CHARLOTTE—First there was the leg contusion, an injury that forced Tyler Lockett to spend two nights in a Bay Area hospital after his teammates flew home following a big win. Then came a nasty flu bug that hit several members of the team, Lockett included.
Between those two factors, as well as some good defenses that were focusing on taking away the Seahawks' explosive passing game, it has been a quiet month for Lockett when it comes to production.
Including the 49ers game in which he was injured, Lockett had only eight catches in Seattle's last four games heading into this weekend, including a two-game stretch in which he had just one catch against the Eagles and none against the Vikings.
On Sunday, however, Tyler Lockett was back to looking like Tyler Lockett, playing a huge role in Seattle's 30-24 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Lockett led the Seahawks with eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, his fourth 100-yard game and his first since having 13 catches for 152 yards in a Week 9 win over Tampa Bay.
With two regular-season games left, Lockett has career highs in catches (75) and yards (994) as well as seven touchdowns.
"I was really excited to see Tyler Lockett get back in action and really be a factor," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "You can see how Russ (Wilson) maneuvers and makes stuff happen because he and Tyler were just phenomenal together. And it's really, it's been a while. And Tyler's been working his way back and you could see it. We saw it during the week and we were hoping that it would come through and he has a big day. He just missed by a hair getting another big play, but he came through in great fashion, so it's great to have him back because we are going to need him to finish up."
Lockett's big day included a great catch in traffic for a 44-yard gain that helped set up a touchdown, a 19-yard touchdown reception, and a huge 14-yard catch on third-and-11 that prevented the Seahawks from having to give the ball back to the Panthers with just over 2 minutes left in the game. And as Carroll referenced, it could have been an even bigger day had Wilson not barely overshot an open Lockett on a deep pass.
"You think about the plays that Tyler was making today," Wilson said. "We really got Tyler going again, which is a great thing for us. We always want to get him the football… The third down at the end of the game, that was an amazing play by him, scrambling, getting open, finding a way."
Wilson said he had seen a different Lockett in the week leading up to the game: "I think he had the flu and then before that he had the leg injury in San Fran. He was just kind of battling through. He is such a tough warrior in how he prepares and how he plays, plays through injuries and stuff like that. He is back to full speed Tyler Lockett which is a great thing for us. How he got down the field on a couple of plays today, scramble like I said and just different things he was able to do was awesome for us."
Lockett said he wasn't concerned about his dip in production because, last week's loss in L.A. notwithstanding, the team was winning and the offense was making things happen even if he wasn't the one making the plays.
"Even when I wasn't doing much, you saw other people stepping up and doing great things, and at the end of the day that's what it's all about," he said. "It's not about me being able to always do good and me being able to always shine, because there's other people who deserve a chance to shine, and there's other people who are going to get a chance to shine based off of what teams decide to do."
But even if he isn't going to stress about individual numbers, Lockett did acknowledge that the past month has been tough on him.
"It's been very tough," he said. "I hadn't really had a lot of energy, to be honest. I wasn't really getting any sleep, wasn't really eating, I lost 10 pounds. So it was just a long process to try to at least come back and get energy and just be in it. Now I'm feeling a lot better, still a sick a little bit, but not as bad."