Kelcie McCray had been on the field for more than 100 plays when it came time to chase down one of the fastest players in the NFL. With the Seahawks locked in a tense, overtime battle with the Arizona Cardinals, receiver J.J. Nelson caught a pass as Richard Sherman's exhausted legs gave out on him, and the Cardinals receiver broke loose for what looked like it was going to be the game-winning touchdown.
Nelson, who ran a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, sprinted for the end zone, but McCray managed to run the speedster down and make a diving, game-saving tackle. The tackle would have been an impressive effort play at any point of any game, but it was especially remarkable when you consider that it was near the end of a game in which McCray played 108 snaps, including special teams, the most any NFL player has been on the field in a game this season.
"Thankfully Kelcie was able to save the day, and I appreciate it," Sherman said. "… It was incredibly impressive. He's got a lot of heart. He's fast in his own right—Kelcie's probably 4.3 (40-yard dash)—and it just shows the kind of heart he has. He plays until the last second, just like everybody else on our team, but he went out there and he gave it his all and gave us another chance to play, and that was the remarkable feat that night."
As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it, "Kelcie was just an ironman."
McCray's tackle of Nelson was a huge play, and it was also one he wasn't sure he was going to be able to make as the play unfolded.
"At first, I thought it was going to be a touchdown," he said. "I was like, 'This guy's going to score, game over.' But I basically just ran as fast as I could and gave it everything I could to try to get him down… He is a fast guy, but that didn't go through my mind at the time. The only thing I was thinking about was get him out of bounds or get him on the ground. I grabbed his foot and held on as long as I could."
Thanks to McCray's tackle and the goal-line stand that followed, the Seahawks were able to escape Arizona with a 6-6 tie instead of a loss, and now after a couple of days to recover, McCray and the rest of the defense feel like they're ready to bounce back from a very long day at the office. McCray doesn't know what his role will be this week—Kam Chancellor has a chance to get back from a groin injury after missing the past two games, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday—but whether he's starting again or back to being a backup safety and key special teams contributor, McCray says he's ready to go.
"I'm a little bit more banged up, but that was last week, I'm ready to get back to work this week and play 100 more plays if I have to," McCray said.
As for what it was like to play more than 100 snaps on a hot afternoon, McCray said, "It was definitely a challenge mentally, but I feel like everybody in this locker room, everybody who was out there playing felt the same thing I was feeling. Any time you play that many snaps, it's definitely a challenge, but it's part of being mentally strong, and all of us had to fight through it.
"Even after 95 plays or however many it was, there was no quit in those guys. Bobby (Wagner) and K.J. (Wright), I knew those guys were just as tired as I was, but at the same time, we had to maintain a certain level of focus, and there was no quit in us."
Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive moments from Seattle's Week 7 tie with the Arizona Cardinals.