Drew Lock arrived at Lumen Field Monday afternoon uncertain if he would be playing or spending his evening on the sideline in his usual role as Geno Smith's backup.
He ended his night as the hero of a thrilling 20-17 Seahawks victory that ended the team's four-game losing streak and kept them in the thick of the NFC playoff race.
After making his first start in two seasons with the Seahawks last week, Lock said after a loss to the 49ers that he was trying to balance the disappointment in the loss with the excitement of finally getting to see significant playing time for the first time since 2021.
This time around, it was unabashed joy for Lock, who along with the rest of the offense overcame a sluggish start to finish off the game with a 10-play, 92-yard drive in the final two minutes of the game, capping it off with a beautiful throw to rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba for the 29-yard game-winning touchdown.
"That was a lot of fun," Lock said. "I mean, it was more than fun. I can't find the right word for it right now. It was a blast. One of those classic NFL games."
Asked about the emotions he was experiencing after the game, Lock said, "Thousands of things. We'd be here all night to talk about them all. I think it was just the over-the-top feeling of you don't get very many moments, you don't get very many opportunities in this league. With every opportunity you get, you need to be as ready as you can be, because you don't get a ton of them. For us to come out tonight and play the way we did and get a win, one of two opportunities I had this year to start, I was excited. I was emotional. I was emotional for myself, but I was emotional for these guys in this locker room. It's been a rough couple weeks. We needed a win to pull us back, get our spirits back up. That's what we did here tonight as a team. We did it as a team."
As Lock noted, it was a full team effort, from the play of the offensive line and the Kenneth Walker III-led running game, to the bigtime plays made by his pass-catchers, most notably DK Metcalf and Smith-Njigba on the final drive, to the way the defense came up with big stop after big stop in the second half. But it's hard to imagine anyone on the 53-man roster or Seattle's coaching staff would have any problem with heaping a little extra praise on the quarterback who led the winning drive.
After playing well last week in a loss to the 49ers, Lock spent all week uncertain if he would start, or if Smith would make it back from his groin injury to play on Monday. Smith was limited in practice all week and was questionable on the injury report, then after going through a pregame warmup, he was declared active for the game. But as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll explained it, Smith was active, but not fully healthy, so the decision was made to go with Lock, who had done more in practice during the week, and have Smith available just in case.
"Drew took most of the plays during the week," Carroll explained. "We really tried to save Geno as much as we could, not overexpose him because it's been such a short span of time since the strain. We went out tonight to see could he play if we needed him to play in the workout. He looked really good in the workout. That was the one taxing workout that we put him through. We knew we could dress him. If we needed him, we could go to him, in hopes we wouldn't have to, so we could buy him another week of healing. It was really too soon. It was a tough decision. It was as hard as can be on Geno. We got him all the way to the point, then say no. Dress, be there if we need you, we will go with the other player, see if we can make it to the next week. We'd be very hopefully that would happen, Drew would be able to practice next week, prove it, really secure his opportunity to play. He's going to do it in his brain. He's a frickin' warrior. We just got to make sure he gets the reps."
Lock eventually got word that he was starting, and while the offense got off to a slow start thanks to a pair of false-start penalties and a first-down run that went for a 6-yard loss, they went on to score on four of their final seven possessions, including two second-half touchdowns. And while Lock's final stats weren't eye-popping—he finished 22 for 33 for 208 yards and a touchdown—what he did do was play a turnover-free game, then cap that performance off with a masterful final drive.
Following a stop by Seattle's defense, the Eagles punted and pinned the Seahawks at their 8-yard line with one timeout and 1:52 left on the clock. Trailing 17-13, only a touchdown would get the job done, and Lock and company were up to the considerable challenge. Lock followed an incomplete pass on the first play with an 18-yard completion to DK Metcalf to get the drive going. He then hit Fant for 5 yards and Metcalf for 6 more, then after a pair of incompletions, Lock lofted what might have been his best pass of the game deep down the right sideline, a ball DK Metcalf secured in traffic for a 34-yard gain. After two more incompletions, Lock saw Smith-Njigba split out wide facing one-on-one coverage, and he knew where the ball was going before it was snapped. The rookie receiver, who already had a game-winning touchdown earlier this season against Cleveland, beat cornerback James Bradberry, then extended for a fingertip grab that gave the Seahawks the lead with 28 seconds left on the clock.
"Drew played a fantastic football game for us and did a beautiful job," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "DK came through in the last drive and other times in the game. Tough plays, really difficult plays. He made them, other guys might not make. Then the throw and catch to Jaxon, I haven't seen the good looks of it yet. I know from what everybody's comments were, that's the guy that's going to make that play, make that catch, he's just that good. For him to have that opportunity, for Drew to put the ball on him, Shane (Waldron) to call it, guys to protect. So many gorgeous things that happened there football-wise that gave us a chance to get ahead there at the end."
Carroll went on to refer to Lock's play on that final drive as "Beautiful football. Just beautiful football. The poise we talked to you about last week. That's where he's been. He's been on it. He's been in command. There's a couple incompletes in that drive, came right back and hit it, converted and made the first downs and all to throw the football to win the game. Amazing stuff. He would be the first to tell you about the guys around him. The offensive line did a great job tonight running the football, pass pro, did a great job against these guys, gave us a chance. I mean, we couldn't ask more from him in that game tonight."
"I'm so thrilled for the kid. First off, it's a memory you're never going to lose. He's going to hold onto this Monday night forever. He earned it. He deserved it. He played up to the great moments in the game and came through. It's been hard. It's been hard for him. Anybody that has the brain of a starter, brain of a championship kid, it's difficult as heck to have to wait. So he's had to do it. But he had his chances. Almost put together a game good enough last week. Then this week he did the whole thing. It was amazing," Carroll said.
Lock's performance rewarded the confidence Carroll has shown in him throughout his two seasons in Seattle. Whether it was when Lock and Smith were competing for the starting job last summer, with Smith eventually prevailing, or when Lock re-signed this offseason knowing it was to be a backup, or when it became clear Lock might be needed last week, Carroll has done nothing but build up Lock's confidence, both behind the scenes and in his comments to the media.
That confidence Carroll has instilled in Lock has "gotten me back to being more of me, more of who I am, and that's the confident guy who will go out there and sling the ball around," Lock said. "He gives me full confidence to go be exactly who I am. And he preaches that all the time, 'Don't be more than who you are, just go out there and be you, because you're here for a reason. We want you here on this team.'"
And it was no surprise that one of the players celebrating the most with Lock after that winning touchdown was Smith. From when they were competing for the starting job through this past week when it was uncertain who would start, Smith and Lock have consistently been each other's biggest supporters, and that was the case once again Monday night as Smith cheered Lock on from the sideline.
"That's like an unsung hero in these last two weeks," Carroll said. "The encouragement he's given me, the pep talks here and there, helping in the film room. It was cool when roles flipped, I was going to have to be the starter, he was doing the same thing for me as I was trying to do for him. That's just an unselfish dude in there. I appreciate him more than words can describe. Talking to me before the two minute, You're the best player on this field, you're going to lead us down this field right now, go get it done, things like that. It's really cool. This is a special quarterback room, including Sean when he came in here the last couple weeks. Savvy vet. Knows a lot about ball. It's really comforting having him in the room. Just awesome."
Check out some of the best action shots from Week 15 vs. the Philadelphia Eagle at Lumen Field on December 18, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.