackson, who played well last year). Brown’s goal is to be one of those starters.

One way to achieve that with all four outside corners healthy would be to start Woolen and Brown on the outside and Witherspoon at nickel, which Seattle basically uses as its base defense. That lineup would slide current starting nickel Coby Bryant down the depth chart, but Brown has performed well enough over the last month and a half for the Seahawks to at least consider that type of setup. After all, the staff’s goal is to put the best 11 players on the field as often as possible. Brown has been showing he can be one of those 11 when given the opportunity.

“Everybody wants to write you off when things don’t go as planned in some games, but it’s a long season, and I know what I’m about,” Brown said. “I believe in myself. I lean on God. We’re not finished yet. I’mma still prove who I am.”

(Photo: Todd Rosenberg / Getty Images)

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