The first catch of Tanner McEvoy’s NFL career was special on a number of levels and, despite being wide open on the play, it wasn’t as simple as it looked.
“I really think it was like in the air for 10 minutes,” McEvoy said following the Seahawks’ 27-17 win over the Jets on Sunday when asked about his 42-yard touchdown. “It felt like it was up there for a long time. I knew I was wide open just from how he threw it and how the defense was set up before the snap. It was just a lucky play for me to be in, honestly, and I’m just happy that my first catch was a touchdown in front of everyone.”
McEvoy, an undrafted rookie wide receiver, padded Seattle’s lead in the second quarter when he scored on his first career catch. Quarterback Russell Wilson had stepped up in the pocket to avoid Jets pass-rusher Sheldon Richardson and found the 6-foot-6, 230-pound McEvoy behind the secondary. McEvoy said afterward that he hadn’t yet seen the replay but that “judging by how the ball was thrown, I could tell I was probably wide open, and I just had to catch it.”
“It happens,” he said of the Jets’ busted coverage. “In this game, there’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s a lot of moving parts, and sometimes people can slip through. So that’s kind of how that worked.”
While the first career catch and touchdown is special for every NFL player, McEvoy’s was for a few reasons. The University of Wisconsin product caught it from a fellow Badger in Wilson and did so at MetLife Stadium, which is a few miles from his hometown of Hillsdale, N.J. and his high school, Bergen Catholic. Head coach Pete Carroll said it must have been a “great thrill” for McEvoy’s friends and family.
“To get a chance to get your first ball at MetLife and it’s a doggone touchdown, that’s one of those things he’ll never forget, and I hope his family was all there to see it and all that and they get to rejoice in that,” Carroll said. “That was marvelous.”
McEvoy made the team after solid preseason in which he caught five passes for 128 yards. His lone touchdown came on a game-ending hail mary that beat the Chiefs.
McEvoy was one of eight Seahawks who caught at least one pass on Sunday. His may have looked like the easiest, but being wide open on a deep throw left McEvoy a lot of time to get inside his own head.
“Weird combination,” he said. “Very easy, but it felt like the ball was in the air for a long time and I was a little nervous.”