PITTSBURGH-In the Seahawks 32-25 preseason opener loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday, rookie outside linebacker Boye Mafe led both defenses with 2 sacks. The Minnesota Gopher alum added a forced fumble, tackle for loss and a tackle on special teams, quite the stat line for a debut performance. Following Mafe's debut performance, he took the podium to discuss his performance and his outlook going forward.
The NFL preseason gives teams a chance to view their personnel against another team, and for rookies, a debut can be filled with plenty of emotions and jitters. But for Mafe, keeping a level-head is the key to success.
"I try to keep it level-headed," said Mafe. "Try to go into it to make sure I wasn't over-thinking, overdoing too much and not trying to over-analyze everything. So, for me it was coming out there and I had to, you know, talk myself down like 'It's just another game, we're just playing', and obviously it was amazing. After the first play getting out there, thumping it up a little bit, I was like 'all right, we're here, let's play,' and then I was just letting loose."
The 2021 second-team All-Big Ten selection finally got to put to use what he's been working on at OTAs and training camp against an opponent. Both inside and outside of the building, many have taken note of Mafe's explosive play off the edge and progression throughout the summer. But Mafe was self-assured that when the pads came on that he would truly shine his brightest.
"For me personally I feel as if the pads on, you get more of that game-like feel," said Mafe. "It's one thing to do it without pads, but you can't really get that contact-to-contact, you can't really get that game-like feel if you don't have pads on. I can't sit there and long-arm somebody with no pads on. But you know, when you get those pads on you can still do more things and actually get those game time reps."
While Mafe had a dominant individual performance, the rookie reflected on the lesson from the loss and what he learned about the team.
"For me, what I learned about our team is that we don't give up, honestly," said Mafe. "We had a little rough first half, but we came back in the second half and we were ready to play. We didn't bat an eye, Coach (Pete Carroll) showed us not to bat an eye and we just came out in the second half and was like 'Let it rip.' But myself, honestly I just learned that I'm excited to play this game. I'm ready to learn more, learn everything I can, and just learned about myself honestly. Every day is just a learning time for me to learn about myself and things I can improve on. Tomorrow is a time for me to go over the film, look over everything and see where it is I can improve on."
In the fourth quarter, Mafe darted off the line of scrimmage, bringing down Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett for a sack - his second of the night. The play might have set up a game-winning score, but the Seahawks offense immediately committed a turnover, giving the Steelers a short field they were able to turn into a game-winning score. Mafe discussed the impactful sack and his thoughts as the play developed.
"For me it was more of a read, and sometimes you have to trust your gut," said Mafe. "Once you see something just run with it, and I did give myself a second-guess, but at the end of the day, sometimes you gotta take a shot like that."
Mafe racked up 19 sacks in just 3 seasons on the field as a Gopher. Here's to hoping Mafe will find more shots to take that lead to sacks for the Seahawks this preseason.
The Seahawks have taken the field in Pittsburgh to play their first game of the preseason vs. the Steelers.