Sunday’s overtime win over the Buccaneers saw Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson strengthen his MVP case with a five-touchdown, zero-interception outing that included a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.
But what Seattle’s 40-34 win also did was further establish the fact that Wilson has a couple of special weapons to throw to in his top two receivers, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. The Seahawks added a former All-Pro receiver in Josh Gordon via waivers late in the week, but the performances by Metcalf and Lockett showed that Gordon was more a luxury addition than one of need.
On a day when the Seahawks needed every big play and every score to overcome the Buccaneers, Lockett and Metcalf came up with a lot of them. Lockett, who manages to make at least a couple of impossible catches every week, had a career-high 13 catches on Sunday, good for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Metcalf, meanwhile, caught six passes for a career-best 123 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown that gave the Seahawks a late fourth-quarter lead, as well as a 29-yard catch in overtime two plays before the game-winning score.
Lockett, who now has 59 catches for 767 yards and six touchdowns, isn’t just on pace to have the best season of his career, but one of the best by a receiver in franchise history. If Lockett keeps up his current nine-game pace, he would break the franchise record for receptions in a season (94, Doug Baldwin and Bobby Engram) and yards (Steve Largent, 1,287). Lockett also now has 16 touchdowns since the start of last season, tied for the most in the NFL in that time.
“Tyler Lockett is ridiculous,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, “He’s so good. Thirteen catches today, a lot of tough things, and the variety of things he did, the touchdowns too. But just the amazing player he is, and he just continues to be marvelous to watch.”
Said Wilson, “Tyler has been special. He makes my job easy he's really, really good. He's as good as it gets. He just keeps showing up, keeps making play after play. There's nothing that that man can't do. So it's been a blessing just being his friend and it's been a blessing just playing with him. And he's just continuing to grow on and off the field, so it's been really cool.”
Contributing to Lockett’s big day was a Tampa Bay defense that played a lot of man-to-man coverage, which Wilson and Lockett were able to beat repeatedly.
“They continue to play man-to-man on us,” Carroll said. “We were hoping that was going to happen on this day, and we took advantage of the concepts that gave us the chance.”
And when the Buccaneers did find ways to cover Lockett, Metcalf came through with big plays, especially late in the game. After a quiet first three quarter, Metcalf came alive down the stretch, catching four passes for 106 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a 53-yard touchdown, two catches on a drive at the end of regulation that set up a game-winning field goal attempt, and the big 29-yarder that helped set up the game-winner.
“He was clutch,” Wilson said. “He was lights out, told him, ‘Hey, be ready, you may help us to win the game.’ And sure enough he did, and he was just lights out. Just tough catches, great speed, great acceleration, just running away from guys. He's been a star for us all year, so far, and hopefully we get to keep it that way.”
Carroll said it was the best he has seen Metcalf play, and just the start of what he thinks will be a big second half for the rookie out of Ole Miss.
“DK played great today,” Carroll said. “It was his best game he’s had. You know when he catches the ball on the crossing route, he’s gone. That was really exciting to see that. He’s going to be a big factor when we go down the stretch here.”
And while the size and speed are the obvious factors in Metcalf’s early success, what has really stood out to Carroll, Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks is the little things he does at a level higher than most rookies.
“He’s got the presence of mind,” Carroll said. “He’s a real competitor, he’s the real deal. We’ve been around enough young guys, we know what they’re like when they come through the process, he’s not typical. He’s atypical. He’s well ahead of the curve, in his smarts and awareness and savvy.”