Seahawks’ DK Metcalf raises his game by using Mississippi high school tricks on NFL pros

The tricks DK Metcalf learned growing up playing on fields in Mississippi still work in the NFL.

The Seahawks’ $70 million wide receiver gets constant attention from opposing defenses fearful of him beating them deep for touchdown catches. The Cardinals, Seattle’s next opponent in Arizona Sunday, especially bracketed him often with a safety deep behind him in a game last month.

Metcalf has a funny, effective way to deal with such attention. Particularly on a running play.

With 5 1/2 minutes left in the Seahawks’ game against New York last weekend, Metcalf was jogging what looked to be a lazy pass pattern at Giants cornerback Adoree Jackson. Metcalf stopped at about the 5-yard line. Jackson stopped with him, thinking the play wasn’t coming that way. Then Metcalf took off running for the end zone. He cupped his hands high and over his shoulder, as if preparing to catch another pass from Geno Smith that was about to arrive. Metcalf had caught a touchdown pass from Smith in the first half of the game.

Jackson, beaten by Metcalf’s stop-and-go move, panicked. He turned his back to the line of scrimmage and sprinted to catch up to Metcalf in the end zone before the pass arrived. Metcalf jumped to reach the ball before Jackson.

But there was no pass.

Seahawks rookie Kenneth Walker was romping free on a running play into open field outside left, about 15 yards behind Metcalf’s ruse. Walker ran through a Giants defender at the 5. No one was at the goal line as Walker scored the touchdown that clinched Seattle’s 27-13 victory over previously 6-1 New York.

Jackson should have been the last defender to have a chance to tackle Walker. But he never saw Walker running, or the touchdown. His back remained to the play as he faced and focused on Metcalf, who by then was at the back of the end zone to “catch” that pass that never was.

Metcalf’s trick became an internet sensation.

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Has Metcalf ever had a more effective deke than the one he put on Jackson, which was more effective than an actual block?

“Yeah,” the native of Oxford, Mississippi, said with a grin, “I used to do it in high school. Act like I wasn’t getting the ball, because teams used to try to double(-team) me all the time.

“So, just having fun on the football field.”

What did the 27-year-old veteran Jackson say to the 24-year-old Metcalf as Walker was scoring his touchdown?

Metcalf laughed at the question Wednesday.

“He said: ‘F you!’”

Metcalf laughed again.

“He said it jokingly, after Ken scored.”

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There’s actually a method to Metcalf’s madcap move.

Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal stress to their wide receivers to stay involved in plays that aren’t designed to or for them, especially runs. Usually, that means blocking their defender. Blocking has always been a big deal for receivers to earn playing time on coach Pete Carroll’s teams.

Carroll has been trumpeting Metcalf’s trick on Jackson in film sessions and team meetings this week.

“The receivers are having a big part in this running game,” Carroll said. “It isn’t always the block, that’s the point right there.

“They have to recognize what the situation is and how they can get their guy and limit him from the play. That’s from the word ‘go’ Shane’s been talking about how it takes all 11 to run the football, and that everybody has to be a part of it and contribute.

“That’s a good illustration. We love pointing it out and making a big deal about it.”

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter of an NFL game against the New York Giants at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 30, 2022.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter of an NFL game against the New York Giants at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 30, 2022.

Metcalf doesn’t try his fake-pass-arriving deke move all that often. To do so would eliminate the element of surprise and limit its effectiveness.

“Exactly,” he said. “Sometimes I really have to go make a block or go get a safety (in the middle of the defense). But sometimes when it’s just one on one and I can try to set a DB up for a future route or a future run that is something that I try to practice.”