Jimmy Graham finally had his Seahawks wow moment Sunday afternoon.
Two and a half seasons after he relocated to Seattle in a trade that has looked better in concept than in reality, a week after he dropped a pair of passes $10-million-a-year superstars aren’t supposed to drop, the former All-Pro tight end scored the touchdown that gave the Hawks a 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans.
The ball was at the Houston 18-yard line, with the fourth-quarter clock down to 26 seconds and counting, when quarterback Russell Wilson found Graham wide open at the 3.
The Seahawks acquired the 6-foot-7 Graham based on his potential as a high-jumping target for Wilson, but on the touchdown pass that capped a two-minute drill for the ages, dependable hands were more necessary than spectacular athleticism.
“He called the perfect play,” Graham said of Wilson. “It just opened up in the middle, and for some reason, nobody decided to guard me. Which is awesome. So, I scored.”
Said Wilson: “I kind of looked left, looked off or whatever, and then the next thing I know, big 88 is running down the middle, and that is always a good thing.
“He made a great catch and scampered into the end zone. The stadium was electric. The 12’s just went crazy. How special is that?”
On the Seahawks sideline, coach Pete Carroll noticed the Houston defense had a coverage breakdown.
“Everybody was screaming, everybody was calling his name out,” Carroll said. “It was just magnificent execution, with the poise and the timing to do that exactly the way we practice it. Russ delivered the ball, and then Jimmy came through. It was really fun. I’m really thankful for him to have the opportunity for him to come through.”
With the NFL trade deadline set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, rumors are swirling that Graham (and the $4.5-million remaining on his 2017 contract) could be shipped in an 11th-hour deal.
Although general manager John Schneider, during a pregame radio interview Sunday, denied the team was involved in trade discussions about Graham, the mere rumor exemplifies the frustration that has defined the ex-New Orleans tight end’s struggle to adjust to a different offense.
Factor in the difficult recovery from the ruptured patellar tendon he sustained two years ago, and it’s no wonder there was a bad vibe about Graham’s Seattle experience.
Then came the second of his two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. See the ball, catch the ball, no drama at all.
Well, there was lots of drama, but it was the good kind.
“Jimmy Graham is finally showing that he is still Jimmy Graham,” said wide receiver Doug Baldwin. “I’m just thankful that he got his opportunities and made the best of them. I’m so happy for my teammate.
“You see these guys day in and day out, you see the struggle, you see the battles with injuries, and you want to see guys do well.”
Graham is not known for his accessibility with the media after games, or during the week. But he was the first Seahawks player to talk on Sunday, using words that suggest he has found happiness beyond the turmoil.
“It was fantastic, it was awesome,” he said of the touchdown reception. “You know, I haven’t been that open over the middle in a while. Really, it was the perfect play call. We’d just gone deep on them and I think they were pretty tired.
“We do two-minute every day. Literally, every day. On the practice field, through walk-through, we are always ready for those situations.”
As for Graham’s future?
“I hope he never goes anywhere,” Wilson said. “He’s a special player, special friend, special worker and he brings an enthusiasm to the game, as you guys can see when he catches the ball and the whole stadium lights up.”