The name is Jermaine Kearse, guys. Might be time to learn the man’s name.
Among the quotes coming out of the Carolina Panthers’ locker room following the Seahawks’ 12-7 win Sunday was one from veteran tight end Greg Olson, who was frustrated that “you fight for a whole game and it comes right down to where that kid made a great play on that deep ball.”
That kid, that unknown No. 15, that undrafted free agent out of the University of Washington and Lakes High School, goes by the name Jermaine Kearse.
And, yes, he did make a great play on a deep ball in the fourth quarter to give the Seahawks the margin of victory in their season-opening game.
It was the first regular-season touchdown for Kearse, who also happened to light it up for the Seahawks in the preseason with a pair of receiving scores and a 107-yard kickoff return.
Until then, the Seahawks had managed nothing but a pair of field goals Sunday. On the preceding play, though, quarterback Russell Wilson and receiver Stephen Williams just missed on a deep ball up the right sidelines.
On the next play, they came back with the same play, this time with Kearse running that route.
“It was a go route,” Kearse said of the 43-yard score. “We obviously needed a big play and they gave me the chance to go out there and make it. I saw (Wilson) looking my way and he gave me a chance. I just had to go up there and get the ball.”
There was a bit more to it than that.
“I just read the play,” Wilson said. “I went though my progressions and he was my second read. He just did a great job of attacking the football. He’s done an unbelievable job, and he keeps doing it. We need those big plays.”
Kearse said he sensed no alarm on the sideline despite trailing so far into the game.
“Everybody was still in tune with the game and nobody thought it was over,” he said. “In the fourth quarter, we rose to the occasion and we started playing ball and we finished.”
Kearse did not, however, get to return a kickoff. Having scored on a return in the preseason, he was given those duties for the Carolina game. But the Panthers’ kicks were all too deep to return.
“But if I had my chance, I was going to run with it,” he said.
He finished with two catches for 49 yards, catching both balls thrown in his direction.
“Their defense was really stout today,” he said of the Panthers. “We didn’t get to run the ball the way we wanted to. So we just had to resort to the quick game and continue to pound the ball. Eventually we were going to break, and that’s what happened at the end of the game.”