After going through a pregame warmup Monday night, Geno Smith felt like he was ready to play.
Smith wanted to play.
But prior to kickoff of the Seahawks' eventual Week 15 win over the Eagles, the team's doctors and athletic trainers, along with Pete Carroll, decided it was in Smith's best interest to sit out another game, the result of a groin injury he had suffered less than two weeks earlier.
Smith wasn't happy about having to miss another game when he felt like he was ready to play, but rather than mope around the sideline, he spent the next three hours being the biggest supporter he could be to backup quarterback Drew Lock.
And when Lock led a 92-yard game-winning drive, which he capped with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, there was perhaps nobody on the Seahawks sideline more fired up for Lock than Smith.
"That was awesome," Smith said. "So excited for Drew, that was really cool to see him in that moment, and for all the guys really. That was a big win for us, big-time game, Monday Night Football against a really good team. I thought Drew played really well throughout the game, and for him to close it out the way he did, for all the guys to make the plays the way they did, I was just so happy. It was one of those nights that you'll remember for the rest of your life. Just seeing him in that moment and the way that he handled all of that was really cool to see."
The bond between Seattle's quarterbacks has been there since the two were competing for the starting job last summer, but it garnered a lot more attention after Monday's game, especially when a clip of the two celebrating the winning touchdown began circulating on social media.
As Lock explained it, the celebration goes back to his college days at Missouri when a rap song with the line "I'm in my bag" was popular amongst his teammates. To signify he was in his bag, Lock would gesture like he was putting a bag over his shoulders after touchdown passes. Smith saw an old clip of it last year and suggested Lock use it again. After making the biggest play of his Seahawks career, Lock remembered his old celebration, and Smith was ready to give it right back.
"That was his little deal back in Missouri, I talked to him about that a year ago, I was like, 'Man that was a cool celebration. The next time you throw a touchdown, you've got to do it, and we'll all do it,'" Smith said. "It was great for it to happen in that moment, and like I said, I'm super proud, super excited for him and all the guys. That was a special night."
Lock and Smith began their time as Seahawks teammates as competitors. Smith, who had been the backup to Russell Wilson for the previous three seasons, was finally getting his chance to compete for the starting job, while Lock, who arrived in Seattle as part of last year's trade that sent Wilson to Denver, was looking to come in and win the Seahawks job. But despite the fact that the two were competing for the same job, they both made a point last summer of expressing their support for each other, with each noting that, while he wanted to win the job, he would be the other's biggest supporter no matter how the competition played out.
And for the past two seasons, Lock has indeed been in Smith's corner, helping him prepare for starts, sharing insight in games, and doing anything else he could think of to make the life of the starting quarterback just a little bit easier. And these past two weeks, Smith hasn't hesitated to return the favor.
"He's like an unsung hero in these last two weeks," Lock said after Monday's win. "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 (warning), '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 (Mannion) 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."
Added offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, "The amazing part about that was seeing the true relationship that Geno and Drew have both established with each other, with us as coaches. It's not an easy thing for Geno to deal with knowing that his mind is set on playing and then it's not going to work out that way. But then to flip over and be supportive and helpful on the sideline with Drew, you see that genuine appreciation and happiness when Drew is able to make the play at the end. And those two guys that really care about each other, have been through a lot in competition going back a couple years now, but have built a relationship that extends beyond just the competitive nature of the position that they're in."
The fact that Smith was able to be there for Lock while at the same time being disappointed that he wasn't playing made his support all the more meaningful to Lock.
"He's the starter for this team," Lock said. "That was what we had planned going into last season, we had planned going into this season. I'm supposed to be there for him. I'm supposed to be helping him out. Unfortunate situation for him. Like I said, for him to reverse those roles, be my biggest supporter out there, it's really cool. Really cool stuff."
Smith practiced fully on Thursday and said he felt "pretty good, still getting better," adding, "I would hope so" when asked if he's playing Sunday in Tennessee. And while signs point to Smith making it back last week, what is clear after Monday night is that, whoever is starting, the other quarterback will be that starter's biggest supporter on gameday.
"Our relationship is going to keep growing," Lock said Monday night. "I think we hugged like 10 times in the locker room tonight. He's just so excited for me. I appreciate genuine excitement out of him towards me. That's not easy to do. It wasn't easy when he got named the starter for me last year. It's not easy for him now watching it from the sideline. I know the type of competitor he is. He wants to be out there every single snap. I just appreciate his pure joy for me. Likewise, I've been giving pure joy to him."
Seahawks practice on a foggy afternoon at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. on Dec. 21, 2023.