EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The extra work Paul Richardson put in with Russell Wilson in Los Angeles at USC during Seattle's bye week last week paid off for the Seahawks during Sunday's 24-7 win over the New York Giants, as the fourth-year receiver and his quarterback connected on a 38-yard touchdown on a trick play during the fourth quarter of the club's Week 7 game at MetLife Stadium.
The scoring play came immediately following a turnover Seattle forced of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who lost the football as he was sacked by defensive tackle Jarran Reed, a ball that fellow defensive lineman Frank Clark recovered. And on Seattle's next offensive snap, Wilson tossed the football to running back J.D. McKissic, who tossed the football back to Wilson, who located a leaping Richardson deep down field in the corner of the end zone.
"What an exciting play, obviously," Wilson said afterward. "It's a great call by [Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell] Bevell. I toss it to J.D., he throws it back to me, and I just let Paul do his thing. Gave him a chance one-on-one."
Game footage and photos showed Richardson's hands on the football first, but the catch was contested by Giants safety Landon Collins as the two players went to the ground before officials eventually signaled six points for the Seahawks, a competitive exchange that elicited a "he had it all the way" reaction from Seattle head coach Pete Carroll postgame.
"It was a tough battle, man," Richardson said. "I saw the ball, man, I got excited, I jumped early and everything for it. He tried to snatch it away from me. Good catch, though."
Added Wilson: "I wouldn't want to pick anybody else one-on-one than Paul and he just did a great job of attacking the football, snagging it down. It was contested, that's for sure. I think Paul got his hands on it first, obviously, and kind of brought it down. It was definitely a pretty crazy play. But it's like baseball, you know, simultaneous hitting the bag first. So it was a great play by Paul, a great effort by Landon Collins as well, but fortunate for us."
Richardson, a second-round pick by the Seahawks in 2014, has found success early in the team's 2017 campaign. He has started every game alongside Seattle's No. 1 wideout Doug Baldwin to rank second on the team in receiving with 269 yards on 16 catches, while his 16.8 yards-per-catch average leads the Seahawks. With his score against the Giants, Richardson now leads the team in receiving touchdowns with three.
"He's doing great," Carroll said. "I'm so excited about his play. His confidence level is so much different than it's been in the past because he had so much in and out time with being banged up and all that, but he's been steady and he's worked really hard and he's a tremendous practice player. I mentioned to you during the week I think that he had spent some time with Russell during the break, throwing some and making sure they're connected and all that. But he's just grown up with us and it's great to see, and he's having a blast."
As Carroll notes, Richardson had a hard time getting and staying on the field in his first few seasons playing behind players like Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, as well as since departed players like Jermaine Kearse and Percy Harvin. Injuries also played a role, with Richardson tearing his ACL in a postseason game his rookie year and then pulling his hamstring, a setback that landed him on injured reserve, in his first game back the following season. Now healthy, Richardson is taking advantage of his opportunities as they arise, with Sunday's two-catch, 61-yard and a touchdown effort serving as the latest example.
"You can't say enough about Paul," said Baldwin. "… His maturity as a football player in terms of learning coverages, knowing how he fits in the role in the system, how to adjust his route on the fly. He's really becoming a well-rounded receiver and I told him on the field I really admire him because he's had some struggles, injuries and not getting opportunities when he could have, but makes the best of every opportunity that comes to him. Again, I couldn't be more proud of him."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 24-7 victory over the New York Giants in Week 7.