First, David Moore had to pull himself off the turf and out of the end zone. That wasn’t easy.
He’d been there for what felt like minutes, while Los Angeles Chargers ran giddily around him celebrating at his expense.
Once Moore got up, Russell Wilson was one of the first to arrive. The quarterback comforted him. He told Moore he will catch the next one, then told everyone else Moore will make that catch “10 out of 10 times.”
Tedric Thompson tapped the top of Moore’s helmet. Pro Bowl veteran Doug Baldwin, who a couple hours had earlier joined Moore, Tyler Lockett and other Seahawks wide receivers in their latest elaborate touchdown celebration, consoled Moore, too. Other teammates and coaches patted his back and told him he’s still their guy.
“I got a lot of support, man. I got a lot of love,” Moore said Thursday, sitting at his locker at team headquarters four days after Wilson’s pass on the game’s final play went off Moore’s chest then hands and onto the ground to end the Seahawks’ 25-17 loss to the Chargers.
“Some pick-me-uppers, man. They helped me out a lot. My teammates. Coaches. The people that work around here. It helped me out. A lot.
“It’s a family place here, man.”
If you expected Moore to be morose this week, you’ve come to the wrong place.
He was smiling and laughing at his locker before practice Thursday.
He knows where he is. And he sure knows where he’s been.
He’s a former Division-II wide receiver from a tiny college and small hometown many do not leave. He has four touchdowns in a three-game stretch during this, his second season in the NFL. His four scores are the second-most TD catches on the Seahawks behind Lockett’s six. Those touchdowns and his 13 receptions the last four games are the only TDs and catches of Moore’s unlikely pro career.
He came within a rifle shot tipped a couple feet in front of him by Charger Jaheel Addae of another TD, and perhaps from capping a 15-point rally by Seattle to force overtime.
With his head high and chest out, Moore is owning that one.
Even though Addae made a brilliant play coming off Lockett from Moore’s left and a couple feet in front of him, even though Addae’s finger tips tapped Wilson’s zooming spiral into a wild, end-over-end mess that would have been extremely difficult to catch a split second before it reached Moore, the rest of the country calls it a drop that cost the Seahawks a chance to win.
“Yeah, probably not to everybody else (in our locker room), but in my head, if I touch the ball, that’s just me, I would consider that a drop,” he said.
There will be chances for redemption. On Sunday, in fact. As sure as the Seahawks (4-4) wear blue and green, Wilson will be throwing to Moore in tight coverage again in the Los Angeles Coliseum against the division-leading Rams (8-1).
“He’s a star,” Wilson said. “And he’s going to be a star for a long time.”
At 6 feet and a rugged 215 pounds, Moore has so impressed the Seahawks in the last 12 months he’s forced them to cut a future Hall of Famer in pass rusher Dwight Freeney and six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Last November the Seahawks believed another team was about to sign the promising Moore off their practice squad onto its active roster. To keep that from happening, Seattle signed Moore to their 53-man roster. The Seahawks needed a roster spot to do it. Freeney was 37 and had been the last of 11 defensive lineman to join the team last season, just a few weeks earlier. So the Seahawks waived Freeney.
This spring the Seahawks signed Marshall, a 13-year veteran who has six seasons with at least 100 catches, to be the big, physical mismatch against smaller defensive backs. Seattle lost that in March when 6-6 tight end Jimmy Graham signed in free agency with Green Bay. Marshall caught a touchdown pass in this season’s opener at Denver, but then dropped four passes in a span of five quarters, including three drive killers on third downs. At the same time, during the win at Arizona on Sept. 30, Moore was catching the first passes of his career.
A week later he had two touchdown grabs as the Seahawks ran with the unbeaten Rams before losing at home 33-31. A week after that Moore broke off an improvisational route on a scramble by Wilson in London and caught another TD pass to spark the rout of Oakland. In Detroit the week after that, Moore tipped a pass away from an overmatched defensive back to himself for his fourth TD and ninth catch in three games.
So, no, one tipped pass off his chest and hands is not going to change the Seahawks’ plans for Moore. The guy who throws the passes says it’s not going to change his faith in Moore, either.
“I just talked to him and I told him the same thing I just told you. He’s obviously been doing it all year,” Wilson said. “The great thing is that he’s so young and so talented. It’s going to show up 100 times over in his career. I believe that the next 100 times, he’s going to make it 100 times over.
“I’m glad he’s on our team.”
He’s been cemented on it since the third preseason game, Aug. 24 at Minnesota. Moore caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from rookie backup Alex McGough that night. He also wowed his coaches and everyone else with a shifty, then accelerating punt return of 75 yards for a TD that got called back by a penalty.
“The game that really clicked off was the Vikings, preseason,” Moore said Thursday. “How that game went, the fun we had in that game, I just knew right then and there: ‘All right. I belong at this level. Let’s go! My confidence is here. I feel it. I’m having fun. That’s the name of the game. Let’s keep going.’”
Including the celebrations. The Seahawks wide receivers are mastering those this season. Last weekend it was a four-man, peel-off dance featuring Lockett.
In Detroit the week before it was a bean-ball reenactment of baseball pitcher and batter, a nod to the World Series.
Moore’s role in that latter skit was to charge the mound and go after Lockett for hitting Baldwin with a “pitch,” the football after a touchdown.
“The main thing that I’m really excited about is the touchdown dances, man,” Moore said. “No matter who scores the receivers go out there and have fun and do our thing.”
So how did the Seahawks find Moore out of tiny East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, enrollment 4,500 (that’s 4,500 undergraduates AND graduate students)?
“Aaron Hineline came to talk to me. He was in my ear a lot, texted me a lot,” Moore said of the Seahawks’ scout who covers the nation’s Heartland. “The first time I met him he told me I was going to be a Seahawk. I just looked at him like, ‘All right, dude.’
“That’s when we just started stacking conversations, I just started talking to him. He kept talking to me. So I knew all about the Seahawks.”
Before the 2017 draft Moore had to drive 96 miles for his Pro Day, from Ada to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. He worked out with a handful of prospects from other smaller schools in Oklahoma, for scouts from all 32 teams. He also had a personal, pre-draft workout with the Houston Texans.
“I ended up at UCO with a lot of other D-II players, D-I for some players—and me,” he said, chuckling.
A few weeks later the Seahawks chose Moore in the seventh and last round of the draft. Exactly 225 other players got drafted before he did.
Moore admits he carries a chip on his shoulder of being from Division II in the NFL among college stars from Oklahoma, Alabama, USC, LSU, Ohio State and the like.
“Yeah, in a way. I feel like you have to, kind of,” he said. “Just knowing that you came from a D-II some people look at you like you don’t belong, sometimes.
“But here, not at all. They welcomed me in, like I was any other player from any other division. That helped me play more free.”
He says he picked East Central because he clicked with the coach there, and it was relatively close to his home in Gainesville, Texas, on the Oklahoma border. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 20 percent of Gainesville’s population of 16,000 live below the national poverty line.
“I was honestly looking to just get into a school, man,” Moore said.
“Where I come from a lot of people don’t go to school.”
His offense at East Central wasn’t the spread, read-cartoon-characters-off-play-cards offenses that dominate all levels of college football today. That’s another reason the Seahawks thought Moore might be a quick learner with them despite the steeper step up from Division II to the NFL.
Moore’s was a pro-style offense at East Central. Some of the concepts he ran there the Seahawks run now. That eased his transition, “as far as where I was at on the field, routes and depths and things like that,” he said.
Where he’s come from helps ease his pain of that last pass against the Chargers.
“Nah, I won’t let it hang over my head. I let it go,” he said.
“I’ll get it the next time.”