SEATTLE — Nick Gates stepped on the field Sunday afternoon at Lumen Field and played in an NFL game for the first time in 410 days.
Gates, the popular 26-year-old offensive lineman, in Week 2 last season was playing left guard when his left leg got tangled up with other players and he went down with a fractured fibula and tibia, injuries that required seven surgeries to stabilize. In the spring, he encountered a setback in his recovery and had to have the titanium rod holding his leg in place replaced.
Gates’ first snap came with 5:51 remaining in the second quarter, coming in along with guard Jack Anderson in the jumbo blocking package with the Giants on the Seattle 1-yard line. Gates did his job, sealing off Bruce Irvin as Saquon Barkley scored. Gates, on the ground, celebrated. That pulled the Giants even at 7-7 in a game they would lose, 27-13.
“It was a special moment, definitely,’’ Gates said. “Just surreal for a little bit.’’
Barkley certainly noticed how Gates made getting into the end zone just a little easier.
“That story is amazing,’’ Barkley said. “What he’s been through, the way that he worked, that he never gave up, the attitude he had, I’m really happy for that guy. We’ve been together from the beginning of our career and to see him get back on the field means the world.
“He’s the comeback player of the year, in my mind.’’
In the second half, Gates came in repeatedly as an extra blocker, reporting in as an eligible receiver.
“Definitely was a good feeling to get out there with the team and be out there with the guys,’’ Gates said. “It sucks we lost. But a little moral victory for me. Everything felt good, everything felt strong and solid. I feel ready.’’
Safety Xavier McKinney seemed to take the loss hard.
“There’s a lot of things we didn’t do well and there’s a lot of things I didn’t do well, as a play-caller and a leader of the team,’’ he said. He called his missed tackle on Kenneth Walker’s 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter “very critical.’’
Coach Brian Daboll will have the players in on Monday and then give the team the rest of the week off for the bye. … Rookie LB Micah McFadden, who has played sparingly on defense since early in the season, beat rookie LT Charles Cross in the first quarter to drop Geno Smith for a 7-yard loss, giving McFadden the first sack of his NFL career.
CB Nick McCloud earned an on-field promotion for this game, as he was used as the nickel corner on defense. … DL Nick Williams, a valuable reserve, went out in the second quarter with a biceps injury.
Richie James left with a concussion in the fourth quarter after he took a big hit from Travis Homer, a blow that caused a fumble that was recovered by the Seahawks. … Late in the game, referee Jerome Boger announced that a penalty for sideline interference was on the “Seattle Mariners.’’
Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, discarded as a journeyman backup for his entire career, won this game for Seattle. He finished 23 of 34 for 212 yards with two touchdown passes and no turnovers. On the Seahawks’ go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, he went 5-for-5 for 75 yards, including the 33-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett as the climax to the drive.
Giants punt returner Richie James lost this game for the Giants, fumbling away two punt returns, the second with 6:04 remaining and sealed the game for Seattle. In the second quarter, James was hit and fumbled the ball away, leading to a Seattle field goal and a 10-7 lead.
Both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf entered the game as question marks, Lockett with hamstring and oblique ailments and Metcalf with a patella injury. Both played, Lockett catching five passes for 63 yards, scoring the go-ahead TD, and Metcalf catching six passes for 55 yards.
11:15: That’s how much time was remaining in the second quarter before the Giants recorded their first first down of the game.
“When you put it into perspective, last year we were 1-6 at this point, 1-7? So, we still have accomplished a lot this first half of the season and now it’s going to be a race. The second half is going to come down to nut-cutting time. You’ve got to lock in, shake this off, enjoy the bye week, get rested.”
— Giants safety Julian Love
This story originally appeared on NYPost