D.K. Metcalf’s unbelievable effort saves TD, Cardinals still manage win
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll said it was one of the best plays they’ve ever seen. Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said it’s a play that will be shown by high school coaches for years.
Ultimately, D.K. Metcalf’s incredible effort to save a Cardinals touchdown didn’t result in a Seattle win. But if any play deserved to swing a game, it was that one, in a 37-34 overtime victory for Arizona.
On 1st-and-goal with a little over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter, Seattle was in a commanding position up 13-7 with the offense buzzing.
Wilson dropped back to pass and did so as Cardinals safety Budda Baker was a bit out of position due to the Seahawks speeding up the tempo.
With some fortune, Baker wound up closer to Seattle running back Chris Carson than he’d normally be.
That would explain why Wilson floated the ball to his running back like no one was going to be there. Or, more like, should be there.
Baker got a quick read on the action Carson was running as a pass-catcher, so he decided to make his break on the ball given his closer-than-expected proximity to the play.
“I just took a shot,” Baker said. “I saw a ball in the air, caught it.”
In those first two seconds following an interception, there’s immense drama from a television viewer’s perspective in seeing what is going to emerge on the screen. Does the returner have room to go all the way for a touchdown? How many blockers does he have downfield?
Everything checked off for Baker. He was as good as gone. No one was in front of him except for Wilson, and he was held up enough by a Cardinals defender (more on them later). For a speedy guy like Baker, that was surely going to be enough to score. He said it himself that prior to Sunday night he had never been caught from behind by an offensive player.
But he had never been making that type of play when Metcalf was on the field.
In the spirit of the “Terminator” film franchise, Metcalf began “galloping out of nowhere” like a “huge stallion of a human” that Kingsbury would later describe him as.
“I was running (and) next thing you know, I look up and I see this big 14 coming after me,” Baker said.
Metcalf improbably ran Baker down and made the tackle to save a touchdown.
“Phenomenal anticipation by him. D.K. Metcalf is an absolute freak athlete and what an effort play him,” Kingsbury said.
There’s no way to criticize the Cardinals for not picking Metcalf up, but inevitably the question becomes: Who should have picked him up?
“I wish somebody would have located D.K. and kind of held him,” Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray joked.
When Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson was asked about the play, he cut himself off before almost saying that Metcalf was indeed his responsibility.
“I was in front of D.K. because I knew the route that was coming,” Peterson said.
“As soon as Budda caught the ball, D.K. took off and D.K. is … man, that’s one fast young man right there, I tell you,” Peterson said. “I was on my horses trying to get in front of him to help Budda get to the end zone but I’m 10 years in, he’s two, so he’s a little bit fresher than me.”
Scroll up and watch the interception again, but focus on Peterson. You will indeed see that he was hoofing it, and especially once he saw Metcalf coming, knowing his teammate might need a block.
An overhead look shows how much of a secondary effort Peterson put in, and yet, how much faster Metcalf was.
Even better, there is a fourth character in this play!
For the third time, go back to the above reenactment and you’ll see defensive lineman Corey Peters semi-block Wilson and then nearly fall into Metcalf.
Seriously, watch Peters here fly across the screen here from left-to-right.
The play was Baker’s second career interception, and it happened a week after the fourth-year pro earned his first. In the moment, it appeared to be a massive response after the Cardinals had given the ball to the Seahawks at Arizona’s 31-yard line following a DeAndre Hopkins fumble.
But Metcalf’s save ended up paying off big-time.
The Cardinals couldn’t convert on four downs after Baker’s near-pick-six, and the Seahawks went on to put together a 97-yard drive, taking a 20-7 lead and ending the half up 27-17.
At the least, Baker’s play made a huge difference in the moment, because Hopkins’ fumble had been painful.
According to EdjSports, Arizona’s game-winning chance (GWC) saw wild swings of back-and-forths in that first-half sequence of events.
That did wind up being quite the game-saving play by Metcalf, as a touchdown there by Baker wouldn’t have even required the game to go to overtime.
Get used to seeing it played back, and given it came in a Cardinals win, that will probably (hopefully) allow most in the Valley to truly enjoy its greatness.