By Gregg Bell | McClatchy News Service
SEATTLE — What all this really comes down to — DK Metcalf’s ridiculous catches, Russell Wilson’s coolly clutch throws and these astounding last-play victories for these Seahawks — is belief.
Belief that no matter how much time remains (it was 1:57 Sunday night) or how far they must go (94 yards against Minnesota), Wilson will win.
Where’s that belief come from?
It comes from the relentlessly positive quarterback’s self-described “neutral mind” he hones almost daily with his mental-conditioning coach, Trevor Moawad from Lakewood.
It comes from Wilson’s 34 comeback victories in the fourth quarter and overtime. That’s the most in the NFL since 2012, when the third-round pick supposedly too short to make it in the NFL became Seattle’s starter from the first game of his rookie season.
And this belief comes from Wilson and Metcalf grinding, throwing and catching, for hours and days and weeks, in 102-degree heat in Mexico this offseason, during a pandemic.
“It was like ol’ Cabo,” Wilson said late Sunday, laughing.
The relentlessly believing 31-year-old quarterback and his 22-year-old offseason workout partner in the heat down south turned belief into another bonkers victory for these undefeated Seahawks.
The last-second, 27-26 victory for Seattle over the shocked Minnesota Vikings is the latest product of the bond between Wilson and Metcalf. Wilson calls him “one of my best friends.”
It’s a brotherhood and friendship that defies the relative short time — 17 months — they’ve been teammates.
“It shows the connection that we have,” Metcalf said of Seattle’s latest winning play. “My whole mind, my whole thought process, while we are on the sidelines (before the final drive), 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.
“’And how to win.’”
Belief at the end
Wilson and the NFL’s co-leader in yards receiving entering Sunday connected six times for 93 more yards and two more touchdowns.
More telling, on the two plays Seattle absolutely had to have to be 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, Wilson looked squarely for Metcalf, and not veteran, No. 1 receiver Tyler Lockett.
Wilson threw to Metcalf on six of his final nine throws on the Seahawks’ must-have, game-winning drive Sunday night.
Fourth and 10, 1:21 remaining. Seattle at its own 23, down 26-21.
Tight end Will Dissly said the Seahawks’ belief is so strong they were telling themselves: “We got ’em right where we want ’em.”
With the game at stake, Wilson saw Metcalf one on one with rookie Cameron Dantzler out wide left. Schottenheimer sent Metcalf on a go route down the left sideline. As Wilson’s lofted ball floated through the Seattle rain, Dantzler simply stood. He was anchored and awkwardly twisted into the wet turf. The rookie freezing allowed the 6-foot-4 Metcalf to jump uncontested for the ball. That turned Metcalf’s physical superiority into a relatively easy, though pressure-packed, leap and grab for a 39-yard gain.
“Fourth and 10. Clutch situation. Gotta make a play,” Wilson said. “Kind of looking across the board to everybody.”
“And obviously DK,” Wilson added.
“I looked down the field and just tried to give him a chance. Give him a chance to put his hands on it.
“Sure enough, he makes an unbelievable catch. I don’t even think I got to see it, to be honest with you. I think I was on the ground. I don’t even know. But I know everybody was celebrating on our sideline.”
“We knew. Even when it was fourth and 10, it was like, we’re going to find a way,” said linebacker K.J. Wright, the longest-tenured Seahawk, at 10 years. “We just have to believe as a team, if we have Russell at quarterback, anything is possible.
“His Hall of Fame career, he just keeps adding to it. I love him as a teammate.
“I love him.”
At the Vikings 21 with 1 minute left, the beloved Wilson found Metcalf open in the short right outside for 15 more yards, to the Minnesota 6. Then, three straight incomplete passes. Two targeted Metcalf. One looked like the winning touchdown, right at the goal line on Minnesota’s Mike Hughes, but Metcalf lost the ball as he hit the pylon.
The final play
Fourth and goal at the 6, with 20 seconds remaining. The Seahawks call time out. Schottenheimer and Wilson settle on a play that had four receivers, two flexed tight off each edge of the line, with one wing each off the line. Metcalf was on the line left, just outside Lockett as the left wing. Metcalf ran across the field from left to right in the middle of the end zone. As a diversion, rookie Freddie Swain ran across the field in front of Metcalf, from right to left.
All parties afterward tried to assert Metcalf wasn’t necessarily Wilson’s first option of the final play.
But, c’mon. Wilson wanted one guy.
He waited for Metcalf to clear Swain, and for Metcalf to get Minnesota’s Hughes on his back hip. When that happened, Wilson threw the ball to Metcalf’s left, into this run, away from Hughes’ tight, desperate coverage. Wilson zipped a dart that Metcalf reached, grabbed and held onto like the prized possession it was.
“DK did a great job of just running away from his guy, and just closing off the window (for the defender to cover),” Wilson said.
Seahawks win, 27-26, on their final offensive play. Despite not converting a third down all night. Despite running just 52 plays to Minnesota’s 83.
“Just all those reps that we’ve practiced in the offseason, in the summer, all the time just together, one on one, just really came and showed up tonight, sure enough in that special moment,” he said.