While the Seahawks try to puzzle out how they are going to contain Aaron Rodgers six days from now when they couldn’t prevent Nick Foles and the Rams from hanging 34 on them Sunday in St. Louis, they can at least revel in the knowledge that they were right about Tyler Lockett, who in less than a quarter morphed from draft-day sleeper into fantasy star.
On Seattle’s first possession, the rookie from Kansas State snagged a seven-yard pass from Russell Wilson the first time he touched the ball. At the 4:31 mark of the first quarter, Lockett returned a Johnny Hekker punt 57 yards for a touchdown that briefly gave Seattle a 7-0 lead.
Lockett caught all four balls where he was targeted by Wilson, for 34 yards. He also returned two kickoffs for 56 yards and averaged 31.5 on a pair of punt returns.
The Seahawks traded their third-round (#95), fourth-round (#112), fifth-round (#167) and sixth-round (#181) picks to the Washington Redskins to move up to the third round to select Lockett, about whom NFL.com actually wrote in its pre-draft analysis, “His top-end speed is questionable.”
What’s questionable is NFL.com’s analysis, not Lockett, who is what Percy Harvin wasn’t. Lockett made some history Sunday – both club and league.
With his 57-yard punt return, Lockett became the first rookie in Seahawks history to score on such a play in his first NFL game, the quickest to do so, and one of only five first-year players in 40 seasons to return a punt for a TD. The five, ranked by quickest to score:
|2015||Sept. 13||Tyler Lockett||Rams||57||1||1|
|1999||Sept. 26||Charlie Rogers||Steelers||94||3||1|
|1995||Nov. 5||Joey Galloway||Giants||89||9||1|
|1980||Nov. 23||Will Lewis||Broncos||75||12||2|
|1986||Nov. 23||B.J. Edmonds||Eagles||75||12||2|
In the modern history of the NFL (since 1960), and including the old American Football League, 13 rookies returned a punt for a touchdown in the first game of their careers. George Mingo of the Denver Broncos (AFL) became the first Sept. 9, 1960 when he popped one 76 yards against the Boston Patriots.
The last to do so before Lockett was Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals, who had an 89-yard punt return TD against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter Sept. 11, 2011.
Of the 13 first-game scorers, only three before Lockett pulled off the feat in the first quarter, the last Dale Carter of the Kansas City Chiefs 23 years ago, who holds the distinction of doing it the fastest: Carter’s 46-yard punt return against the San Diego Chargers came on his first pro touch.
Lockett was nearly as good. His 57-yarder came on his second pro touch. The 13 rookies to score on punt returns in their first pro game:
|1968||Sept. 15||George Atkinson||Raiders||Bills||86||1|
|1989||Sept. 10||Deion Sanders||Falcons||Rams||68||1|
|1992||Sept. 6||Dale Carter||Chiefs||Chargers||46||1|
|2015||Sept. 13||Tyler Lockett||Seahawks||Rams||57||1|
|1996||Sept. 1||Amani Toomer||Giants||Bills||87||2|
|2010||Sept. 13||Dexter McCluster||Chiefs||Chargers||94||2|
|2005||Sept. 11||Otis Amey||49ers||Rams||75||2|
|1960||Sept. 9||George Mingo||Broncos||Patriots||76||3|
|1970||Sept. 20||Alvin Wyatt||Raiders||Bengals||63||3|
|2012||Sept. 9||Marcus Thigpen||Dolphins||Texans||72||3|
|1993||Sept. 5||Russell Copeland||Bills||Patriots||47||4|
|2006||Sept. 10||Devin Hester||Bears||Packers||84||4|
|2011||Sept. 11||Patrick Peterson||Cardinals||Panthers||89||4|
Wrong end of history
The Seahawks historically leave a lot to be desired as an overtime team. They are 12-22 in such contests, most of which have been determined, one way or another, by field goals. Sunday’s 34-31 OT loss to the Rams was different, even though it, too, ended with a trey.
It marked only the fifth time in 34 overtime games that the Seahawks were forced into an extra period by an opposing quarterback’s touchdown pass (Nick Foles to Lance Kendricks) inside the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, and the first time they went on to lose such a game.
Not only that, the Foles throw that victimized Kam Chancellor wannabe Dion Bailey covered 37 yards, the longest TD pass ever to force an overtime against the Seahawks. The Foles-Kendricks play also came with 53 seconds remaining in regulation. Only two other OT-forcing TD passes came later:
- Dec. 11, 2002 (17 seconds to play): Michael Vick 12-yard TD to Trevor Gaylor, tying the score at 24. Seahawks won in OT on Shaun Alexander’s 27-yard run.
- Sept. 21, 2014 (0:18): Peyton Manning 26 TD to Jacob Tamme, tying at 20. Seahawks won in OT on Marshawn Lynch’s six-yard run.
- Sept. 13, 2015 (0:53): Nick Foles 37 TD to Lance Kendricks, tying at 31. Rams won in OT on Greg Zuerlein’s 37-yard FG.
- Nov. 27, 2005 (1:59): Eli Manning 18 pass to Amani Toomer, tying at 21. Seahawks won in OT on Josh Brown’s 36-yard FG.
- Dec. 2, 1990 (3:46): Warren Moon 2 pass to Ernest Givens, tying at 10. Seahawks won in OT on Norm Johnson’s 42-yard FG.