The only flaw in Tyler Lockett’s home debut happened after he crossed the goal line to score the longest kickoff return in team history.
“What was his celebration when he scored?” cornerback Richard Sherman asked. “Because he always has something.”
And Lockett did have something planned: Swag Surfin’, a dance drawn from the song by the Fast Life Yungstaz (F.L.Y.). The problem came down to execution after he ran the second-half kickoff back 105 yards.
“I was too hyped at the moment,” Lockett said.
For good reason. Lockett was not touched on the return that was blocked perfectly, and one on which Lockett reached the end zone with an escort from linebacker Mike Morgan.
It was the turning point in Sunday’s game, a moment that underscored the most praiseworthy element of Seattle’s victory over Chicago, which was the Seahawks’ special teams. Yes, the Seahawks held Chicago scoreless, but that Bears’ offense was so utterly toothless behind backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen that it’s tough to know how much credit Seattle deserves. Seattle’s offense only punted once in the second half, but the first half was enough of a clunker to temper any praise.
But Seattle’s special teams, on the other hand, were enough to win this game, scoring as many touchdowns as the Seahawks’ offense for the second time in three games not to mention a trick play that led to Seattle’s first points of the game.
Lockett played a role on that play, too. An acting role as he made the Bears believe he was fielding a first-quarter punt over toward the Bears’ sideline when in fact the ball was headed to the opposite side of the field, where Sherman raced back from the line of scrimmage to catch it.
“The biggest thing was just to be a good actor and be able to try and get them to come to me,” Lockett said. “After that, Sherman would do the rest.”
Sherman returned the punt 62 yards, putting Seattle in position for its first field goal. In the second half, Seattle’s special teams accounted for the game’s first touchdown as Lockett fielded the kick 5 yards in his own end zone and ran it all the way back.
“Just a beautifully blocked play by the whole group,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He didn’t even get touched on the play.”
The return set a franchise record for longest kickoff return, surpassing Leon Washington’s 101-yard return against Miami in 2012.
Lockett’s impact in Seattle has been immediate as he has continued to be as explosive in the regular season as he was in August, when he scored three touchdowns in four preseason games. Just three games into his rookie season, Lockett became the second player in Seahawks history to score via punt return and kickoff return in the same season.
“He’s showing himself to be one of the most elusive and dangerous punt returners and kick returners in this league,” Sherman said. “I think he’s working himself in position to be an All-Pro, Pro Bowl player.”
Someone that everyone is watching out for. Including the coach.
“I thought it was really good because I saw the whole thing,” Carroll said of the 105-yard return.
Carroll missed the end of Lockett’s 103-yard kickoff return in the preseason opener, having collided with the side judge who was running down the sideline.
“If you notice, I stepped back just at the right time and made sure I was out of the way,” Carroll said.
Now, Lockett just needs to get his celebration right.