D.K. Metcalf saved his best performance for the biggest stage.
The behemoth Seattle Seahawks wide receiver popped off for 160 yards and a touchdown, burning the Philadelphia Eagles repeatedly with big plays. The production marked the most receiving yards in a playoff game by a rookie and the most receiving yards by a Seahawks player in a postseason game in franchise history.
Metcalf doesn’t want to be a one-hit-wonder, however. The rookie said this week that “it’s time to focus on Green Bay… Can’t harp on that one moment,” per the team’s official website.
Another big day against the Packers in Sunday’s Divisional Round could add to Metcalf’s unprecedented postseason start. After generating the fifth-most receiving yards in a player’s first career playoff game, the rookie needs 147 receiving yards to break Vikings wideout Anthony Carter’s record for most in a player’s first two career playoff games all-time (306 in 1987). Metcalf could become the first rookie in the Super Bowl era with multiple playoff games with 100-plus receiving yards.
Against a Packers defense that has been bullied at times this season, Metcalf enters with a shot to make that history. Green Bay allowed a player to log 100-plus receiving yards in 10 games in 2019 (T-3rd most in NFL, behind only Arizona and Tampa Bay).
The ascent hasn’t always been simple for Metcalf, who battled through the normal rookie highs and lows before breaking out on the national stage last week.
“He’s always working on his things — on his technique, on his principles,” coach Pete Carroll said of the young wideout. “That’s just been the way he has been, so I don’t think there’s been big changes. I think, if anything has shifted, would be his confidence is really there. He knows he can play this game at this level and he wants to be in the middle of it all. He’s got a great demeanor about that too. He’s not yapping about wanting the football or for calling for this or that. He just plays the game the way you love guys to play — with great work ethic and great focus. And he’s got marvelous talent, so he’s just getting going. I just think it’s been a really steady ascent to this point. That was a huge game obviously, but he’s been playing good football all year.”
Metcalf famously fell to the bottom of the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, taken No. 64 overall by the Seahawks. Questions about potential tight hips restricting the effectiveness of his routes on the pro-level and the diversity of his game caused him to fall.
In the rookie’s view, he fell to the perfect team and the perfect situation.
“It was a perfect situation for me,” Metcalf said. “At the moment, I was mad. After everything is said and done, looking back at it, just happy that I landed here. Great quarterback, great offense, great team, organization. We’re in the playoffs. Still playing and a lot of teams are at home. It was a great moment.”
Sometimes in life, landing in the right place at the right time with the right people matters more than our preconceived notion of where we’d like our travels to go.
Surely Metcalf would have liked to earn millions of more dollars going in the first round, but he landed in a spot that has allowed him to grow at his own rate and put him in optimal condition to thrive. The rookie might have a high rate of condensed splits, and his repertoire has been honed slowly over the year, but last week’s game showed the potential he has to take advantage of matchups opposite Tyler Lockett in Seattle.
A seedling shooting up from the soil, Metcalf can stretch closer to the sun with another big day in Green Bay.