The pregame jersey, a Steve Largent throwback, was an homage to one of the greatest players in Seahawks history, but by the end of the day, rookie receiver DK Metcalf would have his named mentioned in the same sentence as Largent’s for more reasons than a sartorial choice.
Metcalf, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, got the start in his NFL debut, a 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and responded with four catches for 89 yards. That marked the most receiving yards by a Seahawks rookie receiver in a debut, surpassing Largent’s 86-yard outing in his first game in 1976.
Metcalf didn’t just put up good numbers, he showed the ability to make plays in a variety of ways, catching a pass on a slant, turning a short pass into a 16-yard gain, getting open deep for a 42-yarder, and making a tough 25-yard catch over the middle on a scramble drill. Metcalf also drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone to set up first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, leading to a Chris Carson touchdown run. About the only blemish on his night were a pair of penalties, one for offensive pass interference and one for holding, both of which were declined.
“It was a good opener for him, other than the penalties; he did fine,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He made some tough plays. (Russell Wilson) got the ball to him on a couple. The big bomb and the one down the middle. I don’t know how to explain that pass, but it was a great grab for him under duress. That’s a really good start for him. He’s ready to go."
Metcalf’s big debut was made all the more impressive by the fact that he missed the final three preseason games due to a knee injury and had knee surgery only three weeks ago.
“He’s pretty comfortable playing now,” Carroll said. “He’s doing fine, and that’s a great start for him. You can see why we are fired up about him.”
Metcalf’s first big gain, a 42-yarder down the left sideline, was a good demonstration of how his combination of size and speed make him so dangerous. Despite good coverage, Metcalf was able to use his body to get position on Bengals cornerback William Jackson III and make the catch.
“Coach Carroll talked to me before the game and said, if the ball’s in the air, it’s mine,” Metcalf said. “So just having that mentality. I’m already big enough, so just going up and trusting my technique and my work, that’s pretty much all it is.”
And if that play highlighted Metcalf’s physical skills, the 25-yard catch on a Wilson scramble highlighted the understanding he has of his quarterback and the offense despite being a rookie. When the initial play broke down and Wilson scrambled, Metcalf broke off his initial route, found an open spot, then made a tough catch despite a hit over the middle.
“The play broke down, I saw Russ about to scramble so I just turned up field, and we made eye contact,” Metcalf said. “He had enough trust in me to lob it up, and I had to just go make a play.”
Said Wilson: “I stepped up and kind of slid, and sure enough—he's on a slant route on the back side—and next thing you know, he saw me moving so he turned it upfield. His understanding of the game is up there…. His knowledge of the game, he's really sharp. He's played a lot of football. He's going to keep growing. It's just one game. You've just got to stay the course.”
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' regular season opener of 2019 against the Cincinnati Bengals.