SEATTLE – Russell Wilson had just thrown his fifth touchdown pass to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime, but he knew that unlikely heroes are the best kind.
So after joining the dogpile on tight end Jacob Hollister, he had one more play to call for the Seattle Seahawks.
“Let’s get him up there,” he told his teammates, who quickly hoisted Hollister on their shoulders to carry him off CenturyLink Field after the Seahawks prevailed 40-34 to run their record to 7-2.
Maybe the only thing less likely than Hollister catching the winning touchdown pass was that it was his second one of another hand-wringer of a victory that saw the Seahawks spot the Bucs a 21-7 lead – and then blow a chance at winning in regulation when Jason Myers sliced on a 40-yard field goal attempt, his third missed kick.
Luckily for the Seahawks – and it was luck – Tampa called tails at the overtime coin toss. When it came up heads, it put the game in the hands of Wilson, the NFL’s passing leader who put together a 378-yard game.
“Russ has done this so many times,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “You can’t have a better guy – almost in the history of ball – doing it.”
Wilson’s first four completions on the drive went to four different receivers, including a deep back-shoulder throw to DK Metcalf, who made a remarkable catch falling backwards inside the Tampa 10-yard line. The next throw went to yet another receiver – Hollister, who lined up left, drove straight at safety Jordan Whitehead, then cut right and stretched out for Wilson’s throw. Hollister’s knee hit at the 1 in a virtual dead heat with the ball crossing the goal line, but officials ruled it a touchdown and it held up on video review.
“On every route, you have to expect to win and expect to get the ball,” Hollister said. “I knew I had to win on it and Russ threw a perfect ball.”
But Jacob Hollister?
Earlier this month, he was still on the weekly inactive list, having been acquired in a spring trade with New England as the Seahawks hedged against the injury that’s still keeping Ed Dickson sidelined. He’d never caught a regular-season touchdown pass until the 1-yarder Wilson flipped him just before halftime that cut Tampa’s lead to 21-13.
“It’s really just (about) always staying prepared,” said Hollister, a Bend, Ore., native who went undrafted in 2017 out of Wyoming before landing with the Pats. “That’s the thing about this team: you have so many guys that are really close, and you want them to be able to count on you.”
He was hardly the only receiver Seattle was able to count on, however.
Metcalf caught a 53-yard touchdown pass and totaled 123 yards on six catches, making life miserable for Bucs rookie Jamel Dean, who had to fill in for injured starter Carlton Davis II.
And the most prolific of all was Tyler Lockett, who snagged two TD passes among his career-high 13 catches for 152 yards and seemed to be constantly running underneath Wilson’s teardrops.
“I can’t even explain or describe (their chemistry),” Carroll said, “other than to just kind of marvel and watch it and have fun watching them play the game. We’re so lucky that they’ve kind of grown up together.”
But for all the showmanship, the game was more than a struggle. Tampa quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 335 yards – 180 of it to Mike Evans – and even after Seattle gained the lead in the fourth quarter, the Bucs battled back to tie, the last time with 46 seconds left in regulation after Winston converted on fourth-and-5 on a pass to running back Ronald Jones II.
Once again, Seattle’s beleaguered pass rush managed just two sacks and three quarterback hurries in 44 Winston attempts.
But Wilson was always to the rescue – getting the Seahawks into field goal range at the end of regulation with a 21-yard scramble, only to see the miss by Myers, who also missed a PAT and another field goal in addition to making a pair. So then Wilson simply did it all over again.
“I love watching him,” said defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. “Big fan.”
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