One week after a one-catch performance sprouted national speculation that Jimmy Graham was frustrated with his role in Seattle's offense, the tight end turned in his best game as a Seahawk.
Graham recorded a team-high seven catches for a team-high 83 yards in Sunday's 26-0 win over the Chicago Bears, the Seahawks' first victory of the year. Graham's performance tied for the second-most catches in a single-game by a Seahawks tight end in team history (John Carlson, 8).
"It feels good to get a W, to get a number in that column, and that's what this is about," Graham said from Seattle's locker room after the game. "Coming back home for the first time really hearing the 12s, it's incredible. It's a lot louder than I remember even. So special night for us, we seem to be getting something going and we just got to keep this momentum, and we got to just keep pushing it, and just keep getting better and better each week."
Graham's eight targets in Sunday's home-opener were also a team-high, tying the number of looks he got in the Seahawks' Week 1 loss to the St. Louis Rams that saw Graham make six grabs for 51 yards and his first-ever touchdown in a Seattle uniform. Graham's game against the Bears featured another first for the 6-foot-7, 265-pound pass catcher, as he hauled in his first score at CenturyLink Field on a 30-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson - the team's only offensive touchdown of the day.
"Russ was real patient in the pocket and really waited for me," Graham said of his scoring play. "He knew it was man-to-man. Great strike, obviously we're getting better in our connection."
Four of Graham's seven catches and 44 of his 83 yards against Chicago came in the first half, but the Seahawks had trouble converting on third down (0-6) and weren't able to finish drives with more than three points. As a result, his team carried a 6-0 lead into the break.
"One of our things that we talked about at halftime was just finishing," said Graham. "We're going down there and falling short. So for us that was our main focus was starting right and finishing strong, and we were able to do that."
Rookie wideout Tyler Lockett began the second half with a franchise-record 105-yard kick return for a touchdown, sparking the offense to follow suit on its second possession of the half, when Seattle culminated a seven-play, 85-yard drive with the 30-yard scoring toss to Graham on a third-down play midway through the third quarter.
"It was a third-down conversion opportunity, and we felt they pressured," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Graham's touchdown. "I thought it was a one-on-one situation coming across the middle, and he beat the one-on-one and was wide open for the throw.
"But the finish of the play was really cool," Carroll added. "He got out of the tackle and bounced off a guy and knocked it in the end zone. That's playmaking. That's a special play right there. It's great to see him part of it."
Added Graham: "I just wanted to finish it. I didn't want to fall short at the five [yard line] there, so I'm glad I was able to keep this big body up."
With his latest stat-line in mind, does Graham expect anybody to talk about his level of frustration this week?
"I didn't know I was frustrated last week," Graham said. "But just to clarify things, I'm not frustrated at all. Because we won, and that's really all I care about."