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Catching up for lost time
Matt Hasselbeck is blowing Mike Williams’ cover.
More than a few eyebrows were cocked in April, after Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reached into his past to sign Williams, the former first-round draft choice who wasn’t even in the league the past two seasons. But those same brows are now raised, as Williams is the leading receiver on the team that is leading the NFC West.
Williams caught 11 passes for 87 yards and the Seahawks’ only touchdown in their field goal-fueled 22-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field on Sunday. Last week, it was a 10-catch, 123-yard performance in the upset of the Bears in Chicago.
That’s 21 receptions for 210 yards in two games, and 32 for 348 yards six games into the season.
All this from a player who never caught more than 29 passes or had more 350 yards during his first three seasons in the NFL – and those came in 2005, as a rookie with the Detroit Lions.
“I had heard different things,” Hasselbeck said when asked what had surprised him most about Williams. “He’s a really hard worker. He’s always at the facility. He’s a smart player and all that. But he really is a hard worker.”
If he had his druthers, Hasselbeck would rather not talk about Williams – wanting to keep him as the Stealth receiver in the passing game. You know, out of mind, hopefully out of sight when it comes time for the opposition to comprise their game plan.
“I’m trying not to talk about it too much, because I don’t want people to know,” Hasselbeck cracked.
If they didn’t know last week, they’ll definitely know this week. Even Hasselbeck had to admit, “I think we’re done sneaking up on people with that situation.”
But William’s production doesn’t tarnish his story, it only enhances it. The guy has gone from out of the league to the talk of the league.
“One of the guys that showed up today that was really special was Mike,” said Carroll, who also coached Williams at USC. “I thought that Mike Williams played a great football game. He just didn’t make some tough catches, he made a couple of great catches today.”
One was his TD grab, as he somehow got his hands on the pass from Hasselbeck and still got his feet down along the edge of the end zone. Another was a 16-yard grab on third-and-1, as Williams twisted his body and reached back to make the catch.
“He played tough, he played physical and he came through in a big way,” Carroll said.
Williams also attracted quite a crowd in the locker room after the game. But rather than pound his own chest, he pounded home the points that the defense is helping the offense and the still-improving running game is helping the passing game.
“It really comes down to you never know whose number it is (that’s going to get called),” he said. “You never know where that ball is going. I had a couple catches today that we repped in practice and the ball didn’t go there all week. But in the game, it came.
“If you just keep working, Matt’s a vet and he’s always right. So you just try to make the plays for him and try to make the plays for the offense and give the defense as much rest as possible.”
And as Hasselbeck has shown, if you make one play another one will be in the way.
Williams’ touchdown catch was his first since the 2006 season, and came after he said during the week that it was all about touchdowns. What emotions came with that catch?
“I just wanted to celebrate with my team,” he said. “I didn’t have any dance, or anything like that planned. I just wanted to really celebrate with my team. Tyler (Polumbus, the left tackle) and those big guys came over and that’s what was more important to me.”
Out of the league last year. Showing he belongs in the league this year.
“It’s funny how things change in the time frame that they change,” said Williams, who can’t even remember what he was doing at this time last season.
“I’m blessed and I’m just trying to make the most of my situation and my opportunity. I give it up for these guys in this locker room. Whatever happens, I’m happy.”