KANSAS CITY—After Trevone Boykin hit Tanner McEvoy for a 37-yard touchdown on the final play of the game, and after Troymaine Pope scampered into the end zone to give the Seahawks a 2-point conversion and an improbable 17-16 victory in their preseason opener against the Chiefs, players rushed onto the field to celebrate as if Seattle had won something far more significant than a mid-August preseason game.
A few minutes later, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll would deadpan, "Routine preseason victory" to open his postgame press conference, but kidding aside, Carroll sees value in the way Boykin led his team on a four-play, 88-yard drive in the final 1:07 of the game to steal a victory, and he also liked that his team, even veterans who have played in two Super Bowls and earned All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors still got excited about the way the backups finished the game.
The way Carroll sees it, there's something to be learned from showing resilience and coming back to win, even if the results don't matter in the standings.
"It took us a long time to get going, obviously, but we hung in there," Carroll said. "It's really nice to have a chance to win a game at the end like that and then do it. There will be games all season long that will threaten to come right down to the wire, and the more experience you can have in those games, the better. So I was really thrilled to see our guys come through and get that done.
"There's a lot to learn right there. Just keep hanging. There's no time left on the clock, and we've got a chance to win the football game, there isn't anything better than that. Bud (Grant) used to say, 'Just give me a chance to win the game on the last play of the game.' That's pretty true, and when you believe, good stuff happens. That'll be helpful if we build that mentality going forward. We can play so much better, we didn't play a great football game, but we got done some very special stuff at the end."
For Boykin, the drive capped a promising, though at times uneven performance in his first preseason game. The undrafted rookie made some impressive throws, showed off his speed, and most importantly went four for four for 88 yards on that final drive, but as both he and Carroll pointed out, Boykin also had some correctable pre-snap issues he'll have to work out this week.
"I thought he looked pretty good," Carroll said. "He looks like he has been looking. He's a very active football player. I thought he moved well, he was poised. He made a couple of mistakes on formations in crucial situations—we were backwards on the call. Twice that happened, and it hurt us on a crucial fourth-down play. But we'll clean all that stuff up. He's doing a very, very good job of understanding what we're trying to get done, but he's going to make some pup mistakes. We'll play him a lot in the preseason and get that stuff ironed out… He's got a great arm, he's got a lot of confidence, it's the kind of stuff that could make him a very effective guy coming off the bench."
Boykin, who played most of the first half after Russell Wilson played one series, then came back into the game to replace Jake Heaps in the fourth quarter, had a similar assessment of his performance.
"Anytime you get a win, I feel like you leave a good impression," said Boykin, who finished the game 16 for 26 for 188 yards. "As a rookie, obviously you're going to make some mistakes—there were some things we missed today, there were things we can go back and correct—but I'm thankful, man, I'm happy to be here."
In fact, that final touchdown was a play where things could have gone better before the snap.
"We were trying to get to a formation that wasn't right, and we had no timeouts left," Boykin said. "I looked up at the clock, it was eight seconds left, I got to a play that would get us in the end zone, and Tanner made a great catch."
Added McEvoy, who also had a 32-yard catch on that final drive: "We messed up on the formation, so we wasted some time and realized it was our last play, so we just basically ran a Hail Mary."
And of course, having a 6-foot-6 target on a desperation heave into the end zone never hurts.
"I'll take my chances with a 6-6 guy in that situation no matter what," Boykin said.
For Boykin, who is competing for the backup job with Heaps, it is perhaps a good omen that he experienced preseason success at Arrowhead Stadium. It was on the same field four years earlier that Wilson made his first preseason start against the Chiefs and put together an impressive performance that helped him win the starting job.
Wilson talked to Boykin and Heaps before their preseason debuts, and in addition to reminding him of the dimensions of the field, one of Wilson's favorite adages, he told Boykin and Heaps to "just cherish the moment. Just let the game come to you, trust the game, trust your reads, trust your progressions, trust the process and enjoy it, because only so many people get to do what we do."
As for McEvoy, the fourth-quarter heroics can only help the undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin as he tries to find a spot on the team. McEvoy, who played quarterback, safety and receiver in college, played safety in offseason workouts with Seattle, but the Seahawks decided in training camp to see what he can do on the other side of the ball.
"That was a beautiful job by Tanner," Carroll said. "He hasn't had a lot of chances to make big plays for us, although we're trying to find out if he is one of those guys. He certainly came through today like we would think. That was the thought, let's go give him the opportunity and see what happens, and he made a couple of great plays at the end.
"He's such an unusual athlete, so I wanted to see what would happen at safety. I wanted to see if he had the kind of instincts that maybe he's really special and nobody had uncovered yet, and I thought he did OK, he did fine back there, but nothing that made us want to stay with it knowing we wanted to see what he would do at receiver. So we started throwing him balls at the end of OTAs, and he's really a nice catcher, then we went ahead and made the move before camp to see if he could fill the dimension of the big guy, and he's surely that—6-5 and ¾, he weighs 235, so he's big, big. We'll keep giving him chances and see how it goes."
On Saturday, with the game on the line, it went pretty well for Boykin, McEvoy and the rest of the Seahawks.
Look through the best photos from the Seahawks preseason game at Kansas City on Saturday, August 13.