RENTON — Before he arrived in Seattle, DK Metcalf had never heard of Steve Largent.
“Not at all,” he said.
Metcalf soon learned all about the Seahawks’ Hall of Fame wide receiver, who from 1976 to 1989 had 819 catches for 13,089 yards, 100 touchdowns and — as the legend was told to Metcalf — zero drops.
Before his NFL debut Sunday, Metcalf made a not-so-subtle entrance into CenturyLink Field by wearing Largent’s No. 80 throwback jersey that he bought himself (retail price: $149.99) during a recent shopping trip to the team pro shop in Renton.
Yes, Metcalf is embracing the vast expectations placed on him as a rookie and for one game, at least, he lived up to them.
Metcalf had four catches for 89 yards in a 21-20 victory over the Bengals on Sunday, setting a team record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his debut.
The previous record-holder? None other than Largent, who had 86 receiving yards in his Seahawks debut 43 years ago.
Sitting at his locker, Metcalf again wore Largent’s No. 80 during postgame interviews.
“Everybody talks about how great of a receiver he was, and he never dropped anything,” Metcalf said. “He’s the GOAT receiver in Seattle, so I’m just trying to be like him.”
The most impressive part of Metcalf’s debut is it came just 19 days after he had a minor procedure on his knee, an injury that kept him out of the Seahawks’ final three preseason games. He said a few days before the season opener that his knee was 100% healthy, and he reported no setbacks from Sunday’s game.
From the Seahawks’ first offensive series, it was clear Metcalf — a 6-foot-4, 229-pound second-round pick out of Ole Miss — was going to be a signature piece of the game plan.
Russell Wilson’s first pass was intended for Metcalf (incomplete), and his second pass was a 6-yard completion to Metcalf on a third-down slant route (short of the first down).
Wilson targeted Metcalf six times. Tyler Lockett was the only other wide receiver targeted (twice). Running back Chris Carson had six catches for 35 yards and one touchdown (on seven targets).
“I thought DK was special,” Wilson said. “He fought for the football. He was special. It’s exciting for him to come in and make some great plays in the first game.”
Two catches in particular stood out.
The first came late in the second quarter on a fade route along the left sideline, in which Metcalf shielded off the cornerback, William Jackson III, to haul in Wilson’s pass for a 42-yard gain to the Bengals’ 13-yard line. That set up Wilson’s 10-yard TD pass to Carson three plays later.
His next catch, in the third quarter, came on a scramble play as Wilson rolled out of the pocket and floated a pass down 25 yards near the left hash.
“The play broke down and me and Russ made eye contact,” Metcalf said. “He had enough trust in me to just lob it up there. The ball’s in the air, it’s mine — so I had to go get it.”
That he did. Metcalf beat two defenders to make the catch, holding on after a low hit from safety Jessie Bates III.
Outside of Lockett, Seattle’s receivers came into the season mostly unproven. Metcalf is starting to prove he’s worthy of all the hype thrust on him this summer.
“Obviously, (Metcalf’s) height, speed, size — you don’t see receivers like that,” Lockett said. “They come in rare form, and the fact that he’s able to be on our team; the fact that he’s able to make tough catches and show up like that in his first game as a rookie, I’m excited to see what the future’s going to come for not only him but for us as a team.”