Seahawks notebook: Jermaine Kearse, wide receivers come up big during second-half rally
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jermaine Kearse’s career with the Seahawks has been defined by big catches in big moments.
That was no different on Sunday as his most productive day as a pro helped Seattle make a game out of a 31-0 first-half deficit.
“He was lights out,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after Seattle’s 31-24 divisional-round loss to Carolina. “Jermaine Kearse has done an unbelievable job all four years. He’s just made play after play. His determination, his work ethic, his passion for the game, his poise. He’s got great hands. He came up big last week on a third-down against the Vikings, and he had some big-time catches today.”
Kearse made a career-high 11 catches in all – 10 of them coming in the second half – and tied career highs with 110 yards and two touchdowns. His first score came from 13 yards out on Seattle’s opening possession of the third quarter, putting the Seahawks on the board for the first time. His second touchdown, a 3-yard score, cut Carolina’s lead to 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Kearse now owns the Seahawks’ franchise record with six postseason touchdown catches dating back to 2013, which was his second season.
“He’s clutch,” Wilson said, “as clutch as it gets.”
Fellow wide receivers Doug Baldwin (eight catches, 82 yards) and rookie Tyler Lockett (three for 75) also made a number of big plays to contribute to Seattle’s second-half rally.
Lockett made a pair of remarkable falling catches, one in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown and another on the sideline in which he managed to drag his back foot just before his momentum carried him out of bounds. Officials initially ruled it incomplete but the call was reversed upon a challenge from the Seahawks.
“They have all had an incredible season,” coach Pete Carroll said of Kearse, Baldwin and Lockett. “They have all had their best year ever, and they showed you why. They are the real deal, all of those guys. They all made plays and Russell was right in the middle of all that. Fantastic job.”
Kearse is from the Tacoma area and played collegiately at the University of Washington. He’s also set to become an unrestricted free agent, all of which likely explained why he appeared emotional as he spoke with reporters afterward.
“I left it all on the line for these guys,” he said. “I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Everyone else did the exact same thing. We all played for one another in that second half and we all stuck with one another.”
Seahawks convert on fake punt
The Seahawks got tricky late in the third quarter, running a successful fake punt with DeShawn Shead taking a direct snap. Fullback Derrick Coleman delivered a key block on Shead’s run, which picked up 17 yards on fourth-and-2.
That the Seahawks ran the play from their own 23-yard line spoke to the desperation of the situation as Seattle trailed by 17 points with a little over 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
“Brian Schneider had a great prep with the fellas and had that going,” Carroll said, referring to Seattle’s special-teams coach. “We thought we had something. Obviously we needed to do something so we took a shot at it. It was great execution by the guys up front, not just Deshawn Shead running the football but also the guys blocking did really well.”
• Left tackle Russell Okung dislocated his left shoulder in the second quarter while blocking on what turned out to be Wilson’s second interception.
• Defensive end Cliff Avril left the game for good in the second quarter with a neck injury. “He is fine,” Carroll said. “He had been cleared. His neck was jammed but he was fine.”
• Wilson was hit 14 times. That was his most in any game this season, though his 48 attempts were also the most in his career.