Carolina Panthers rookie safety Tre Boston gave up his biggest play of the 2014 season on the 26th snap of his career.
In Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks, Boston allowed the game-winning 23-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Luke Willson to help the Seahawks to a 13-9 win against the Panthers.
A fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, Boston admitted Tuesday, four days before Saturday’s rematch against the Seahawks in the playoffs, that it took him a couple of days to get over the play.
“The players helped me get over it,” Boston said. “The first thing, Coach (Ron) Rivera walked up to me and said, ‘It’s going to happen. You’re in the NFL now. Everybody makes checks and everybody gets their checks the same way, by earning it.’
“I wanted to be down on myself. It was my first time getting scored on in the NFL, I think it was one of my first times being out on the field really. I wanted to take it real personally because that hurt me. But they told me get away from it. I think that’s helped me be successful.”
On first-and-10 from the Carolina 23 with 53 seconds left, Willson lined up beside the right tackle. Boston was the cover safety 8 yards downfield when Willson got a clean release and started down the seam.
Boston safeguarded against Willson taking an out route, but instead Willson kept running past Boston, who Tuesday said he wouldn’t change anything about the way he played Willson.
“It was a great throw and great catch,” Boston said. “There’s nothing I would do different. Just get the ball out of his hands.”
Boston tried to rip the ball away from Willson inside the 5, but the tight end held on into the end zone. Rivera said he was fine with Boston’s technique, but he would have liked the rookie to diagnose the play sooner so that Willson wouldn’t have rushed by him.
“I thought for the way he reacted and what he saw, he did it the right way,” Rivera said. “I do think though, as a young player, you start to develop a feel for the way the route was run and what the quarterback was trying to do as the cover safety. He understands those things, he’s learned those things and I think he’s gotten better.”
Boston has started every game since Week 13 and hasn’t allowed a big play like Willson’s in that time. He’s had two interceptions in the past two games, including an 84-yard return for a touchdown against Atlanta in Week 17.