Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks add twist on runaway success of Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett

Tyler Lockett and Russell Wilson aren’t perfect together anymore.

Technically and statistically speaking, that is.

Lockett uncharacteristically dropped a pass in last month’s opening win over Cincinnati. After that game the wide receiver joked he got the perfect passer rating Wilson had last season while throwing to Lockett out of the way, right away, this year.

Thursday against the Los Angeles Rams, Wilson to Lockett looked perfect again.

Lockett’s sideline ballet, dropping the top ends of both cleats just inside the sideline boundary in the end zone while leaning out to catch Wilson’s off-balance throw on a scramble, will be remembered around the Pacific Northwest for as long as it rains here.

“Tyler Lockett, the toe tap. Doesn’t get any more on time and on the money with his footwork there,” Wilson said.

The NFL’s “Next Gen” Stats said it was the most unlikely catch for a touchdown in the league in three seasons. However they measure that.

It was the highlight play of Seattle’s 30-29 rally past the Los Angeles Rams, who had recently dominated the Seahawks and the NFC West.

“Everybody’s just raving it’s one of the best catches they’ve ever seen,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

“But it’s also one of the best throws ever made, if that’s the case. Because there was no room for error.”

Yes, it looked to many like Wilson was throwing the ball away at the end of another of his scrambles away from Rams pressure.

But when Wilson is throwing to Lockett, nothing is thrown away.

As exquisite as Wilson to Lockett has been the last two seasons, you’d think they wouldn’t be impressed with their latest hook-up.

They were.

“Just the fact that he trusted me enough to be able to give me a chance and I was able to secure the catch and get my feet in, that was a big-time play,” Lockett said.

“When he threw it, I knew he was throwing it to me. I really didn’t see Luke (Willson, his teammate who was a few yards in front of him in the same part of the end zone) until I watched the clip (after the game). When he threw it, I knew he was giving me a chance. When he threw it, I knew I had a chance to be able to catch it. I knew it wasn’t an out-of-bounds-type of throw.”

Turns out, plays like the unforgettable one Thursday aren’t accidents. Wilson and Lockett work on them in practices each week. They did again Monday as the Seahawks (4-1) began preparing to play the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday.

“The only reason why I knew (it wasn’t a throw-away) is, he did so many things like that in practice,” Lockett said. “And when I asked him he’d be like ‘Oh, I was throwing it away’ or ‘I wasn’t.’

“But in this (Rams) game, we just had to (take) a chance, make a play.”

Lockett became Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver when Doug Baldwin retired this spring following three offseason surgeries. Much of the preseason talk about Lockett was how he well he would take Baldwin’s role as slot receiver on third downs and in the red zone.

Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has done as he promised. He’s employed Lockett all over the field and formations, inside and outside.

Wilson has completed 30 of his 36 passes thrown to Lockett through five games, for 379 yards and three touchdowns; Lockett’s catches and yards lead the Seahawks. Wilson’s passer rating throwing to Lockett so far is 138.3.

That’s not perfect, not the 158.3 Wilson to Lockett produced last season. But it’s darn close.

Eleven Seahawks have caught passes this season. But more than one-fourth of Wilson’s completions (30 of 114) and 25 percent of Wilson’s 12 touchdown passes have been to Lockett.

“Russ is going to make plays. He’s going to put us in positions to be successful,” Lockett said. “And we just have to do our jobs.

“We just have to secure the catch, no matter how hard the catch is.”

That is why Lockett thinks he earned even more throws from Wilson because of that astounding score against the Rams.

“When you make catches like that, he trusts you even more to throw harder types of balls,” Lockett said.

Schottenheimer is capitalizing on how good Wilson and Lockett have been together, and he’s taking advantage of opposing defenses that know it, too.

The Lockett Effect also got the Seahawks’ their second touchdown against the Rams on Thursday, even though Lockett didn’t score it.

In the second quarter he ran his pet, big-play pattern of the last two seasons: While Wilson rolled right, Lockett ran from the right deep to the left on across the field, to the backside of the play’s flow. Schottenheimer saw Rams cornerback Marcus Peters jump that route earlier in Thursday’s game. So in the second quarter he had Lockett abruptly stop the route to the left and go back to the right, for a change. Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf broke from the left into the void Lockett usually goes into on his favorite route.

No Ram took Metcalf. He was in the clear behind Lockett for a 40-yard score, his second career touchdown. Seattle led 14-6.

“True perfection there,” Wilson said.

Lockett didn’t want to fully disclose the method behind that play. But when asked if it was a new variation to his pet route, Lockett smiled and said, “You can trust your instincts.”

That’s another Lockett look for the Browns, who played San Francisco on Monday night, to work on during their short week preparing to play the Seahawks.

“The two of those guys figure that kind of stuff out when everything’s breaking loose,” Carroll said.

“That’s why we believe in those guys.”

Lockett’s got far more than football going on. Always has.

He has published a book of his own poetry. It comes out Oct. 15, available at Barnes & Noble, Fred Meyer stores across the Northwest and on amazon.com. He said Monday he’s about to speak at Tuesday employee meetings at Microsoft and Amazon around Seattle about his poetry and its meaning.

He says his poems inspire him through the challenges of everyday life and on the field.

He quoted from one of them: “Anything that stands in my way/I’m going to beat it like a drum”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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