DK Metcalf soared over defenders and ahead of previous NFL and Seahawks franchise record-holders in Sunday's Wild Card win at Philadelphia. Unfazed by the intensity and magnitude of his first NFL playoff game, Metcalf caught seven passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in a spectacular performance that elicited the admiration of his teammates and lifted the team back into the NFC Divisional Playoffs for the first time since 2016.
"I don't think there's words to describe the level he played at," said Tyler Lockett. "He took advantage of all his opportunities. He really did great in those one-on-one matchups. The way he played was fantastic and we definitely needed that."
Metcalf set an NFL rookie record for most receiving yards in a playoff debut, breaking a 10-year old mark set by former Eagle Jeremy Maclin. He also sailed past Darrell Jackson's Seahawks playoff record for most receiving yards in a game (143), which was established in 2005. It was the best game of Metcalf's rookie year so far, outdistancing his six-catch, 123-yard and one TD outing vs. Tampa Bay on Nov. 3.
No one in the postgame locker room seemed more excited for Metcalf than David Moore, who said no one should be surprised at how Metcalf came through with his best game so far in what has already been a very impressive rookie season.
"Just look at him. Nobody can hold him, we'll just leave it at that," Moore. You should have known he was going to come out here and do something.'
Moore indicated that Metcalf wanted to "redeem himself" after catching three passes for 35 yards in the Seahawks first trip to Philadelphia this season on Nov. 24. Metcalf certainly did put that performance behind him, with two significant plays that will be long remembered in Seahawk postseason lore.
The first was a 53-yard TD reception on the Seahawks' first drive of the third quarter that pushed the team out to an 11-point lead after Philadelphia had trimmed their deficit to four points.
"Russ laid it out. I look up, I saw it was in front of me, so I just stretched out and caught the ball," Metcalf said. I didn't feel like I got touched, so I just got up and stretched out for the end zone."
Metcalf's second signature play of the game clinched the victory for the 'Hawks. With 1:47 remaining on a third-and-10 from the Seahawks 11-yard line, Russell Wilson put the ball up to Metcalf between two defenders, and he hauled it in for a 36-yard gain that officially put the bow on the NFC Wild Card victory.
"It was an awesome play by him," Wilson said. "We went over the top and DK made an unbelievable play. I just wanted to make sure he got his hands on it. That could have been another touchdown for him. But I just wanted to make sure we caught it in that situation and let the clock run."
Metcalf said that Wilson has been encouraging him consistently to win on those types of plays.
"All year he has been telling me don't let the ball come down, don't let the ball come down. That's all I was thinking. Just attack the ball. It's just amazing that he believed in me just to throw it up to me in that situation," Metcalf said.
Head coach Pete Carroll made it clear that Metcalf was ready to deliver this type of performance based on how he has played all season leading up to the postseason.
"He's always picked things up. He's never stumbled or staggered his way through it. He's been a great learner and he's been a great worker. He takes his work very seriously. He practices really seriously. He stays late all the time. He's always working on his things – on his technique, on his principles," Carroll said. "That was a huge game obviously, but he's been playing good football all year."
Sunday's historic outing seemed like a natural progression to the next level of stardom for Metcalf when you consider some of the numbers he compiled during the regular season. He caught 58 balls for 900 yards, finishing second all-time in franchise history in those categories for a rookie. He ranked second among all NFL rookies in receptions, and third in yardage.
Yet despite all the promise he displayed entering his first playoff game in the pros, Metcalf came into Philadelphia on Sunday not awed at all by the spectacle and increased importance of the matchup.
"It's really no different than the regular season pretty much. I wasn't trying to change anything, just continue to play our style of football," he said.
In fact, Metcalf said he wanted to play a prime role in leading the Seahawks into the NFC Divisional Round.
"The way the season's been going, this team, you know I didn't want this to be our last time playing football," he said.
Lockett said that Metcalf had the "right mindset" coming into the game, and developed that demeanor all on his own without any counseling from the veteran. Metcalf was clearly ready for the big playoff stage, and his heroics inspired all of his teammates, even those on the other side of the ball.
"It fires us up, especially the big plays he's making," Quinton Jefferson said. For their defense it's demoralizing, but it energizes us."
Metcalf walked into the postgame interview room wearing a hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with the album cover of the iconic Beatles album cover from Abbey Road. He, Wilson, Moore and Tyler Lockett certainly looked the part of a Fab Four on Sunday, and now take their tour to Green Bay next week. This week, Metcalf was a hit-maker for the Seahawks. As Wilson said, the first-year WR continues to make sweet music even at a time of year when other rookies may have started to fall off.
"He's just been doing a great job and, more importantly, as the season has gone on, some people hit the rookie wall [and] there's no such thing for him. He's stayed the course and he continues to get stronger," Wilson said.
So the Seahawks now look to advance again, with their ultra-talented rookie WR as a driving force. But for now, Lockett said, there must be some time to reflect on and appreciate Metcalf's tremendous outing in the Wild Card Game.
"That's something we cherish as a receiver group, just being able to celebrate our brothers," Lockett said.