With the Seahawks needing a touchdown to pull off an improbable victory, DK Metcalf's mind wandered to an offseason spent working with Russell Wilson in Mexico and Southern California.
"While we were on the sideline, I just wanted to tell Russ, 'Let's just go back to San Diego, let's just go back to Mexico, let's do what we know how to do,'" said Metcalf.
Seattle's second-year receiver wasn't dreaming about warmer climates because it was a wet and windy evening at CenturyLink Field; he wanted to revisit those offseason workouts because he knew he and Wilson could call upon all of those extra hours to help deliver a Seahawks victory.
And sure enough, it was Metcalf catching a 39-yard pass on fourth down to keep the Seahawks' hopes alive, and him again for 15 more yards to get the Seahawks in the red zone. Finally, it was Wilson-to-Metcalf on fourth-and-goal to give the Seahawks a thrilling 27-26 victory that improved Seattle's record to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
In a season where the Seahawks passing game is one of the biggest reasons for the team's fast start, a key piece of that success is the bond formed between Metcalf and Wilson, who five games into the season might be the best quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL.
Metcalf, who came into the weekend tied for the NFL lead with 403 receiving yards on just 16 catches, added to his fast start with 93 more yards on six catches. It's early still, but with 496 yards and five touchdowns through five games, Metcalf, who is still only 22, is on pace to have the most productive season by a pass-catcher in Seahawks history, and yes, that time in the offseason with Wilson is a big part of that fast start.
There were no official offseason workouts this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and no preseason games, but Metcalf and Wilson hit the ground running in no small part because of their time together this spring and summer. Before the world shut down, the two spent time together bonding in Mexico after the end of last season, with Wilson even teaching Metcalf to swim. The two regularly refer to each other as "my big brother" or "my little brother," and Metcalf spent part of his summer living at Wilson's San Diego-area home so the two could work out together while isolating from the outside world.
Perhaps no quarterback and receiver understand each other better on the field than Wilson and Tyler Lockett—and that showed again on the game-winning drive with Wilson hitting Lockett for 17 yards after scrambling to avoid pressure—but Wilson and Metcalf are rapidly building a similar rapport despite the latter's relative inexperience.
For Wilson, the drive "felt like good old Cabo," he said with a laugh.
Of course, chemistry can only go so far, and Wilson and Metcalf are both thriving this year not just because of the bond they have formed, but also because they're both just great at what they do.
Even on what was, statistically speaking, his worst game of the season, Wilson still only added to his MVP resume by throwing three more touchdown passes, upping his league-leading total to 19, and most importantly by leading that 94-yard game-winning drive with less than two minutes left on the clock. Even on that final drive it wasn't easy for Wilson, but he found ways to come through when the Seahawks needed it most, scrambling for 17 yards to start the drive, finding Metcalf for 39 yards on fourth-and-10 to keep it going, spinning out of pressure to find Lockett for 17 more yards, hitting Metcalf on a slant for 15 yards to get into the red zone, then finally on another fourth-and-ballgame situation, driving a perfect pass into the end zone that Metcalf could snag by going low despite good coverage from Vikings safety Anthony Harris.
The game-winning drive was the 34th led by Wilson in the fourth quarter or overtime, postseason included, the most in the NFL since he came into the league in 2012. It didn't matter that Wilson had thrown a rare interception with the Seahawks looking to take the lead on their previous possession, or that the Vikings had not allowed a drive of longer than 58 yards in the game up to that point, everyone on Seattle's sideline liked the team's chances once the defense made that critical fourth-down stop to get the ball back to the offense.
"There's just so much character that goes into being able to have that much poise, to be that clear to function like that so beautifully throughout those opportunities," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's just as good as you can get. I don't know how anybody could ever be better than what he continues to show us. In those situations, he's as good as you can get."
Or, as tight end Will Dissly put it, "We've got 3 in the fourth, we've got them right where we want them."
K.J. Wright, who in his 10-year career has been a part of so many big defensive stops late in game, and been a witness to every one of the offense's Wilson-led comebacks, said this was one of the best comebacks he's seen, from the way the Seahawks overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit, to the way the defense made a critical fourth-and-1 stop to set up the game-winning drive, to the way Wilson, Metcalf and the offense came through.
"I believe this is like one of the top three or four most impressive things I've seen this team do," said Wright, whose third-quarter fumble recovery and interception led to two Seahawks touchdowns. "I knew that once we made the fourth down stop, I was like, 'We're about to win.' The confidence—you should guys should see the confidence that we had on the sideline, everybody was just so positive and optimistic. And we knew, even when it was fourth-and-10 was like, we were like, we're going to find a way. We just have the belief as a team, when you have Russell at quarterback, anything is possible. His Hall of Fame career, he just keeps adding to it. I love him as a teammate, love him as a man and that was just special that he keeps doing that."
Metcalf, meanwhile, is building off of an impressive rookie campaign and taking full advantage of his rare physical traits by combining that size, speed and strength with a work ethic and competitive streak that stand out even in an NFL locker room.
"It's been about hard work, commitment to getting right so that he can have the confidence that it takes to make those kinds of plays," Carroll said. "He totally believes in himself, and he's building up a reservoir of reasons why he should, and he continues to make things happen. He's got a great partner in Russ, who believes in him and trusts him. We all need to be supported, and DK's getting a lot of support from us because we know how good he is, too. So as he continues to log these experiences and put them in his back pocket, he gets stronger and stronger and stronger, he's just going to keep getting better. That was a marvelous game for him tonight."
And yes, being 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, built like a comic book character and able to run a 4.33-yard 40-yard dash also helps.
"Anybody that I've been around, they always told me how big and strong and physical and intimidating I look, so why not just act like it?" Metcalf said.
Wilson and Metcalf "going back to San Diego" was just one part of a wild Seahawks victory, but hugely critical one at that. And put their performance together with some big stops and takeaways by the defense, an impressive 29-yard touchdown run by Chris Carson, and another standout day on special teams, and you have the recipe for another Seahawks victory that, while stress-inducing, is also a lot of fun according to Carroll.
"It's so much freakin' fun," said Carroll, who may or may not have a twisted opinion of what's fun. "But it's way more than that. One, I like to feel like I felt in that fourth quarter, where I was chill about the whole thing, so that I can think clearly, operate well, function well for these guys and do whatever I can to contribute. That's expected that those situations can arise, so you're comfortable with the moments. That's part of it.
"We're making memories, you know? We're making memories, these are memorable situations, that's two. Another thing is the experience that these guys have, it just fortifies why they believe. It just adds on to why they should keep hanging and fighting tough and outlasting the people that were playing, because when you finish, you've got to outlast the other guys, and that's what our guys understand, and they're developing a discipline based on the experience and in the confidence they're getting, because that's all we've been doing for five weeks now. It's just going to make us that much stronger facing whatever the odds are, the issues are, coming down the road. So this is all just the process of building the mentality of a really successful team. These guys are doing everything there, they've got all the stories we need right now, and we'll keep building, hopefully."
The best photos from Week 5's Seahawks-Vikings game at CenturyLink Field, fueled by Nesquik.