Tyler Lockett was gone from the postgame locker-room scene in the same way he does everything else.
In a flash.
The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl rookie was the star attraction for cameras and microphones on the field, in tunnels, in hallways — everywhere — around University of Phoenix Stadium. Everyone was following his latest, zooming performance in Seattle’s 36-6 steamrolling of the Arizona Cardinals.
Sunday brought the latest examples why Seattle traded up 27 picks to get to the top of the third round of May’s draft to get Lockett, and why he got voted into the Pro Bowl as a return specialist after four months in the league
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“He’s one of a kind,” quarterback Russell Wilson said.
“He just looked unstoppable,” coach Pete Carroll added.
Lockett began his rookie year as the first Seahawks player on the field for the first day of training camp in July. He ended his debut regular season by breaking a 17-year-old Seahawks record with 139 yards on punt returns.
Actually, he smashed it. The old mark was 106 yards, by Charlie Rogers from Sept. 26, 1999, at Pittsburgh. Lockett bagged that by halftime Sunday.
Lockett’s 379 yards in punt returns this regular season was second-most by a rookie in Seahawks’ history. Bobby Joe Edmonds had 419 while debuting in 1986.
Adding in his 36 yards receiving on two catches Sunday, Lockett set a Seahawks rookie record for most all-purpose yards at 1,915 (852 on kickoff returns, 664 receiving, 379 on punt returns and 20 on rushes from scrimmage). His 51 catches in the regular season were second on the team to Doug Baldwin’s 78.
That’s a full season’s worth and then some for the son of former NFL wide receiver Kevin Lockett. Seattle drafted Tyler Lockett to be its new kick and punt returner and fix a big problem from last season.
Lockett is doing that. Exquisitely. He’s continually putting Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense in prime field position for short drives to scores. His returns in the first half Sunday started Seattle at the Arizona 8 and Arizona 27. That directly resulted in 14 of the Seahawks’ 30 points before halftime.
“I think he’s rookie of the year,” Wilson said of Lockett. “There are some other guys (such as St. Louis’ 1,106-yard rusher Todd Gurley), but you watch Tyler and the different things that he can do. The explosiveness in the passing game. He’s great on third down. He made some big-time, red-zone catches. … The punt returns. The kick returns.
“You think about what a special player he is.”
Tight end Chase Coffman’s score came after Lockett, a Kansas State record setter, took a punt at the Seahawks 18, made one move left to juke a ruined Cardinals player, then zapped the rest of Arizona’s punt team on a 66-yard sprint to the 8-yard line.
Teammate Richard Sherman thought he’d been called for a block-in-the-back foul when he saw the flag at the start of the return, and he was hopping mad at the official who threw it.
“I was like, ‘C’mon. C’mon!’ ” Sherman said.
But the flag was on Arizona’s Brittan Golden for grabbing Sherman’s face mask. Sherman walked off the field almost sheepishly, as if he’d gotten away with something.
Lockett also had a 31-yard punt return later in the half. Steven Hauschka missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the ensuing, short drive.
Lockett should have finished with 161 yards on punt returns; he had a 22-yard return negated by a first-half holding call on Sherman.
The Cardinals, wisely, began punting away from Lockett after halftime. But it was 30-6 by then.
“Any time you can shift the field the way he does, it’s tough on a defense,” Wilson said. “Any time he has the ball in his hands he may score. That’s a good feeling.
“His professionalism, I think that’s where it starts … the way he works.”