INDIANAPOLIS—Tyler Lockett isn't familiar with Willie Mays' famous catch in Game 1 of 1954 World Series, the sprinting over-the-shoulder grab that robbed Vic Wertz of extra bases, and to be fair, that catch did happen 38 years before Lockett was born.
But even if Lockett isn't familiar with Mays' most famous catch, his head coach sure is, and in Sunday's 28-16 win over the Colts, Lockett did a pretty decent Mays impersonation hauling in an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch that opened the scoring for Seattle.
Carroll, who grew up in the Bay Area and became a Giants fan after the team moved there in 1958, has a picture of Mays' famous catch hanging on his wall, and his mind immediately went to that comparison after Lockett's 23-yard touchdown.
"We talked about it on the sidelines," Carroll said. "It was just like it was back in the day. I've got the picture on my wall."
"He's kind of like Willie Mays out there, he can run anything down," Russell Wilson said. "Maybe he's like Griffey, Seattle thing. He can really find the ball, track the ball really well. That's one of the things he does best."
And if Lockett's first touchdown was reminiscent of Mays for the way he adjusted to make an impressive over-the-shoulder grab, then his second one had shades of that famous catch in the way Lockett ran for every to catch up to yet another great Wilson deep ball. With the Seahawks facing second-and-20 after a penalty late in the second quarter, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron decided to get aggressive and take a shot. Lockett ran a great route to get open, Wilson launched a perfect deep ball, and Lockett sprinted under it, stumbled a bit, but kept his footing to finish off the 69-yard score.
Those two big plays allowed Locket to finish with 100 yards on just four catches, the 11th 100-yard game of his career.
"Amazing," said DK Metcalf, who finished with 60 yards and a touchdown on four catches, all in the second half. "I was celebrating before he even got in the end zone. That's Tyler."
Despite being one of the NFL's most productive receivers over the past three seasons, Lockett remains underappreciated from a national perspective—he has yet to make the Pro Bowl as a receiver despite all of his success and so many spectacular catches—but games like Sunday's showed the type of play that has led to the Seahawks giving him to multi-year contract extensions, including one this past offseason.
Lockett doesn't make spectacular plays just because he's really fast and athletic, thought that's obviously part of it. He also has built incredible chemistry with Wilson over the years so the two are on the same page almost every snap, and he puts in the extra work that can pay off in big moments. All oft hat was on display on Lockett's Willie Mays-esque touchdown. With the Colts brining pressure, Wilson knew he wouldn't have a lot of time to let his receivers get open, but he also knows that zero blitz call will leave a lot of open space for his pass-catcher to find. That knowledge, and trust of Lockett, allowed Wilson to loft a high pass into he end zone long before Lockett was there, and Lockett's ability to know his quarterback and to track the ball meant he was able to make the tough catch. And sure enough, Lockett practiced almost that exact type of over-the-shoulder catch in pregame warmups with receivers coach Nate Carroll.
"If you looked at No-E in pregame, he was working on that exact catch with the ball coming just like that," Pete Carroll said, using Lockett's nickname from when the Seahawks had both a Lockett and a Lockette (Ricardo) on their roster. "It's an amazing chemistry they have."
Added Lockett, "It's practice and preparation. Even in pregame, I was working on trying to catch deep balls."
Lockett said he almost didn't put in those extra reps with Carroll, but was glad he did.
"Who would have known I was going to have one of those plays today," he said. "So I'm happy I was able to work on it before the game and luckily I got a chance to make a catch on it."
In the end, the extra work, the chemistry with Wilson and some rare athletic traits helped Lockett turn in yet another spectacular performance, one that drew comparisons to one of the greatest baseball players in history.
"Just a fantastic football player," Carroll said.
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Colts in their first game of the 2021 season at Lucas Oil Stadium. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.