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Seattle Seahawks

Dave Boling: Toe-tapping rookie Jake Bobo fills big shoes in Seahawks win over Cardinals

By Dave Boling The Spokesman-Review

SEATTLE – NFL scouts meticulously evaluate receivers’ speed, ability to separate from coverage and, of course, their hands.

Fools. Nobody scouts their feet.

It was a major oversight when examining the talents of Jake Bobo, a receiver out of UCLA who went undrafted this spring, mostly because his plodding 40-yard dash clocking of 4.99 was up there with most of the leviathan offensive-line prospects.

Bobo went total Baryshnikov in the second quarter with a toe-tap catch in the end zone at Lumen Field on Sunday, which was key to the Seahawks’ 20-10 victory over Arizona. It required a lengthy replay of coach Pete Carroll’s challenge before the officials and nearly 69,000 witnesses saw proof that the catch was indeed a legal touchdown.

Of the 28 bones in the human foot, Bobo got the very tip of his right great toe inbounds before the rest of his foot touched down on the sideline of the end zone.

The Seahawks made too many mistakes on Sunday to defeat a good team, so it was fortunate they faced the one-win Cardinals. The win leaves them 4-2 with another home game against Cleveland (4-2) next week.

Aside from the mathematical mandate to stay close to San Francisco in the NFC West standings, this one provided another glimpse of the future for the Seahawks as so many rookies and sophomore players were crucial in the win.

Running back Kenneth Walker cracked 100 yards rushing again (26 carries, 105 yards) and showed a greater understanding of finding a crack and heading promptly upfield without the unproductive choreography that has sometimes stymied his runs.

Rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba had an awaited breakout performance, scoring his first NFL touchdown and gathering four receptions for 63 yards. JSN, considered the top receiver in the draft, had been averaging a meager 6.9 yards per catch thus far. He’s shown a nice ability to find space in zone coverage in games but put it to better effect against the Cardinals with a 28-yard score in the first period.

Devon Witherspoon had another impressive outing, making three forceful tackles, while having an interception and a sack nullified by teammates’ penalties.

And with starting center Evan Brown and guard Phil Haynes out with injuries, rookies Olu Oluwatimi and Anthony Bradford filled their respective positions competently.

But it is Bobo who has become the surprise of all the Seahawk rookies.

When asked of Bobo’s TD catch, Carroll first pointed out the accuracy of Geno Smith’s pass and the improbability that Bobo could pull in the ball while enveloped by Cardinals cornerback Starling Thomas V.

In what was likely the play of the early season, Bobo ran a double-move, but Thomas closed on him and pulled at his left arm while rising along with the receiver. Bobo high-pointed the pass with his right hand while dragging his left foot and tapping his right toe while falling out of bounds.

“Jake’s got all that stuff in him,” Carroll said of Bobo’s skills. “He’s got a great knack and spatial awareness. There’s not a catch he can’t make and nothing he can’t do.”

And his blocking? “That just makes him more valuable.”

At 6-foot-4, 208 pounds, Bobo says he loves to mix it up when it comes to blocking and getting physical with smaller defenders. For a comparison, fans might remember wideout Joe Jurevicius, a tall and tough receiver who was a key producer on the 2005 team that won the NFC title.

Bobo said he knew he would play a more important role with vet DK Metcalf out with rib and hip injuries.

“I was just looking to semi-fill his big shoes,” Bobo said.

Metcalf, he said, helped him out with advice on the sidelines during the game.

So many great receivers have come up with circus catches over the years. Steve Largent once pulled in a touchdown with both arms around the back of Lester Hayes. Doug Baldwin rose into the Jetstream during a frigid playoff game in Minnesota to somehow spear a Russell Wilson pass. Tyler Lockett has any number of improbable toe-tap touchdowns to his credit.

There are too many more to research, but none that come to mind were more inconceivable than Bobo’s catch on Sunday.

This game will be soon forgotten. But Bobo’s catch was suitable for framing and hanging in a Seahawks museum of great memories.