SEATTLE — Strolling into CenturyLink Field donning a crisp Steve Largent throwback jersey, rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf made his much-anticipated debut Sunday, and immediately presented Seattle a much-needed, pass-catching weapon.
Metcalf, who likened himself to the Marvel character Wolverine earlier this week for his ability to quickly recover from injury, hadn’t played since the Seahawks’ first preseason game after undergoing minor knee surgery Aug. 20.
But Metcalf showed up Sunday and made several critical plays with Cincinnati routinely double covering Seattle’s No. 1 receiver, Tyler Lockett, most of the game.
“It was great,” said Metcalf of his first NFL game. “The fans are loud. It was my first time ever being inside the stadium when it was packed like that. The environment was great. The defense played hard. The offense played hard. We came out with a W.”
Metcalf recorded a team-high 89 yards on four receptions, making two highlight plays in critical moments.
Metcalf made his first career reception – a 6-yarder on a slant route – during Seattle’s opening possession. He gave the Seahawks their first glimpse of his deep-ball potential on Seattle’s final drive of the first half when the 6-foot-4 229-pound wideout beat Bengals cornerback William Jackson III down the left sideline for a 42-yard reception. The score set up Chris Carson’s 10-yard TD catch.
“The game was a litter faster,” Metcalf said, “the competition was higher, but you get the same reps at practice, so it was just making sure I was comfortable in my own body and just trusting myself.”
Metcalf’s rapport with Russell Wilson undoubtedly will take time, but the rookie got indoctrinated into Wilson’s freelancing, scramble-drill style in the second half when Wilson and Metcalf engineered a 25-yard gain on a third down.
After dropping back and finding no one open, Wilson climbed the pocket and lofted a pass to a streaking Metcalf, who caught the ball before getting sandwiched between two defenders. Lockett pulled in the eventual game-winning touchdown two plays later.
“The play broke down and Russ made eye contact, and he had enough trust in me to just lob it up there,” Metcalf said. “(When) the ball is in the air, it’s mine, so I had to go get it.”
Unsung linemen shine
New acquisition Jadeveon Clowney and former Detroit Lion Ziggy Ansah are expected to be Seattle’s most prominent pass rushers this year, but a couple overlooked linemen made their presence felt Sunday.
Fourth-year Seahawk Quinton Jefferson sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton twice, and veteran Al Woods stopped a promising Cincinnati drive with a fumble recovery and later stuffed running back Giovanni Bernard on a critical fourth-and-1.
“I’m a player in this league, and I want to make a name for myself this year,” Jefferson said, “as well as everybody on this D-line. I feel like we got a bunch of young, hungry guys. It’s going to be a fun year.”
The Seahawks finished with four sacks, with Clowney and Rasheem Green each recording one. The defensive front also helped limit the Bengals to 34 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
Ex-UW star burns Hawks
Back in the same city where he first developed a habit of torching defensive secondaries, former Washington Husky and third-year pro John Ross III finally enjoyed a long-awaited breakout game.
Ross, taking advantage of the absence of Bengals standout receiver AJ Green, enjoyed a career-game Sunday at the expense of Seattle’s defense.
Ross recorded a game-high 158 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions, helping solidify a Bengals passing attack that carved up Seattle’s secondary.
“It did feel good,” said Ross of having a big game in Seattle. “It felt surreal. I used to work here for Staff Pro. I used to be a security guard here when I was in college. To be able to play here in front of some people who used to watch me in college, it did feel good. I’m thankful.
Injuries pile up
Three key Seahawks left Sunday’s game with injuries, but during coach Pete Carroll’s press conference there was no definitive news on the impact of the injuries moving forward.
Second-year tight end Will Dissly, who played just four games last season after suffering a season-ending patella tendon injury, injured the same knee and didn’t return.
Defensive lineman Poona Ford exited with a calf injury, and special-teams standout Neiko Thorpe was pulled from the game and didn’t return after sustaining a hamstring injury.
Despite Mike Iupati being active Sunday, third-year lineman Ethan Pocic got the start for the Seahawks at left guard.
One of Seattle’s major offseason acquisitions, Ziggy Ansah, was inactive Sunday as he works his way back from his shoulder injury. Other inactives included wide receivers David Moore, Gary Jennings and John Ursua, defensive back Parry Nickerson, lineman Joey Hunt and rookie defensive end L.J. Collier.